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Overheard On & Off Campus

“This global pandemic has affected us all in different ways. We have felt alone. We have felt uncertain. We have felt loss and at a loss. Our moments of loneliness, grief and even private joys ought to be recognized, for they can and should move us. Whether we know it or not, we have shared this aloneness together. I don’t want to dwell on the past, but I do want to honor this profound time in our lives when our naïve youth was abruptly replaced with a coarse reality filled with both extraordinary loss and ordinary disappointment.”

– Taishi Nakase ’21, an operations research and financial engineering concentrator from Melbourne, Australia, during his 2021 Valedictory Address

“The topics I work on are resilience, social equity and health, alongside environmental sustainability. Most of the global burden of disease arises from noncommunicable diseases caused by air pollution, poor diet and sedentary lifestyles. I think COVID is shining light on how communicable diseases intersect with all co-morbidities, which are associated with noncommunicable diseases. If you look globally in many countries, those other things are still the biggest killers. Air pollution is by far the biggest killer in India, even now. We have done well as a society in eradicating so many communicable diseases. So it brings back the question, how do we combine a focus on viral diseases with this background high level of risk from noncommunicable diseases, which are shaped by the built environment? Air pollution, walkability and food — those three things come up over and over again. We always knew we had both communicable and noncommunicable diseases, but now we’re forced to look at them together in a sharper way.”

– Anu Ramaswami, the Sanjay Swani ’87 Professor of India Studies; professor of civil and environmental engineering, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and the High Meadows Environmental Institute; and director of the M.S. Chadha Center for Global India.

“What is the new ethics of international research? What does reciprocity mean for us as international researchers? Consider one question: What do scholars do? They publish. Where do we publish this knowledge that we extract from a lot of the world? And for whom do we produce this knowledge and share it with? If you look at the academic publishing enterprise, it tells you one thing: It’s a one-directional path. The so-called important platforms of knowledge exist in Europe and America ... which is to say whatever else is being produced elsewhere, if they don’t translate well into these platforms, they don’t really count. And so in thinking about the ways of changing this one-way traffic, does it occur to us that there are knowledge centers and knowledge worlds that exist elsewhere? That we ought to … participate in those conversations at those sites, rather than expect that if they don’t come to us then they don’t exist?”

– Chika Okeke-Agulu, professor of African American studies and art and archaeology, and director of the Program in African Studies, during the panel discussion “Re-Framing International: Ethics, Sustainability and Equity in the Global Context.

“Our overarching goal from the very beginning has been to allow as many members of our campus community to do as much travel as we determined was safe, feasible and for critical purposes. International travel is likely never going to be ‘normal’ again, in the sense of being as it was before the pandemic. Even in a COVID-endemic world, there are going to be countries and whole regions that are going to be periodically out of reach due to inequalities in vaccine distribution and flare ups of disease. Then there will also be disruptions to the infrastructure of international travel — flights, accommodations, public transportation. The aftershocks will be felt for years to come. But, in terms of ease of movement across borders, we expect that will improve drastically as we move towards late spring of 2022.”

– TJ Lunardi, director of the University’s Global Safety and Security unit