For “Covid-19 and the Social Sciences,” Fotini Christia and Chappell Lawson address changes in research and impacts of the pandemic on fieldwork. They trace the shifts in research focus that it has produced and find opportunities in newly broadened methodologies, but warn of the dangers of neglecting non-Covid research and the traditional fieldwork that still remain essential to social science. They further outline ways to support the “Covid-19 cohort”—graduate students whose research has been undermined or transformed by global pandemic—in order to keep from losing an entire generation of fieldwork-based scholars and scholarship.
J. Chappell Lawson
Chappell Lawson is an associate professor of political science at MIT. He directs the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) program and the Policy Lab at MIT’s Center for International Studies. Professor Lawson's recent work has focused on political leadership and on homeland security. From September 2009 through February 2011, Professor Lawson was on leave from MIT as a political appointee in the Obama administration, serving as executive director and senior advisor to the commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection. Before joining the MIT faculty, he served briefly as a director of Inter-American Affairs on the National Security Council staff during the Clinton administration. Professor Lawson was a National Fellow at The Hoover Institution, Stanford University (2002–2003) and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies at the University of California, San Diego (1998–99). He received his PhD from Stanford University in 1999 and his AB from Princeton (the Woodrow Wilson School) in 1989.