COVID-19 Special Grants Initiative


Announcing the COVID-19 Special Grants Initiative

In light of critical needs presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Global Arts + Humanities is pleased to announce the recipients of the COVID-19 Special Grants Initiative. This initiative builds on the enthusiastic response to the Office of Research’s COVID-19 Seed Funding Program by targeting projects that showcase the distinctive affordances of the arts and humanities in addressing this global crisis. The current pandemic is a stark reminder that innovative and compassionate responses are essential to address the wide range of consequences for individuals, communities and nations and to craft sustainable responses. Collectively, we hope to chart new ways to address pandemic-revealed disparities and pandemic-related research that reveals that neither crisis nor remedy exist without culture.

Grant Awardees


Project Description: This project examines the impact of COVID-19 and quarantine experiences on artistic and cultural production and reception by examining historical precedents, situating audiences within their cultural and political milieu, and imagining possible futures based on how audiences are currently forming. Collaborators will deepen contextual understanding of the artistic and humanistic dimensions of the pandemic by forging interdisciplinary, intellectual communities and innovating mechanisms for developing and sharing research under current constraints. In so doing, collaborators will foster long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships that support the work of artists and scholars who are struggling in the current state of emergency.

Principal Investigators: Harmony Bench (Dance), Yana Hashamova (Slavic), Hannah Kosstrin (Dance), Danielle Schoon (Near Eastern Languages and Cultures)


Project Description: This project is a Center for Folklore Studies (CFS) 12-part monthly podcast series. Each episode will feature two individuals – one from Ohio and one from a different part of the world – who share a distinct arts- and/or humanities-related professional or personal identity. Created and hosted by BBC-trained radio producer and broadcaster Rachel Hopkin PhD, the contributors will discuss and compare how their parallel involvements in the arts and humanities have informed their experience of life during the Coronavirus pandemic in their respective homes. The series will be distributed as widely as possible including via the CFS’s podcast stream and local radio stations around Ohio.

Principal Investigator: Katherine Borland (Comparative Studies, Center for Folklore Studies)

Collaborators: Cassie Patterson (Center for Folklore Studies), Rachel Hopkin (Independent radio producer and folklorist), Paul Kotheimer (ASC Tech), Amy Shuman (English), David Staley (Humanities Institute, Center for the Humanities in Practice), Nick Spitulski (Humanities Institute), Luke Dennis (WYSO: the NPR affiliate station for the Greater Dayton area), Cristina Benedetti (Independent Folklorist, Ohio Arts Council), Patricia Williamsen (Ohio Humanities), David Merkowitz (Ohio Humanities), Robert Colby (Ohio Humanities)


Project Description: This project is designed for a group of dance art makers at The Ohio State University to partner virtually with dance art making students from The University of Cape Town in South Africa to create dance art in response to the COVID-19 global crisis. Both groups are diverse, with enrolled students from various parts of both countries, representing myriad life experiences. Together, they will engage, commune, learn and create a computer dance art project to be widely shared with the goal to transform their dance to a live dance performance once we can travel and meet in person.

Principal Investigators: Nadine George Graves (Dance), Nya McCarthy Brown (Dance)

Collaborators: Lane Czaplinski (Wexner Center for the Arts)

External Collaborators: Gerard Samuel (University of Cape Town)


Project Description: In order to develop a post-pandemic approach to bringing students back to their campus community, it is important to study the individual journey of students from a diverse perspectives (majors/colleges/years/backgrounds, physical abilities). Through this, project collaborators will seek to understand the ways in which place and people interact, identifying the human, physical, and digital touchpoints along their journey, how COVID-19 has interrupted and put up roadblocks to that journey, and what solutions could be proposed to allow students to feel safe returning to their campus community. The proposed workshop and design sprint will include three activities (student survey, journey narrative exercises, and participatory design workshop) and the outcomes of these will be shared out with committees as they are completed.

Principal Investigators: Rebekah Matheny (Design), Stephanie Orr (Office of Distance Education and eLearning)


Project Description: This project will see the creation an online library of innovative public health measures amplifying arts and humanities methods and practices to serve the public good and health needs of populations during the pandemic. The project proposes to source illustrative instances and exemplars of innovative solutions that address social and behavioral challenges involved in the COVID-19 pandemic, enter thick descriptions of these into a database, then analyze them to support informed development of further initiatives and public dissemination. With a mindset toward action during this rapidly evolving health crisis, the project will start as a monitoring of initiatives and will develop as the project progresses and the trajectory of the pandemic progress.

Principal Investigators: Sébastien Proulx (Design, DESIS Lab), Susan Melsop (Design, DESIS Lab), Rebekah Matheny (Design), Will Nickley (Design), Hazal Gumus-Ciftci (Design), Adam Fromme (College Nursing)

External Collaborators: Alessandra Bazzano (Tulane University), Laura Murphy (Tulane University)


Project Description: As a publicly engaged project, Documenting of Latinas/os/x in Ohio stories during COVID-19 through performed storytelling seeks to collect oral histories of Latinas/os/x during COVID-19 in Ohio and to make them available to the public on a digital platform. In addition, stories will be performed live (or virtually), in order to model best practices for transformational community engagement through storytelling. The video recorded performances will be shown to students enrolled in coursework for the health professions to help future health care providers develop both a sense of cultural humility in working with Latinx patients and an understanding of health disparities for Latinx populations.

Principal Investigators: Glenn Martinez (Spanish and Portuguese), Elena Foulis (Spanish and Portuguese, Center for Latin American Studies, Center for Ethnic Studies, Center for Folklore Studies), Palo Pinillos Chávez (Spanish and Portuguese), Elizabeth Fitzgerald (College of Nursing, Michael V. Institute for Teaching and Learning, Center for Ethics and Human Values, Center for Latin American Studies), Tatiana Friedman (Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures), Micah Unzueta (undergraduate student)


Project Description: This cross-disciplinary project mobilizes the strengths and support of the GAHDT, OSU’s College of Medicine, and the Department of English’s MA in Medical Humanities to capture how human dignity is practiced — especially during global health crises. To do this, collaborators will collect and analyze first-person narratives from medical professionals who provide frontline care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results from the study will help to suss out some of the creative ways medical professionals provide dignified patient care despite ongoing health inequities and a critical shortage of human and nonhuman resources. After documenting localized, quotidian tactics for enacting human dignity, collaborators hope to scale analyses such that they help to improve both patient care and medical education curricula.

Principal Investigators: Christa Teston (English), Melissa Guadrón (graduate student, English); Graduate Association of Mental Health Action and Advocacy)

Collaborators: Ohio State College of Medicine/Medical Humanities Program


Project Description: This project explores the response of the Mardi Gras Indians, participants in a Black parading tradition in New Orleans, to the threats that the Coronavirus pandemic poses to this rich cultural practice. Since its origins in the nineteenth century, the parading tradition has been a creative, dynamic response to economic and social oppression built on a foundation of artistic and cultural African survivalisms. The pandemic, like the Hurricane Katrina floods, has disproportionately devastated the black community because of structural inequality, while limits on group gatherings cut to the heart of a practice that culminates in neighborhood parades that celebrate artistry and community. This project will capture the ongoing efforts of these culture-bearers to maintain this crucial tradition as well as the mutual aid work of its female practitioners, the Queens.

Principal Investigators: Virginia Cope (English-Newark), Tiyi Morris (African and African American Studies)


Project Description: Collaborators will develop survey questions to be included on the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) survey in spring of 2022 that will speak to COVID-related impacts on employment, creative practice, and resilience among artists, thus expanding what we know about the impact of COVID-19 on the art world. They will interview artists, arts practitioners and higher education arts leaders, consult scholarly literature, assess emerging policy and grey literature, and compare ideas to those captured in other alumni and higher education surveys about the impacts of COVID-19. These insights will be used to develop survey questions, conduct cognitive testing, and revise survey questions after fielding comments from the arts community.

Principal Investigators: Rachel Skaggs (Arts Administration, Education and Policy), Elizabeth Cooksey (Sociology, CHRR, Institute for Population Research)


Project Description: The creative work of artists during times of crises have served as testaments to individual and shared interpretations of reality. Covid 19 and social distancing have isolated and muted musicians and other performing artists by destroying the common spaces they have used and shared for centuries. The proposal addresses the communal experience during the Covid 19 crisis from the viewpoint of the artist focusing on new methods of creating collaborative work, conveying meaning, and engaging the public in ensemble performances. The exploration of new creative methods to be used in reinvented shared rehearsal and performance spaces will be facilitated by the commissioning of new work to be composed for movement and/or music ensembles and that portrays the impact of Covid 19 on individuals, communities, culture, and humanity.

Principal Investigators: Eugenia Costa-Giomi (Music); Nadine George Graves (Dance)

Composers: Jan Radzynski, Thomas Wells

Music Ensemble Conductors: Marc Ainger, Sonic Ensemble; Russel Mikkelson; Wind Symphony: Jordan Saul, Women’s Glee Choir; Robert Ward, Men’s Glee Choir; Michelle Wibbelsman (Spanish and Portuguese); Andean Ensemble

Dance Composers and Studio Instructors: Eddie Taketa, Contemporary Movement Practices and Composition; Crystal Michelle Perkins, Africanist Foundations; Daniel Roberts, Contemporary Movement Practice and Composition; Susan Van Pelt Petry, composition and improvisation; Mitchell Rose, Dance Film.

Ohio State Virtual Gallery: Michael Mercil (Art)


Project Description: This project will produce a series of virtual town halls titled “The Ohio State Pandemic Series” led by national and international thought-leaders who will address the current COVID-19 pandemic and global health crises more broadly through the role of the arts and humanities. These thought-leaders have expertise in some of humanity’s worst health crises, ranging from racism as a global health emergency to Black Death, HIV, and the COVID-19 pandemic, and all utilize the arts and humanities to frame an intervention, solution or greater understanding of the emergency. The pandemic series will span the academic year 2020-2021, with one speaker per month, culminating in two capstone events: 1) A nationally broadcast panel discussion (The Pandemic Series Retrospective) between the invited speakers on the role arts and humanities play in health emergencies in which traditional approaches have been stretched beyond their capacities and 2) A virtual summit (The Ohio Summit on Medical and Pre-Medical Education) for regional collaborators on how to change the current educational infrastructure in Ohio to foster more socially and intellectually diverse and resilient student populations in medical and health-science professional schools.

Principal Investigators: Diane Brogan-Habash (College of Medicine, Center for Integrative Medicine), Julia Nelson Hawkins (Classics), Tracie McCambridge (College of Medicine), Jennifer Olejownik (College of Medicine, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services), Elizabeth Weinstock (EquitasHealth, Columbus Veteran’s Administration, Franklin Correctional Center)


Project Description: Pandemic Pedagogies is multidisciplinary faculty collaborative. The project will work across the arts, humanities, and sciences to create a set of pedagogical tools that will inform and inspire students with questions about belonging, empathy, ethics, and stigma that are vital to understanding the social impacts of pandemics past, present and future. They will create a set of nested games/simulations to be used in high-school and college classrooms. These activities will look intently at pandemics in their bodily, historical, scientific, spatial, and moral dimensions.

Principal Investigators: PI: Thomas McDow (History), Co-PI and Project Coordinator: Jim Harris (History)

Collaborators: Dana Howard (Center of Bioethics (COM), Philosophy), Jesse Kwiek (Microbiology), Susan Van Pelt Petry (Dance)


Project Description: This project represents a unique collaboration between five poets and environmental scientists creating writing related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Four Ohio poets and one from out of state will start discussions with scientists working in areas relevant to environmental concerns significant to this time of crisis. Writers will also reach out to different local Ohio communities through workshops on how to use writing to process the current crisis. The culmination of the project will be two panels featuring the scientists and poets discussing the outcomes of the project, and the writing will be published in a special issue of the international journal Magma Poetry. Bringing together creative and scholarly approaches, this project asks scientists and creative writers to work together to answer key questions related to the current pandemic: What does science tell us about the current crisis? How can we find new ethical ways of being, a world beyond this crisis? The findings will be published in a special issue of international journal Magma Poetry.

Principal Investigator: Zoe Brigley Thompson (English)

Collaborators: Kerry Ard (School of Environment and Natural Resources)

External Collaborators: Ruth Awad (Columbus Poet) and others forthcoming


Project Description: As language, by itself and as an embodiment of culture, is a powerful symbolic system that people use to design, create and control discourses, linguistic, sociolinguistic and sociocultural investigations of political discourses should belong at the core of our understanding of the humanistic impact of the on-going COVID-19 crisis. In this project, collaborators take a multi-disciplinary approach to interpret American and Chinese political discourses about COVID-19, and explore how political language use and rhetorical framing during COVID-19 shape individual and collective experiences and perspectives in the context of international education. We intend our study to contribute to the understanding of how participants of international education comprehend and cope with COVID-related political discourses in both their home and host countries, which may be at odds with each other at times.

Principal Investigators: PI: Zhiguo Xie (East Asian Languages and Literature), Co-PI: Cindy Xinquan Jiang (Office of International Affairs)


Project Description: The Quarantine Cookbook is a collection of critical and creative pieces addressing the intersection of migration and food during this time of crisis. Contributions will come from writers, chefs, restaurateurs and artists, as well as home cooks and local immigrant families in Columbus, Ohio, and around the country. Each essay will be accompanied by a recipe that has been important to the author during the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaborators will also build a companion website to The Quarantine Cookbook, where members of the public will be invited to submit their stories and recipes from the quarantine period. This site will include a dedicated page for The Ohio State University community, which will serve as a living archive of the experiences of students, faculty and staff in isolation during the crisis.

Principal Investigators: Philip Gleissner (Slavic), Harry Kashdan (French and Italian)


Project Description: The Recovery Project will build a community-engaged archive of pandemic testimonies and make an immediate contribution for our collective mental health and critical well-being. Using rhetorical, discourse and narrative analysis, this project will use a combination of targeted interactive surveying, crowdsourcing via social media and correspondence, and scholarly analysis so that the energy and knowledge of thousands of people can be gathered — but also easily sifted through and used. The project will thus create a focused, scalable archive where information can be parsed and mental-health support shared. In its digital space, this project will provide a template to immediately address the mental-health needs and wellness of frontline workers, and also present a flexible best-practices model, global in scope, for understanding the role of media and social testimonies amidst a pandemic.

Principal Investigators: Amrita Dhar (English, Newark Campus), Sona Kazemi-Hill (GAHDT Postdoctoral Researcher, Disability Studies), Margaret Price (English)

Collaborators: Amy Shuman (English), Teri Murphy (Mershon Center), Lucille Toth (French and Dance), Hemachandran Karah (IIT-Madras, Social Sciences and Humanities)


Project Description: In the absence of pharmacologic and preventive measures for Covid-19, what the healthcare system is able to offer patients at high risk for Covid-19 complications is management of chronic disease; yet, patients with complex chronic disease (multiple co-morbid diseases or hard-to-control disease) are more likely than healthy patients to have barriers to care adherence. Using methodological and theoretical approaches from sociolinguistics and academic medicine, this study aims to identify patient reported barriers to care adherence and the different ways that healthcare providers can encourage (or, conversely, thwart) discussion of those barriers during clinical encounters. There is little data from patients’ perspectives on their barriers, thus, in order to develop recommendations that may lead to improved care adherence, a detailed understanding of what those barriers are, especially from the patient perspective, is necessary. Barriers themselves and discussions about them are present in clinical encounters making it a rich site for revealing these problems and improving patients’ care adherence.

Principal Investigators: Gabriella Modan (English), Seuli Bose Brill (College of Medicine), Nathan Richards (graduate student, English)


Project Description: This project proposes the creation of a Virtual Field Lab, which mirrors the real‐life situations that social work students find themselves in during field experiences. Using arts-based research and development methods, VR simulations will be created to push the embodied experiences of field education into remotely delivered distance learning opportunities that address the needs of foundational curriculum content to first‐year Master of Social Work students. The Virtual Field Lab will provide realistic active learning opportunities for knowledge‐building and perspective‐taking and development and application of concrete social work practice skills.

Principal Investigators: Maria Palazzi (Design, ACCAD), Lauren McInroy (Social Work)

Collaborators: Katie Klakos (CSW), Alex Oliszewski (Theatre, ACCAD), Vita Berezina‐Blackburn (ACCAD), Jeremy Patterson (ACCAD)


Project Description: This project is a collaborative, sonic-based exploration of American religious life in the age of COVID-19. Building on a special initiative of the American Religious Sounds Project, collaborators will gather audio recordings documenting how religious practice is changing during a time of social distancing and church closings. These recordings will be integrated into an existing digital archive. Collaborators also plan to create an interactive digital exhibit based on what we learn, which will be featured on a website and in a sound installation at the Urban Arts Space in summer 2021.

Principal Investigators: Isaac Weiner (Comparative Studies), Lauren Pond (Center for the Study of Religion)

Collaborators: Alison Furlong (Center for the Study of Religion, ASC Tech), Katherine Borland (Comparative Studies, Center for Folklore Studies), Cassie Patterson (Center for Folklore Studies), Merijn van der Heijden (Urban Arts Space), Jeremy Stone (Urban Arts Space)


See Also