Leaving 2020 Behind, Entering 2021 Burnt Out
Students, faculty and staff at institutions of higher education report mass burnout when reflecting on 2020 and planning for 2021. While the vaccine rollouts are promising, higher ed still faces a tough road ahead. As hubs of intellectual discourse and argument, college and university communities wrestled and sought to make sense of 2020: the coronavirus pandemic; economic instability; the killing of George Floyd and other unarmed Black people, and resulting protests and discussions on structural racism and antiracist commitment; and divisive political campaigns. Concurrent with the sociopolitical and public health challenges, many students, faculty, and staff grappled with major lifestyle changes, and a new set of challenges: loss of income, balancing childcare and other family responsibilities while teaching or learning remotely, securing stable wifi and work space, struggling to develop key connections with peers and mentors over video calls, living and learning by new safety precautions on campus, and being infected with COVID-19, to name a few. Academically, colleges and universities thrive on thorough research, creative ideas, flexible adaptation, and engaged community members. The challenge going into 2021 will be maintaining academic work while nimbly adjusting to the changing circumstances in the local and global communities.
Rory Kelly, MCF Program Associate and MCFeed Contributor