Fostering Hope and Collective Behavioral Response in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Leveraging insights from sustainability and climate change


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the fragility of our highly globalized, interconnected society. Never before have we experienced such a large-scale opportunity to witness, in vivo, experiments in collective action occurring worldwide at a single point in time. Beginning in February 2020, at any given moment, up to half of the world’s population has been living under strict orders to modify everyday behaviors to slow the virus’s spread, protect vulnerable populations, and prevent the collapse of healthcare systems. Concurrently, the world’s social, economic, and ecological systems are more precarious than ever, due to serious environmental challenges: mass-scale resource scarcity, skyrocketing biodiversity loss, and accelerating climate change, among other sustainability challenges. 

In this project, we explore the intersectionality among various theoretical approaches on behavioral responses to COVID-19 and analogous sustainability fields, such as climate change. Using a variety of interventions that build on the Lab’s prior work--such as postcards, interviews and the development of virtual communities--we employ humanistic modes of inquiry to understand the nexus of individual and collective emotional and action-oriented responses amid COVID-19.