散詩語録

How should we live in the post-coronavirus era?

Mitsuo Ochi

  新型コロナウイルス感染症が世界で猛威を振るっています。世界の感染者数は1,800万人、亡くなった人は68万人に上っています(2020年8月3日時点)。日本でも発出されていた緊急事態宣言が5月25日に解除されたものの、第二波、第三波の流行への懸念は拭えず、私たちはコロナと共に生きていく道を歩むほかありません。
 広島大学では新年度の入学式を中止したほか、キャンパス入構禁止、対面授業の中止など、学生の皆さんにはさまざまな不便をお掛けしてまいりました。ようやく6月1日に行動指針のレベルを3(高度警戒)から2(要警戒)に落としたのに続き、7月1日からレベル1.5(要注意)に引き下げました。安心・安全なキャンパスで学生の皆さんが存分に学べる日を目指して、教職員一同、全力で支援してまいります。
 新型コロナウイルス流行の影響で生活が困窮している学生を支援するため広島大学の教職員に対して4月21日から全国に先駆けて「応急学生支援金」の呼び掛けを行いました。このニュースをご覧になった多くの卒業生、保護者、市民の皆さまからも、励ましのお言葉と共に温かい支援を賜ることとなりました。6月15日までの募集期間に卒業生や一般の方も含め1,173件、59,211,000円にも上るご寄付をいただき、延べ841人(2020年8月3日時点)の学生に1人月額3万円を支給しました。すでに2回目の支援を受けた学生も徐々に増えてきています。ご支援賜りました全ての方々に、心よりお礼申し上げます。
 オンライン授業に全学を挙げて取り組み、4月8日から開始しました。新入生は少し遅れましたが、4月15日には実施できる体制を早急に整えました。試行錯誤しながら積み重ねた貴重な実践だけに、コロナ流行が収まったらまた元のやり方に戻すというのはあり得ません。ポスト・コロナ、ウィズ・コロナの時代ではネット環境を十分に整え、新しい授業体制を模索すべきであると考えています。
 例えば、インターネットを通じて世界各国の著名な大学の授業を無料で提供する大規模公開オンライン講座MOOCs(Massive Open Online Courses)が注目されています。コロナ禍が収束した後は、こうしたオンライン授業が日本全国で新たなスタンダードになっていくのではないでしょうか。
 歴史家のニーアル・ファーガソン氏は「ネットワークはあらゆる類いの伝達を増幅します。デマも悪意も病理ウイルスもサイバーウイルスもネットに乗れば、感染を広げる。ネット世界は不安定と脆弱を内包している。コロナ禍はこの負の側面の表れです」とインタビューで述べています(2020年4月12日付読売新聞)。国全体で取り組む問題ではありますが、ネットワーク活用の流れを止めることはできません。
 ソーシャルディスタンス(社会的距離)という言葉が示すように、従来とは異なる生活スタイルに慣れていく必要もあります。「新しい日常」が始まる中で、ポスト・コロナの時代は世界と人のネットワークのありようを、また、社会全体の方向性をあらためて問うていると思います。

The novel coronavirus has spread like wildfire across the world, with the total number of globally confirmed cases having exceeded 18 million and the death toll having risen to more than 680,000 (both figures are valid as of 3rd August 2020). The Japanese government lifted the State of Emergency on 25th May 2020, but real concerns remain about possible 2nd and 3rd waves of the pandemic. That means that we will have to co-exist with this virus for many years to come.
Under such circumstances, HU had no choice but to inconvenience all of our students; for example, we had to cancel the 2020 academic year entrance ceremony, implement a no-entry-to-campus policy, and suspend all on-campus classes etc. Finally, from 1st June 2020, HU’s alert level was reduced to Level 2 (Exercise caution) from the previous Level 3 (High alert). Then, from 1st July it came down to Level 1.5 (Be careful). All faculty and administrative members of HU are united, committed to supporting all students until everybody is able to make a safe, secure and focused return to on-campus classes.
HU was amongst the quickest of the universities in Japan to respond to the crisis by launching its ‘Emergency Aid for HU Students’ to its faculty and administrative members on 21st April 2020. After the news about the Aid was broadcast, many alumni of HU, parents or families of HU students, and the citizens of Hiroshima gave us warm words of encouragement and kindly donated money to the Aid.
This financial support was for those HU students who have been under financial strain caused by the virus outbreak. When the donation period ended on 15th June, 1,173 individuals (HU alumni and the general public), had generously made donations amounting to 59,211,000 yen. This has amounted to 30,000 yen per month to each qualifying individual, and so far, a total of 841 students (as of 3rd August 2020) have received this financial support. The number of aid recipients who have received a second round of financial support is also increasing. I would like to express my deep gratitude to those people who have generously contributed money.
After making a concerted effort across the whole university, HU was able to commence online classes (live-streaming lectures or on-demand lectures) from 8th April 2020. Belatedly, HU started to provide online classes with newly enrolled students from 15th April 2020, by promptly installing an online class system. I think that we cannot simply put all live streaming lectures/on-demand lectures back to their former teaching method once we have seen the end of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Instead, I think that we should first aim to establish a sufficient level of internet access and start exploring a new system of conducting classes at higher education institutions in the post-coronavirus era of Japan.
For example, a massive open online course (MOOCs) has been drawing attention in recent years. This is a Web-based educational offering, in which participating students have access to lectures provided by globally renowned universities free of charge. I somehow feel that an open online course like MOOCs is going to set a new standard among universities in Japan.
In his online interview with the Yomiuri Shinbun newspaper (the 12th April 2020 morning edition), Niall Ferguson, an historian and Harvard Professor, said the following: “highly integrated networks can amplify the rate and extent of an item being disseminated; be it fake news, human viruses, or malware computer viruses. Once any of them is on the networks, it can spread across them in no time. The networked world is intrinsically unstable and vulnerable. So, the calamity caused by the novel coronavirus has just shown the downside of networks.” An issue like this should be addressed at a national level; no one can stop us from becoming a networked society.
As the expression ‘social distancing’ shows, we also need to start accommodating ourselves to a completely different lifestyle. While the ‘new normal’ is becoming established as part of our daily life, the post-coronavirus era seems to be leading us to question once again how the networks between individuals and the world should be structured, and in which direction our society as a whole ought to be heading.

 


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