As an art historian, I’ve thought a lot about how global events and crises bear fruit in creative and technological endeavors. The immediate example that comes to my mind is how the Renaissance was born out of the Black Death in the 14th century. To say the Renaissance was a period of innovation is an understatement. Some of the most important technologies were invented during that time that made our world become more democratic and modern. The printing press and moveable type are such inventions that changed the world for the better as it allowed for books to be printed cheaply which made knowledge accessible and the public literate.
Likewise, this pandemic has also borne out innovation in the ways our own union operates. We meet via Zoom and in-person simultaneously, use online balloting for our ratification and election processes, Canvas for posting important information, and email for communication. Technology is embedded in everything we do and I don’t see that changing. Technology, by and large, has made our organization more informed, more democratic, and more inclusive. I am proud of the ways in which we have the ability to engage our adjunct colleagues, meeting them where they are as many work at multiple campuses. The same goes for being able to connect with all our colleagues who have other responsibilities that keep them from being able to come to meetings in person. I think the one lesson many of us have learned is that our lives are big – and sometimes overwhelming – and the capability to have flexibility so that we can deal with all that life throws at us is so important.
I don’t know what the future holds as I finish this position in June, but I do hope the spirit of innovation and finding ways to help and engage our members continues long after this pandemic becomes just another crisis on the historical timeline.
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