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The Curiosity Series: Pandemic spaces yesterday, today, and tomorrow

Category:Event Highlight
By: Michael Conley
July 02, 2020
Image of people crowded around TTC bus waiting to board.

Torontonians await a streetcar during pre-COVID busyness. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Through interdisciplinary conversations, the SDZ's Curiosity Series helps answer questions and spark innovative ideas relating to issues of communal importance.

From the not-so-Spanish flu to survival behaviours to restarting Toronto neighbourhoods, the Science Discovery Zone's The Curiosity Series: How will our interactions with space change? described relationships between us, physical space and COVID.

Hosted virtually on May 26, the event saw Ryerson faculty— associate professors Ingrid Hehmeyer (History of Science) and Kelly McShane (Health Services), assistant professor Ian Young (Occupational Health) and Design Fabrication Zone Director Darcie Watson— describe COVID responses and their social repercussions. This interdisciplinary conversation gave attendees a chance to speculate on how their lives, and the lives of those close to them, might be affected by ongoing social changes.

Through this discussion, conceptual bridges were built in hopes of inspiring creative solutions for problems today and tomorrow. For some, such as professor Hehmeyer, understanding the present requires attention to the past. She uses an example from Toronto's response to the so-called Spanish Flu in 1918: the City "highly encouraged" flexible work hours to lessen disease-spreading groups at workplaces and on the TTC.

Toward the event's end, each professor was asked to provide a reason for optimism in our current living situation. Professor Hehmeyer received emails from students who are bridging connections between the past and the present; professor Young highlighted Canada's largely impressive political leadership; professor McShane described the successes that both her community organizations had in their digital pivots; DFZ director Watson looks forward to creative industry solutions from widespread interdisciplinary collaboration.


For more useful knowledge and friendly campus faces, check out the Curiosity Series' August installment when panelists discuss creative inspiration through disruption.