Ever since social distancing and stay-at-home orders were implemented and courses switched to online formats for the remainder of the semester, the Economics and Political Science Department at St. Kate’s was concerned how it could maintain its legacy of being close-knit, supportive, and strongly connected. Despite these concerns, students and faculty from the department were quick to act and embrace the vast options available in the virtual world.
The first event in the virtual kick-off was organized by professor of economics Kristine West, PhD, and her daughter who led an “Economics and Baking” hangout session. Beforehand, West sent out a link to an article about the economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for discussion along with the recipe for a giant chocolate chip cookie to be made. The pair baked and led roughly 30 students and alumnae virtually through the recipe and discussion concerning the sensitive and encompassing consequences of the pandemic.
Shortly following this event, additional opportunities to stay connected butterflied in the St. Kate’s Economics and Political Science Facebook group. Adjunct professor of economics Andy Noll hosted a virtual Financial Markets Bingo night. To promote self-care and physical activity, Marina Gorsuch, PhD, set-up a Strava running club for the department, welcome to all students, faculty, and alumni of all abilities to share the view from their “stay at home” location. Caroline Krafft, PhD, contributed to the movement as well by planning a regular book club. The book club is currently reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, a book about how current data fails to take into account gender by treating men as the default and women as atypical. In the book, Perez dives into the many consequences and costs of this discrepancy.
Through the Facebook group, the department also has been implementing a mentorship program where first- and second-year students will get the opportunity to be connected with third- and fourth-year students. The goal of this program is to give younger students a stronger support network with other students as they navigate the world of economics and to give the older students an outlet to share all of the knowledge they have accumulated throughout their time at St. Kate’s. In following years, the department hopes to expand the mentorship program to high school students and alumnae.
With all of these efforts, the department is not only trying to maintain some normalcy, but also find ways to support each other through a difficult time. Fellow Katies are always willing and ready to reach out to those in need of socialization amidst social distancing measures.