12. COVID-19: The Future

Dear Parents,

A lot has been written about a post-COVID-19 world. When will things get back to normal? What will it be like, after COVID-19 is contained? Can we go back to work, to school?  

 

This letter will be about COVID-19: The Future

 

I believe that in this Era of Pandemics, it is not so much about anticipating a world post-COVID-19, but preparing for a world with COVID-19. 

 

Consider this news bulletin:

Ladies and gentlemen, over 400,000 people have died this year from an airborne, contagious, viral infection, spread from person to person in close contact through sneezing and coughing. Once infected, the virus targets the respiratory system, causing a fever and cough. There is no known cure, but there is a vaccination, and 85% of children worldwide have been vaccinated.”

 

Sound familiar? You may think it is from a post-COVID-19 world. It is not. This news bulletin is actually about measles, and the year is 2019. So, do we live in a post-measles world? No, we live in a world with measles. And we will live in a world with COVID-19. At the moment, we are living in a world that is out of balance, the virus has brought us to our knees, but soon the pendulum will swing, and like it did with measles, we will get out ahead of this.

 

Native Americans have a word for this situation, koyaanisqatsi, which translates as “unbalanced life.” When life is out of balance, it is a call for another way of living, a call for change, to restore balance. And here we are, looking to restore balance, now that COVID-19 has knocked us off-course…

 

I do not say this to scare you – I say this so we can all have the right expectations and begin to innovate, restore balance, and build our future together. Yes, we will go back to work, and yes, we will go back to school. But are we ready to ask better questions about work and school? For example, who will be the Saudi Aramco or Exxonmobil of virus containment? There is a trillion-dollar global economy ready to shift gears, ready to move the world forward with jobs we have not yet imagined and learning platforms that are at the beginning of the age of virtual, adaptive cycles of individualized learning. It is very exciting!

 

Stallion Nation has a pioneering spirit, and we can lead the way for higher education. I have said “We don’t just teach, we transform,” and I believe we have the competencies and tools to create the future we want. We are a strong community, and this particular class of students who are currently enrolled at AUN will always have this COVID-19 event marking their time together. This shared experience of a global event will bind them close together. Down the road, they will tell stories of packing up and going home, sorting out online learning, reconnecting with family and friends, and staying connected to each other. This Corona Class of students are resilient, and they are the ones who will show us the way out of this current crisis and create the blueprint for the future. The world is waiting for them. 

 

Always, with best regards, stay safe, Semper Gumby

 

Dawn Dekle, PhD

AUN President (Vice-Chancellor)

 

Teaser: stay tuned for the next letter from the desk of the AUN President, on the topic “COVID-19: Can We Imagine The Future Together?”