IFK Panel 3 June @ 17.30 (SA), Inequality after Covid 19 – Letlhokwa Mpedi (UJ Dean of Law), Sridhar Venkatapuram (KCL Global Health Institute), Steven Friedman (UJ Professor, political scientist and public intellectual) – please register: https://universityofjohannesburg.us/4ir/covid-19/

Please join us for a panel discussion on Inequality after Covid, Wednesday 1 June @ 17.30 South Africa, W Europe |  16.30 UK | 11.30 US East Coast | 23.30 Beijing China | 01.30 [Thu] Sydney). Please “arrive” (log in) 15 minutes beforehand to ensure time for you to be admitted prior to the event as we admit participants individually for security reasons. We start sharp on the hour. To join you first need to register here: https://universityofjohannesburg.us/4ir/covid-19/

Panelists:

  • Professor Letlhokwa Mpedi is Executive Dean of Law at the University of Johannesburg and a specialist in labour law and social protection.
  • Dr Sridhar Venkatapuram is Senior Lecturer in Global Health and Philosophy at King’s College Global Health Institute.
  • Professor Steven Friedman is Professor at the University of Johannesburg. He is a political scientist, columnist, public intellectual, activist, former trade unionist and journalist.

Facilitated by Professor Alex Broadbent, Director of the Institute for the Future of Knowledge at the University of Johannesburg

You need to register to watch this live, and it will be posted as a recording afterwards. Register here:

https://universityofjohannesburg.us/4ir/covid-19/

This is the fourth in a series of webinars on Reimaging the World After COVID-19, organised by the Institute for the Future of Knowledge in collaboration with the UJ Library and Information Centre on the initiative of the Vice Chancellor’s Office at the University of Johannesburg.

Inequality After COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified inequalities between and across different groups and countries across the world. Effective social protection has been critical to the reduction of vulnerability. However, as many countries struggle to provide universal healthcare, the outbreak of COVID-19 has put pressure on healthcare systems globally. This has seen governments redirecting fiscus towards curtailing the effects of the pandemic, including in countries where healthcare systems are under-resourced and poorly staffed.

So far as we know, COVID-19 is markedly more dangerous for older people. Higher proportions of serious, critical and fatal COVID-19 are also observed among those suffering from certain other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and pre-existing heart disease. On the other hand, certain population groups are disproportionately impacted by economic and social disruption caused both by the disease itself and measures that are taken in an effort to curtail its spread. These include groups already marginalised by pre-existing structural inequalities among others: women and children, the elderly; racial, ethnic and religious minorities; People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA); Persons with Disabilities (PWD) (physical and/or mental); and migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. Not all of these people are not at high risk from COVID-19 itself, while many people who are at risk from COVID-19 are not in this group. In particular, the very strong age-related gradient in risk of serious, critical and fatal COVID-19 means that the wealthier populations, which tend to be older, are over-represented among the groups at highest direct risk from COVID-19. Conversely, the poorer and thus younger a population is, the less at risk it tends to be from COVID-19, but the more at risk from disruption to economies, societies and health services created by the disease and associated response measures.

The world is more unequal than any single country. According to an Oxfam’s 2020 report titled, Time to Care: Unpaid and Underpaid Care Work and the Global Inequality Crisis, the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 60% of the global population; and the 22 richest men in the world have more wealth than all the women in Africa. With closure of schools, many girls and children from low-income households have been affected, and some may not be able to go back to schools. Lockdown regulations restricting mobility have affected activities of younger workers as well as those in precarious types of employment. As rates of relative deprivation increase, states have introduced cash-based assistance and other forms of social support. Migrants have been responded to negatively across the world – Chinese descendants have reported xenophobia, with their businesses attacked; and African migrants in China have also have also suffered the same fate. COVID-19 has been seen the rise of right-wing nationalist-populist governments. On the other hand, the pandemic has also underscored the way that individual fates are intertwined in public health, and the necessity of strong public healthcare provision for responding to collective threats. It is fair to surmise that universal healthcare may in future be elevated in a number of countries’ policy priorities.

This webinar will explore the various issues concerning inequality that COVID-19 has highlighted as well as those created by the response to the disease. How should nation-states strengthen public health systems for future threats of this kind? Will conditions for precarious workers change post-pandemic? Governments will, for the short term at least, want to find alternative ways in which to support livelihoods, on pain of widespread malnutrition or even famine. How they are going to respond to increased deprivation? Will governments be able to fund these interventions? Will loans from international lenders come with conditions that may impact such schemes? How will COVID-19 influence migration regulation and border management, and ultimately, how are governments going to achieve a more inclusive society in which the respect for human rights for all will be achieved? Fundamentally, are there choices we can make now, as nations and a world, that will reduce the inequality and the hardship that falls on those at the bottom of the global pile?

Register here: https://universityofjohannesburg.us/4ir/covid-19/

 

 

IFK Panel 27 May: Data and Delusion after Covid 19 – Shakir Mohammed (Google Deepmind), Chris Harley (UJ Engineering), Olaf Dammann (Tufts Public Health and Community Medicine) https://universityofjohannesburg.us/4ir/covid-19-webinar-3/ #epitwitter @mediauj

Please join us for a panel discussion on Data and delusion after Covid 19, Wednesday 27 May @ 1pm South Africa, W Europe |  12 noon UK | 7am US East Coast | 7pm Beijing China. Please “arrive” (log in) 15 minutes beforehand to ensure time for you to be admitted prior to the event as we admit participants individually for security reasons. We start sharp on the hour. To join you first need to register.

Panelists:

  • Dr. Shakir Mohammed is a Senior Researcher at Google DeepMind in London, United Kingdom (UK).
  • Professor Charis Harley is an academic based in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), South Africa.
  • Professor Olaf Dammann is Vice-Chair of Public Health at Tufts University in Boston, United States (US), Professor of Perinatal Neuroepidemiology at Hannover Medical School, Germany, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science at the University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway.

Facilitated by Professor Alex Broadbent, Director of the Institute for the Future of Knowledge at the University of Johannesburg

Please register if you wish to watch this live. A recording will also be posted afterwards.

This is the third in a series of webinars on Reimagining the World After COVID-19, organised by the Institute for the Future of Knowledge in collaboration with the UJ Library and Information Centre on the initiative of the Vice Chancellor’s Office at the University of Johannesburg.

Data and delusion after COVID-19

An epidemic has a single centre from which disease spreads: an epicenter. A pandemic is what happens when the disease no longer spreads from a single centre but circulates and spreads throughout the population. The COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by a pandemic of data. Data is offered, analysed, re-packaged and criticized by mighty international organisations and by tiny local outfits. Even private individuals with no prior expertise or interest in data, disease, or statistics spend hours poring over graphs and critiquing case fatality estimates.

Yet this proliferation of data and analysis has not yielded effective predictions. Instead, it has demonstrated how ill-equipped we are to deal with this new, non-hierarchical, distributed information context. Leading scientists have proved dramatically wrong. Or perhaps not – it depends who you ask. The unfolding pattern of spread still surprises us at every turn – except those who predicted it all along. Nothing is more common than the common cold, and coronavirus variants are one of its causes: yet we seem unable make reliable predictions about COVID-19.

This webinar explores a range of issues relating to data and trust in science in the aftermath of COVID-19. What went wrong with the modelling approach to prediction – if, indeed, anything did go wrong? How should policy and scientific research interact, and how should policy makers make use of data? Can people without domain-specific knowledge use data to predict better than the experts in that domain? If not, then can data analysts themselves make predictions merely by studying patterns in data? Turning to the generation of data, how does the individual interest in privacy weight against the public interest in private information, notably location, which can be very useful in the context of a pandemic?

Our improved data processing abilities did not help us as much as we might have imagined in this situation. Machine learning, in particular, thrives on spotting complex patterns in noisy datasets, and doing it fast; yet is has been conspicuously absent from the efforts to predict the course of this pandemic.

Register here

 

 

This Thursday at 11:30am (via Zoom) the @CHESS_DurhamUni reading group will be discussing our recent report from the IFK, ‘A Framework for Decisions in a Post-COVID World’ by @AlexBroadbent

This Thursday at 11:30am (via Zoom) the @CHESS_DurhamUni reading group will be discussing ‘A Framework for Decisions in a Post-COVID World‘ by @AlexBroadbent . . . please contact admin.chess@durham.ac.uk for the paper and joining instructions #COVID19 #socialpolicy #policymakers

Panel 20 May: COVID-19 and the Emerging World Order

Please join us for a panel discussion on COVID-19 and the Emerging World Order, Wednesday 20 May @ 16.00-17:00pm South Africa, W Europe | 10:00-11:00 Beijing | 15.00-16:00 UK | 11.30-12.30 US East Coast. Please “arrive” (log in) 15 minutes beforehand to ensure time for you to be admitted prior to the event as we admit participants individually for security reasons. We start sharp on the hour.

Panelists:

  • Dr David Masondo (Deputy Finance Minister of South Africa)
  • Mr Grant Harris (former Advisor to US President Barack Obama on issues relating to sub-Saharan Africa)
  • Professor Dong Wang (Executive Director of the Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding, Peking University)
  • Dr Oluwaseun Tella (Senior Researcher, Institute for the Future of Knowledge, University of Johannesburg)

Facilitated by Professor Alex Broadbent, Director of the Institute for the Future of Knowledge at the University of Johannesburg

You need to register to watch this live, and it will be posted as a recording afterwards. Register here: https://universityofjohannesburg.us/4ir/covid-19/

This is the second in a series of webinars on Reimagining the World After COVID-19, organised by the Institute for the Future of Knowledge on the initiative of the Vice Chancellor’s Office at the University of Johannesburg.

Our first panelist, Dr David Masondo, is the Deputy Finance Minister for South Africa. He obtained his PhD at New York University and his prior degrees at the University of the Witwatersrand. He has held various political and management positions in provincial and national government. He has an abiding passion for education and has lectured on various topics in political economy at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is founding chairperson of the Topisa Trust, which provides ongoing support to youth to promote education, sport and cultural excellence in villages in Limpopo.

Our second panellist, Mr Grant Harris, is Chief Executive Officer at Harris Africa Partners LLC, Adjunct Professor of Global Management at Kellogg School of Management, Lecturer at University of California Berkeley. Until 2015 he was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at The White House under US president Barack Obama. He was educated at Berkeley, Princeton, and Yale Law School.

Our third panellist, Professor Dong Wang, is Executive Director of the Institute for Global Cooperation and Understanding, Peking University. He has considerable expertise in US-China relations, and in 2019 addressed the 11th US-China Political Party Leaders Dialogue on the topic.

Our fourth panellist, Dr Oluwaseun Tella, is Senior Research Associate at the Institute for the Future of Knowledge at the University of Johannesburg. He is a specialist in soft power and international relations, especially between China, Africa and the US, as well as within the continent of Africa.

Register here: https://universityofjohannesburg.us/4ir/covid-19/

UJ Panel on the Post-COVID World, Wed 13 May 5.30pm SA time, with Johan Giesecke, Joyce Banda and Sehaam Khan. I’ll be facilitating. Can’t wait! Register for the webinar here: https://universityofjohannesburg.us/4ir/covid-19/ #epitwitter

This is the first in a series of webinars on Shaping the Post-COVID World, organised by the Institute for the Future of Knowledge on the initiative of the Vice Chancellor’s Office at the University of Johannesburg.

You need to register to watch this live, and it will be posted as a recording afterwards. Register here: https://universityofjohannesburg.us/4ir/covid-19/

Historians distinguish two ends to a pandemic: the biological end, consisting in the eradication or control of the disease, and the social end, when people stop fearing the disease and society resumes its normal shape. The “Post-COVID World” may never come from a biological perspective, and some are also saying that it may never come from a social perspective either – that the world will never be the same again. Whatever the case, it is clear that the pandemic that took us by surprise was in fact highly predictable, and indeed predicted by the World Health Organisation, the former President of the United States, and many others. It is, moreover, anything but unprecedented. Sometimes, we cannot predict; but other times, we can, but don’t. Whatever the Post-COVID World is like, our first lesson must be to think more carefully and openly about the future – starting with the Post-COVID World itself.

Our first panelist, Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda, founded and leads the People’s Party in Malawi. She was President of Malawi 2012-2014. She is an advocate for the rights of women and children, two groups who have been disproportionately affected by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic despite being less at risk from the disease itself. Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries, with over half the population living in poverty and a quarter in extreme poverty (food insecurity and malnutrition), with significant dependence on foreign aid, rendering it vulnerable to global economic downturn. The human consequences of economic downturn will linger in Malawi and elsewhere long after the lockdowns in Europe and America have eased. When the world looks to the future, it must bear these consequences in mind.

Professor Johan Giesecke is an infectious disease epidemiologist, and the scientist masterminding the Swedish response. He has advocated focusing on what comes next – most strikingly, when he asked Australia whether it intended to keep its borders shut for 30 years, in the unlikely event it succeeded in eradicating the virus within them. Contrasting with the “lockdowns” implemented in many countries, the Swedish approach has been to focus on evidence-based (rather than precautionary) interventions to slow the spread of disease, and on protecting vulnerable groups. This is sometimes referred to as a “herd immunity” strategy, which is inaccurate; protecting the vulnerable is the goal, while herd immunity is a by-product of any strategy short of eradication. The Swedish approach stands in contrast to lockdowns pursued in many European countries, and is motivated in part by an eye on the medium and long term future.

Professor Sehaam Khan is a microbiologist and Dean of Health Sciences at the University of Johannesburg. Under lockdown, South African universities have moved to online delivery of teaching. Opinions differ as to how successful this is proving, and how sustainable it may be. Not all students are able to access online resources, and not all subjects are amenable to online teaching. Disciplines requiring hands-on training, including some medical disciplines and laboratory sciences, are heavily impacted by lockdown. Much more than schools, universities mix generations, and while evidence suggests that schools can be reopened without much risk, there is little evidence about universities. The sector will need to think ahead, bringing together health expertise with a deep understanding nature of the university and its and societal role, in order to emerge strong from the chaos.

A Framework for Decisions in a Post-COVID World: an aid to policy-makers in South Africa. A report of the Institute for the Future of Knowledge at the University of Johannesburg

A Framework for Decisions in a Post-COVID World – South Africa – Report 1.2

Decision Tool SA 1.0

Executive Summary

The document identifies six fundamental policy priorities which, together, constitute a framework for making all-things-considered policy decisions. These decisions must respond to immediate needs for action, but must also be taken with a view to the future (the post-COVID world). The policy decisions that frame them are not created by this pandemic: they existed before it, will persist beyond it, and constitute the reason that we care about COVID-19 and its consequences.

Available evidence suggests that South Africa’s lockdown lacks a strong evidence base, especially when compared to moderate scenarios rather than complete inaction. A one-page analysis (two-pages in the case of health) is provided for each of the following priorities.

  1. Health
  2. Food security and nutrition
  3. Education
  4. Economy and unemployment
  5. Vulnerable groups
  6. Governance and enforcement

A decision tool is offered for scoring these components to represent the impact of lockdown or other measure on that policy priority, and weighting them to represent the relative accordance afforded to e.g. health, the economy, and so on. This approach is customizable: items may be altered, added and subtracted from the list of policy priorities.

While the report writers offer their own recommendations based on the rationale encapsulated in their one-page summaries, in the end these are of secondary importance. This document is meant to support rather than prescribe to policy-makers, by enabling a decision process that makes implicit assumptions and value-judgements clear.

Our primary recommendation is that this framework be adopted, adapted and used by policy-makers for both making decisions and communicating the rationale for decisions, especially (i) decisions to allow and prohibit particular behaviours at different lockdown levels and (ii) decisions to move from one level to another.

Read the report | Access the decision tool

Note on versions: 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 etc denote minor corrections and updates, e.g. spelling, references, etc. Versions can be used interchangeably for all intents and purposes. Substantive new editions are marked by an increment from 1.1, 1.2 etc to 2.0, 2.1, etc.

M, PhD and PostDoc opportunities at UJ

The University of Johannesburg has released a special call offering masters, doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships, for start asap, deadline 8th Feb 2020.

These are in any area, but I would like to specifically invite anyone wishing to work with myself (or colleagues at UJ) on any of the areas listed below. From May 2020, I will be Director of the Institute for the Future of Knowledge at UJ (a new institute – no website yet – but watch this space!), and being part of this enterprise will, I think, be very exciting for potential students/post-docs. I would be delighted to receive inquiries in any of the following areas:

  • Philosophy of medicine
  • Philosophy of epidemiology
  • Causation
  • Counterfactuals
  • Causal inference
  • Prediction
  • Explanation (not just causal)
  • Machine learning (in relation to any of the above)
  • Cognitive science
  • Other things potentially relevant to the Institute, my interests, your interests… please suggest!

If you’re interested please get in touch: abbroadbent@uj.ac.za

The call is here, along with instructions for applicants:

2020 Call for URC Scholarships for Master’s_Doctoral_Postdoctoral Fellowships_Senior Postdoctoral fellowships

JOB: Post Doc in Philosophy of Medicine and/or Epidemiology, Johannesburg

The African Centre for Epistemology and Philosophy of Science in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Johannesburg seeks applications for postdoctoral fellowships in the philosophy of medicine and/or the philosophy of epidemiology. The successful candidate(s) will be expected (a) to pursue his/her own course of research in these fields and (b) to work with Prof Alex Broadbent, Dr Ben Smart, Ms Zinhle Mncube, Mr Chad Harris, and the rest of the ACEPS team, especially in relation to the project Health and Medicine in Africa. Start date negotiable, stipend is ZAR 220 000 per annum and is tax free.

Deadline 31 October 2017

Application form: https://goo.gl/1DJkDg

Submission link: https://goo.gl/mVJq59

 

More about ACEPS:

https://www.uj.ac.za/faculties/humanities/aceps/

http://africancentre-epistemology-phil-sci.weebly.com/

 

More about UJ Department of Philosophy:

https://www.uj.ac.za/faculties/humanities/Department%20of%20Philosophy/

 

More about UJ:

https://www.uj.ac.za/