The COVID-19 pandemic brought extreme challenges and disruption to higher education, resulting in hurried adoption of online teaching. From the point of view of crisis communication, the COVID-19 pandemic as experienced in HE institutions represents an interesting case, because crisis management and communication were primarily, if not exclusively, directed at internal stake- holders (essentially, students and staff ). We present a case study that compares and contrasts the COVID-related responses of two different universities: the University of Minnesota, in the U.S., and the University of Trieste, in Italy. In particular, we look at the sets of documents issued by the leadership of these universities over a period of 23 months between February 2020 (the start of the health crisis) and December 2021. The analysis of the documents revealed that unexpected spaces of freedom empowered instructors. We identify four discur- sive traits associated with these spaces: definitional change, code glossing, and the use of engagement markers and permissives. However, this empowerment changed over time, as universities became eager to go back to “normal” and reinstate restrictions from pre-pandemic times.

Making Sense of the Response to COVID-19 in Higher Education. A Case Study of Crisis Communication in Two Universities

Giuseppe Palumbo
;
2022-01-01

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic brought extreme challenges and disruption to higher education, resulting in hurried adoption of online teaching. From the point of view of crisis communication, the COVID-19 pandemic as experienced in HE institutions represents an interesting case, because crisis management and communication were primarily, if not exclusively, directed at internal stake- holders (essentially, students and staff ). We present a case study that compares and contrasts the COVID-related responses of two different universities: the University of Minnesota, in the U.S., and the University of Trieste, in Italy. In particular, we look at the sets of documents issued by the leadership of these universities over a period of 23 months between February 2020 (the start of the health crisis) and December 2021. The analysis of the documents revealed that unexpected spaces of freedom empowered instructors. We identify four discur- sive traits associated with these spaces: definitional change, code glossing, and the use of engagement markers and permissives. However, this empowerment changed over time, as universities became eager to go back to “normal” and reinstate restrictions from pre-pandemic times.
2022
Pubblicato
https://doi.org/10.7358/lcm-2022-002-gpad
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3039039
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