The "Reflections on COVID-19" Chinese website originally launched on January 26. Fulfilling the hopes of overseas readers, an English interface will be added on April 1. The language version can be selected from the website's homepage.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entire globe. As Taiwan's top academic research institution, Academia Sinica has invested a great deal of research into it. In February 2020, President Liao united academic research organizations in Taiwan to form the "COVID-19 Collaboration Platform" consisting of 13 sub-platforms; in October, Academia Sinica held its Open House on the theme of COVID-19, with all institutes holding relevant discussions, lectures, or exhibitions, both online and offline; Sinica Research, the Academia Sinica Newsletter, and the Academia Sinica Secretariat have also featured responses to the epidemic.
In addition, Paul R. Katz, Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute of Modern History, gathered 19 Academia Sinica humanities and social science scholars on board a project funded by the Rapid-Response Grants on Covid-19 and the Social Sciences. Within a few months, the team composed popularly accessible science articles exploring the balance between disease prevention and human rights; analyzing the psychological impacts on frontline healthcare workers, home quarantiners, and the Taiwanese detained in Wuhan; and asking "what they did right and what they did wrong" in the 1918 Spanish flu, 19th century Chinese leprosy epidemic, and Manchurian plague, so as to reflect on what we can do now.
In the words of Dr. Katz: "The COVID-19 crisis our world is experiencing requires more than scientific solutions; this disease also needs to be understood as a sociocultural phenomenon that requires healing efforts from us all."
To broaden this project's impact, and to more rapidly respond to society's current needs, Chen Hsi-yuan, Director of the Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures (ASCDC), led his colleagues at ASCDC to build the "Reflections on COVID-19" Chinese and English websites. The website takes the 19 scholars' papers as its foundation, and adds on further readings and popular science lectures held during the pandemic. To increase interactivity, it also includes interactive games and collects reader-submitted stories about disease, opening public dialogue.
In the past three months since the launch of the "Reflections on COVID-19" Chinese website, it has received over 800 visitors and over 8000 pageviews. The English version's publication will attract an international range of interested readers, introducing everyone to Taiwan's experience in successfully stopping the epidemic's spread, and revealing Academia Sinica's timely response to the issues of Taiwanese society.
The papers in "Reflections on COVID-19" have been edited and abridged to suit the online format. The full papers are planned to be published in book format in June. The book will tackle the pandemic within the humanities and social science fields from three angles: "Historical Reflection," "Global Impact," and "Local Response." It will guide readers through various research perspectives examining changes brought about by the pandemic, and attempt to learn from our experiences in the past in order to find a suitable way to respond to the present.