Discussion of environmental impacts of COVID-19 offered online by MSU’s humanities institute

David Hoffman smiles for the camera while standing near a rail with trees, mountains and a body of water in the distance.
David Hoffman (Photo submitted)

Contact: John Burrow

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State University faculty member specializing in environmental anthropology and conservation politics will offer insight into the environmental impacts of COVID-19 in a virtual format open for pubic interaction.

David M. Hoffman, associate professor in MSU’s Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, will present “Is the Pandemic Good for the Environment” on May 7 at 2 p.m. on the university’s Institute for the Humanities Facebook page.

In an interview with Julia Osman, director of the Institute for the Humanities and professor of history, Hoffman will share his thoughts on the pandemic’s “massive and overnight shift of the political economic landscape” and the impacts the pandemic has—and will continue to have—on the environment.

Osman said she hopes the discussion will help participants understand lessons to be learned through the pandemic.

“I am really looking forward to interviewing Dr. Hoffman,” Osman said. “I’ve seen quick and slick memes on Facebook about how ‘Mother Earth’ just ‘needed a day off from her kids’—but I’d love for Dr. Hoffman to explain what that means—what specifically is improving and why.”

“So far, the pandemic makes it exceedingly clear that the political and economic systems that undergird our daily lives have vulnerabilities that threaten the status quo, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your point of view,” Hoffman said. “The pandemic and this fragility is making many people rethink what is important. Society, people and the natural world are dependent upon one another and this break from our ‘hecticness’ is perhaps helping people realize what is necessary versus unnecessary. The question remains as to whether we will learn these lessons or try to return to the way things were.”

Hoffman’s research in environmental anthropology focuses on sustainable development, resource management, biodiversity conservation, and the interaction of parks and protected areas with the development of adjacent human communities.

He is the graduate coordinator for the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures and serves as adviser for MSU’s Fulbright Program, Boren Scholarship, and Critical Language Scholarships within the Shackouls Honors College Office of Prestigious External Scholarships.

Hoffman earned his Ph.D. and master’s degrees in cultural anthropology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and his bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and anthropology from St. Lawrence University.

As part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Institute for the Humanities promotes research, scholarship and creative performances in the humanistic disciplines and raises their visibility, both within Mississippi State University and the wider community. The Institute is active on social media on Instagram @msststehumanities, Twitter @Humanities_MSU and Facebook @msu.humanities.institute.

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,200 students, 325 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs, 14 masters programs, and 27 undergraduate academic majors offered in 14 departments. It also is home to the most diverse units for research and scholarly activities, including natural and physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities. For more about the College of Arts and Sciences or the Institute for the Humanities, visit www.cas.msstate.edu or www.ih.msstate.edu.  

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.