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A message from Dean Cowhey on COVID-19

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Dear GPS Community:

As has no doubt happened in your lives, the pandemic of COVID-19 has disrupted the School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) and UC San Diego in ways we could not have foreseen just three short months ago. Winter quarter concluded with last-second conversions to online final exams. Our faculty spent their spring break frantically redesigning class plans to accommodate teaching the entire spring quarter remotely via Zoom. In light of the unique circumstances, all UC San Diego students will have the option of taking their courses Pass/No Pass.     

The philosopher Marshall McLuhan famously said, “the medium is the message.” However, in this coming of the digital age at UC San Diego, we are discovering the message is often remarkably the same—only the format changes. For example, GPS takes pride in fostering a tradition of informal exchange between faculty and students. In order to sustain this building block of our community, faculty are volunteering for digital coffee hours with our students.   

We have also seen that proximity matters to our students. Even with our large number of international and out of state students, the vast majority have chosen to stay in California, mostly in San Diego. Although we are forced to shift to digital modalities of building and maintaining our connections, we are heartened to know our students remain close at hand.

A big challenge for our students is the search for internships and employment. Most of our first year students had secured their summer internships. But some of those will melt away under the pandemic’s stress. The hunt for jobs after graduation typically takes several months. It could be longer this year. We need the help of the entire GPS community to bolster the prospects of students’ worst hit by employment disruptions. If you are interested in hiring a student for a summer internship or have a full-time role that can start after mid-June, please email us and we will get it posted on our job board.

At a great research university like UC San Diego, we take on these great challenges by investigation and public services. Our Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies has launched a series of webinars on the implications of the pandemic for Mexico and the U.S. The first session was sold out; the system could not accommodate more than 500 digital attendees. During the spring, GPS will run a webinar series on the global impacts of the pandemic. Besides contributions from our regional centers, it will feature our experts on topics like the economics of public health. Information on how to sign up will be circulated soon.

In the end, this pandemic should remind us that the fabric of globalization is real. Our students, faculty and staff come from families located around the world. The GPS community must show compassion for the world as a whole because, to quote a popular song at a past moment of strife, “We are the world.” The knowledge that will help us combat the virus, the knowledge about how to assist societies in coping with its upheaval on every aspect of our lives and the knowledge that could help us build a better infrastructure for the protection of health comes from every corner of the globe. The creation and sharing of knowledge is a global enterprise. So, too, must compassion be a global undertaking.

We wish all of the GPS community and all of your families good health,

Cowhey signature

Peter F. Cowhey
Dean and Qualcomm Endowed Chair in Communications and Technology Policy

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