Problem Statement

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has profoundly affected the world. Efforts to slow the pandemic resulted in implementation of policies requiring the practice of physical distancing worldwide. These restrictions caused an unprecedented change in daily life including social, school, and work interactions. Additionally, we have implemented many health and safety measures such as masking, increased hand washing, increased use of sanitizing materials, and replacing in-person meetings requiring substantial travel with virtual meetings. Although these changes may seem cumbersome, they also introduce a wide array of new solutions to problems that we once faced (i.e., spread of viruses such as the flu, air pollution with travel, novel technologies for vaccines) and introduce opportunities such as increased support for telecommuting and remote access to services.

This year’s Young Scholars will explore questions such as:

  • What have been some of the positive changes that have come from the pandemic?
  • What are some changes that we should continue to implement in our daily lives after the pandemic?
  • Do the benefits of physical distancing outweigh the mental health risks?
  • How can we use what we have learned from the pandemic to improve the world and our interactions into the future

Your Challenge

You will consider ways in which society can benefit from the changes that have occurred since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working together with Clarkson University professors, you and other students will explore how society has changed since the start of the pandemic and the pros and cons of these changes.  You will consider the benefits of these changes as well as identify ways you could have possible unintended consequences. You will consider past scientific advances and current literature to grapple with the considerations of these changes.  You will debate guidelines for uses that you think can capture the benefits and mitigate the problems.

From your research, you will:

  • Identify COVID-19 facts (e.g., timeline, rate of infections and deaths) and the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.
  • Consider the impact of social and physical isolation on people’s psychological well-being.
  • Examine the impact of sedentary behavior on sleep quality and health/well-being.
  • Investigate the short and long-term economic impact including (but not limited to) career planning.
  • Investigate the impact of shifts to virtual meetings such as online education, virtual medical or counseling appointments, and others.
  • Identify unintended consequences that could arise from new challenges and solutions stemming from the pandemic.

Expected Outcomes

Participants in the project will be expected to be able to:

  • Identify opportunities and challenges that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Consider the economic and social impact of misinformation about COVID-19.
  • Identify ways to support people’s work and family obligations when working and/or attending school from home.
  • Propose new ways to support people’s psychological well-being during times of physical and social isolation.
  • Propose new ways to support people’s physical well-being with consideration to increased levels of inactivity.
  • Consider how the world may operate differently in response to challenges and new policies that might result from the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the end of the week, Young Scholars students will present their proposals to guest panelists. Students who successfully complete the program and meet the admission requirements will receive a $4,000 scholarship ($1,000 per year) toward tuition if they attend The Clarkson School or Clarkson University full time for their undergraduate education. Please note that $1,000 per year is the maximum scholarship amount a student can receive for attending Clarkson University summer programs, no matter how many programs he or she attends.

To download the application and for further information, please visit the Young Scholars main page.