Published: June 1, 2020

Panelists during the virtual CWA 2020The Conference on World Affairs’ annual tradition lives on.

After March 11, when conference organizers announced the cancellation of its in-person event in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CWA program committee scrapped their original panel list and started fresh.

The committee — made up of students and community members —had three weeks to invite panelists to virtually discuss topics related to the pandemic. Usually, the process takes a year.

“To riff on the old adage, this was a case of demand, together with necessity, being the mother of invention,” said John Griffin, CWA director.

The effort paid off.

The 72nd conference had 11,360 views during the week of April 6–10. Nearly 4,000 of them were live.

Panels focused on the economic impacts of the virus, our health post-pandemic and how to find humor in difficult times. Speakers included Simpsons writer Mike Reiss, social epidemiologist Margot Witvliet and National Jewish Health pulmonologist Irina Petrache, among many others.

A panel on historical pandemics was most popular, with more than 6,500 views during the week.

“We are all experiencing the same historical event alone, together,” said Hardcore History podcaster Dan Carlin (Hist’89) in the virtual discussion. “I’m trying to get my mind around how fascinating that is.”

Watch the panels here.

Photo courtesy CWA