How Will Hindsight Treat 2020?

Share This:




How Will Hindsight Treat 2020?


Korena Di Roma Howley, Contributing Editor

When today’s undergraduates look back on 2020, they may remember broadly the life-altering beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic, the powerful and pivotal fight for social justice across the United States, and an unprecedented presidential campaign and election.

But what details will surface from their personal memories? After all, big stories like these don’t tell us about the students who struggled to find their place in a foreign country when colleges closed, or the ones who gathered friends and colleagues and showed up at hospitals with excess time and big ideas. They don’t reveal the ingenuity of individual teachers and conference organizers or the successes and failures that followed new approaches to learning.

Like others in academia, during these extraordinary times, physics students and educators face a set of challenges unique to their field. In this issue we feature strong statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the need for increased diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in physics education. We highlight some of the ways SPS members applied their diverse skill sets to pandemic relief, and we look in on efforts to adapt to the changing academic landscape, including via virtual lab courses and a Minecraft graduation ceremony. For those in need of practical resources, we offer tips on building the resilience needed to navigate these uncharted waters and ways to sustain a healthy SPS chapter online.

When students look back on this year, and perhaps the ones to follow, maybe they’ll also remember all the ways that they and their fellow physicists rose to the challenges of their time. To paraphrase one student who helped build the extensive virtual backdrop for UC Berkeley’s 2020 graduation ceremony—if we can get through this, imagine what we can do in the future.

 The 2020−21 SPS National Council virtually kicked off the fall semester with ideas on community building and connecting with SPS chapters during these unprecedented times. Image courtesy of SPS National.

More from this department