Histories of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Field Study opportunity in collaboration with the UC Irvine Libraries
Susan Coutin and Richard Matthew

Throughout history, pandemics have had pervasive and enduring impacts on societies. In terms of its accelerated global reach, and the forceful responses it has triggered, COVID-19 is a novel experience for humankind, one that is causing considerable suffering and remarkable expressions of compassion, and that will likely catalyze many forms of social and behavioral change across the planet.

In the United States, COVID-19 has intersected with multiple forms of inequality and injustice, affecting people in dramatically different ways. It is important to record these diverse experiences, to be inclusive in assembling the historical record of this crisis, and to give future generations as complete an understanding of what happened as possible.

Through this project, students document their own or others’ experiences of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the social justice issues, including anti-Black racism, that are of current public concern. They are trained in oral history and ethnographic techniques. Through writing fieldnotes about daily life, conducting oral history interviews, and collecting documents and images, they have the opportunity to contribute to an archive at the UC Irvine Libraries that records the experiences of the UCI community.

Social Ecology Field Study students can learn more about field site options on the Field Study website.

Explore the Archive

Visit the Pandemic Histories Archive website to view student contributions including photographs, artwork, field diaries, poetry and reflections, and interviews.

Project Leads


Susan Bibler Coutin (Ph.D., Stanford University) is professor in the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society and the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, where she serves as Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the School of Social Ecology.

Faculty Website

Vivianna Goh 2018 square crop

Vivianna Goh is a Social Ecology Ph.D. student at University of California, Irvine, and plans to pursue a career in public policy and urban planning.