BATON ROUGE – Wesley M. Shrum Jr., professor in the LSU Department of Sociology, was awarded a $100,218 grant from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, to study the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, also known as COVID-19.
The grant, titled “A Comparative Study of How Context Shapes Responses to COVID-19,” will examine the role of exposure and locative fear, or the fear of people and spaces that could cause infection, in the response to the global pandemic of COVID-19.
This study will be the first to address comparative issues in a pandemic across both occupations and countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, as well as to contribute data to the global understanding of the ways cultural and political contexts shape responses to pandemics. Shrum’s research team will interview participants in the United States, Ghana, Kenya, India, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey and China.
“It’s a truly exciting opportunity, because we’re all in the same global boat here,” said Shrum. “We need to understand how different places are responding to this problem.”
These research findings will provide grounded guidance for policy makers and others seeking to understand the diversity of fears, risk perceptions, preparedness, and acceptable action in pandemics.
“Dr. Shrum is an internationally-known scholar with a tremendous amount of experience conducting research across many countries,” said Troy Blanchard, dean of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences. “This study will help answer some of the most important sociological questions about COVID-19, and these findings will be vital in understanding how people receive and respond to information about pandemics.”
Shrum’s area of research expertise is the sociology of science and technology, particularly in the developing world. This study combines techniques and research locations from his previous NSF-funded work during the Ebola and Zika epidemics.
About the LSU Department of Sociology
The LSU Department of Sociology is dedicated to research and teaching, a tradition that has carried on since its inception in 1928. The department serves both undergraduate and graduate students and is making important contributions to LSU’s general education mission. The department is also home to the only Ph.D. program in sociology in the state of Louisiana. Learn more at lsu.edu/sociology.
About the LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences
The LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences positions students, faculty, and staff to be visionary leaders in their respective fields, a tradition of excellence that began with the college’s inception in 1908. For more news and information about the LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences, visit hss.lsu.edu.