COVID-19, Care, and Community

Dear Friends,

These are uncertain and unsettling times. As you likely know, with COVID-19 spreading in New York City, CUNY and SUNY have decided to cancel public events and hold all courses remotely through the rest of the spring semester. We are writing with practical updates regarding Futures Initiative programming, as well as with a few thoughts on what care and community look like at a moment of social distancing and potential isolation.

Program Updates

We will not hold any in-person events through the end of the spring semester.

– Our event, Enriching STEM: Creating Equity In and Beyond the Lab, has been postponed. Many thanks to organizer Michael Epstein and to our guest speakers for their flexibility and understanding. We will announce a new date and format in due course.

– Our spring conference, Graduate Education at Work in the World, will most likely be postponed to spring 2021. More information will be announced soon. We may do a small-scale online session on the original date (April 30 or May 1) as a preview. Once decisions have been made, we’ll make an announcement.

– Digital events will continue as planned, including HASTAC Scholars Digital Fridays. Please join us this Friday, March 13, for Critical Digital Pedagogy; and Tuesday, March 17 for Remote Instruction and Online Class Engagement. More sessions are being planned and will be announced soon.

On Care and Community

The effects of this health crisis are not evenly distributed. Structural inequality in health care, housing, wealth/income, education, and many other areas mean that people who are already vulnerable are likely to be hit harder by this pandemic. Racism plays a role in how the epidemic has been seen and how our community members are being treated. This is a moment when we have a collective opportunity and responsibility to care for one another in any ways that we can. We urge our community of readers to take stock of where you might be able to offer support, and where you need to ask for help. Sharing resources, looking in on a neighbor, staying in touch with distant family and friends—these are small acts individually, but they are vitally important in moments of crisis.

We at the Futures Initiative feel lucky to be part of a caring community. We’re reprioritizing our work in light of the current situation. If you have ideas for ways that FI can have an impact right now, please reach out to us.

We’d like to share a few resources that may be useful, particularly for those who may be adapting quickly to remote teaching scenarios.


Above all, we hope you are all finding ways to take care of yourselves and your communities during this difficult time. This is a time of heightened stress. If you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or thoughts of self-harm, know that you are not alone. Resources like NYC Well are available 24/7 to support you. Call 1-888-NYC-Well (1-888-693-9355), or text WELL to 65173 for free confidential mental health support.

Stay tuned for other announcements and changes, and thank you for your flexibility.


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309