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Head of School Roundtable Contemplated Polarized Positions Developing Amid the Pandemic
Joanne Miceli

The spring Head of School Roundtable series continued on April 24 with a discussion of the polarized positions that are developing as the U.S. responds to COVID-19 and prepares to return to some version of normal life. Nearly two dozen students, faculty and staff members joined Head of School Chris Fortunato and award-winning scholar, teacher, public servant and human rights activist Timothy Patrick McCarthy, PhD, for the timely, online conversation.

“A number of fault lines, whether real or perceived, seem to have formed among various stakeholders as the nation prepares to return to work, school and a sense of normalcy,” Mr. Fortunato said. He cited differences of opinion between local and state governments, states and the federal government, political parties, geographic regions, socioeconomic groups, and those focused on science and public health versus the economic reality of the shutdown. 

Dr. McCarthy, a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a visiting professor of public service and social justice at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, noted that it is important to think about these fault lines at this moment in our history and to consider their impact in our own lives. “What are we doing to maybe double down on those fault lines, and what are we doing to try to smooth them over?” he asked. “What are we doing to try to build bridges and cross boundaries and extend our empathy and compassion for people so we can be sure those fault lines might be less destructive than they otherwise might be?”

Dr. McCarthy offered his thoughts on a number of divisive and difficult issues that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic, and students and faculty took the opportunity to ask questions and offer opinions. To view the Roundtable, click “play” below.

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