By Micha Bennett for the School of Global Environmental Sustainability
Kathleen Galvin, PhD, is the director of The Africa Center and a professor in the Department of Anthropology and Geography at Colorado State University. She is also a senior research scientist for the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, an advising faculty member for the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, and an affiliate faculty member and Assistant Director of Educational Programs & Chair Curriculum Committee with the School of Global Environmental Sustainability.
*Answers have been edited for clarity and length
How has social/physical distancing affected The Africa Center’s operations?
All Africa Center events are canceled but we continue to have online meetings regarding projects that are occurring through the Africa Center. Everything I do is now online and the largest time commitment for me now is my teaching. I’m teaching an undergraduate course called Human Ecology. With the great help of the IT staff at CSU as well as colleagues, the transition to online teaching has been more smooth than I anticipated.
The COVID-19 pandemic is, by definition, a global issue. What kind of information is out there regarding the virus in Africa?
Certainly we are not hearing a lot about how countries in Africa are doing. I understand through colleagues that South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria are doing pretty well but there is not a lot of information out there without digging into the online news. I think the mainstream media is focused on the US, Europe and perhaps Asia. The numbers of Covid-19 cases in Africa seem to be low relative to the rest of the world. Or they are not being reported. Health care services are not abundant in some places in Africa so cases may go unnoticed by the public health communities.
You had an upcoming trip to Africa canceled because of the pandemic. What are the implications of this and how are you moving forward?
Actually two different trips to Kenya have been cancelled. One, originally set for June, is funded on a NASA grant. Pat Keys from SoGES is the Principal Investigator on that one. We organized a workshop in Nairobi on the project, which is now postponed. The workshop has been important to the NASA project and the hope is that it can occur later this year or through some online platform. The other trip is to the International Rangelands Congress (IRC) where I have had a session accepted. This congress has been postponed to 2021.
What has been biggest challenge to working remotely while CSU is operating online?
Technology challenges slow down all work.
Do you have any success stories so far in regards to this new way or living and working?
The good thing is that I’m connecting with all kinds of collaborators and friends that I may not have done otherwise. I had an online chat with several of my high school classmates! It was funny, full of one-liners and unexpected. It made my day.