Eleanor Conlon, '21

Citizenship in a Time of Crisis:

Re-Defining Individual Rights and Obligations to Others During the Pandemic Age

Balancing individual rights with social obligations is a challenge for any society, and the U.S. is no exception. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying struggles for racial justice have raised new questions and left individual citizens facing difficult choices. Do they see their primary obligations in these times of public health and economic uncertainty as being to themselves, to their families, or to a larger national or global community? How do they understand their obligations to others? For example, what do they think about economic stimulus plans or unemployment benefits? Do they think that the rich should help the poor? The pandemic has exposed long-standing racial and socioeconomic inequities and injustices. But people remain highly divided. What are they divided about? How do they explain these divisions? This project will interview different generations within several different families to see how different people of different ages view the political challenges of this pandemic era and explain their own priorities. Are they hunkering down? Protesting? Protesting against protests? Growing more hopeful about politics or more cynical? Has the pandemic or the Black Lives Matter movement altered their views or prompted them to think differently? What kind of future do they envision ahead?