Skip to main content

IHSS Working Group

The IHSS Working Group on COVID-19 is an interdisciplinary group focused on examining the response to COVID-19 through the lens of trust. Drawing on different disciplinary backgrounds the group has been meeting since summer 2019 to share thoughts and compile a dossier on the politics of trust in the age of Covid.

Trust is perhaps the central binding element connecting the wider range of themes, be it ethics, scientific policy, diversity, inequalities, or social cohesion, raised by COVID-19. In order to explore the numerous issues of trust that Covid raises, the group plans a series of activities and a half-day event, to be hosted at the IHSS in May 2020.

The IHSS Working Group on COVID-19 is led by Prof. Valsamis Mitsilegas (School of Law) and is comprised of the following staff: Prof. Tim Brown (School of Geograpy), Dr Sydney Calkin (School of Geography), Dr Sophie Harman (SPIR), Prof. David McCoy (
School of Medicine and Dentistry), Dr Aoife Monks (School of English and Drama), Dr Mario Slugan (School of Languages, Linguistics and Film), Dr Sarah Wolff (School of Politics and International Relations).


In due course all publications and events arising from this work will be published here. A first, related, piece on the cultural politics of COVID-19 – co-authored by members Pof. Tim Brown, Dr Sydney Calkin and Prof. Simon Reid-Henry (along with Dr Kerry Holden (School of Geography) and  Dr Stephen Taylor (School of Geography)) – is forthcoming:

Brown, T., Calkin, S., Holden, K., Reid-Henry, S., & Taylor, S. (2021) “How to Have Theory in an Epidemic: A critical reflecton on the discourses of COVID-19”, forthcoming in  Gavin Andrews, Valorie Crooks, Jamie Pearce & Janey Messina (eds) COVID-19 and Similar Futures: Pandemic Geographies (Springer)


The Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines bring important insights to bear upon the multi-faceted and socially complex nature of the Covid-19 response. While the media have focused on a largely quantitative story of numbers intermingled with public anxieties, and while the narrative has been one of the unprecedented novelty of COVID-19, there are also ways that COVID-19 reinforces certain existing social trends: such as issues of social inclusion/exclusion. Likewise, there is more that needs to be unearthed about the ways in which science and policy have converged to shape the political response and public fallout alike: including the impact upon arts and cultural sectors. By focusing on these underlying dynamics of the response, the IHSS COVID-19 Working Group will provide a timely and policy-relevant critique, which can help ensure the country is better prepared in the future, and that we better understand the ways in which COVID-19 will shape British society going forward.