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Hopes & Challenges Project

The coronavirus pandemic has brought major changes to the way we live our lives, encouraging us to rethink many of our values and ideas and to reconsider the future of our communities. Hopes & Challenges through COVID-19 in West Georgia seeks to engage the regional community (Carroll, Haralson, and Heard Counties) in collecting personal stories, documenting experiences relating to this pandemic and reflecting on the impact that it has had and will have on us as individuals, on our families, on our workplaces, and on our communities. The Hopes & Challenges Project will collaborate with organizations around our region to collect and preserve these stories and artifacts, and to share these stories through a forthcoming webpage and executive summary report. This is a project of the University of West Georgia COVID-19 Research Collective.

This work will contribute to the public understanding of the impact of COVID-19. Our initiative follows the lead of existing efforts on the part of historians, artists, social scientists and museums across the country to document this unique moment, including the Atlanta History Center and Smithsonian Institution (see https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/style/museums-coronavirus-protests-2020.html?referringSource=articleShare).

The project team at the University of West Georgia continues to collect documentation about the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic around the region, and this will be the basis of our community discussions. Dr. Lisa Gezon (Department of Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology) and Deirdre Haywood-Rouse, M.S. (Department of Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology) began collecting data and stories on this topic in the summer of 2020 for their IRB-approved project entitled COVID-19 Responses. They have already received IRB approval for doing interviews and created an online questionnaire for Phase I (May through August 2020) data collection.

In 2021, with the support of the Community Foundation of West Georgia and in collaboration with Dr. Ann McCleary (Department of Art, History, and Philosophy and the Center for Public History) and Keri Adams, M.A. (Department of Art, History, and Philosophy and the Center for Public History), the Hopes & Challenges Project Team will conduct a follow-up Phase II (interviews with respondents at least six months after their initial questionnaire/interview) collection and data analysis. Gezon and Haywood-Rouse’s goal is to capture diverse lived experiences and the cultural interpretations that surround this new pandemic phenomenon through verbal responses in both Spanish and English, and in photographs. Please see the survey at this link: https://westga.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_01ktHCxoKnSu8jr. Over 120 individuals had completed the questionnaire by end of 2020 , which will provide a starting point for developing questions for the interviews and community conversations. In spring 2020, the Center for Public History began collecting and archiving materials about the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the Center’s mission to document, interpret, and share the history of the west Georgia region, which will contribute to this project as well.

Project Goals

During Phase II, the collaborative team expanded its project and undertook five major initiatives during spring 2021 with the support of the Community Foundation of West Georgia:

  1. Collect stories;
  2. Initiate the collection of objects and images;
  3. Create this webpage;
  4. Share the website with the community; and
  5. Summary report describing our work.

We have already identified several partners for our project in which we hope to engage during our project period. The West Georgia Regional Library System, Carroll County NAACP, Latinos United of Carroll County, and the League of Women Voters-Carrollton Carroll County. These organizations will help us connect to those who might have experienced greater hardship through the pandemic.

We identified several partners for our project in which we hope to engage during our project period. The West Georgia Regional Library System, Carroll County NAACP, Latinos United of Carroll County, and the League of Women Voters-Carrollton Carroll County. We hope that t hese organizations will help us connect to those who might have experienced greater hardship through the pandemic.

The Project Team

During the second phase of this project, the Hopes & Challenges project team collaborated with other faculty and students to form the UWG COVID-19 Research Collective.

The collective team includes:

Former student contributors include:

Our Accomplishments

Apart from collecting data and stories from our regional community, the Hopes & Challenges team, along with our Collective partners and contributors, participated in the UWG Undergraduate Research Conference, the SPARC research conference by the UWG Psycology Program, and hosted our own UWG COVID-19 Research Collective Colloqium in spring 2021.