2020-2021 COMPAS Program: COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a level of economic, political, and social disruption that is unprecedented in recent memory. CEHV's 2020-2021 COMPAS program will address a wide range of fundamental ethical and political challenges that are raised by this public health crisis.

The COVID COMPAS will focus in particular on three broad areas of concern:

Health care. How should we balance public health concerns against concerns about liberty and privacy? How should we ration scarce medical resources? What has the current crisis taught us about inequalities of access and affordability in the American health care system?

The economy. How much is a life worth? How should we ration risk? How should we balance the value of public health against other important values? What has the current crisis taught us about the strengths and vulnerabilities of an interdependent global economy?

Democracy. What is the proper role of expertise and emergency powers in a democracy? How has the pandemic impacted voting and voting rights? What has the current crisis taught us about the relative merits of federal vs. centralized systems of government, or of authoritarian vs. democratic regimes?

More generally, the COVID-19 pandemic has given all of us a chance to reflect on how we live our lives and what kind of world we want to live in. The COVID COMPAS will also explore these broader issues.

In keeping with current restrictions on public gatherings, all COMPAS events for fall 2020 (at least) will be held online via Zoom.

In keeping with the COMPAS program’s mission of promoting informal and civil discussion of controversial public issues, all events will feature a variety of perspectives on the issues at stake.


COMPAS Webinars


  • September 4, 2020

Lockdowns, Masks, and Social Distancing: The Politics of Public Health


  • September 18, 2020

Testing, Quarantines, and Contact Tracing: Privacy in a Pandemic


  • October 2, 2020     

Who Gets Sick? Who Gets Care? Inequalities in COVID Outcomes


  • October 16, 2020   

Who’s Watching the Kids? School and Family in the Age of Zoom


  • October 30, 2020   

Who Voted for Dr. Fauci? Democracy and Expertise


  • November 13, 2020   

Can the Governor Really Do That? Democracy and Emergency Powers