Viral Imaginations: COVID-19 is an interdisciplinary effort to archive visual art and creative writing by current and former Pennsylvanians of all ages in the time of COVID. It gives Pennsylvanians a creative outlet to share pandemic experiences. In doing so, members of the public have the opportunity to develop community, understanding, and empathy by sheltering in the arts and the humanities. By establishing a creative archive of first-person, lived pandemic experiences across numerous and diverse intersectionalities, Viral Imagination preserves for future study self-representation of experiences from those often overlooked in historic accounts. The project helps instill the value of the arts and the humanities in critically addressing crises (such as pandemics) through the development of critical resources for educators, such as lesson plans. Additionally, Viral Imaginations affords Penn State undergraduates with immersive, hybrid learning opportunities and professional development through hands-on project work. These activities include: digital curation, graphic design, archiving, social media outreach, network building, event planning and management, research support, team coordination, peer education, and data analytics. Finally, Viral Imaginations has attracted significant media and community interest. In doing so, it has contributed to the University’s positive, socially-engaged image and helped make the arts and the humanities publicly accessible and relevant.
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State College, PA, USA