COVID-19: an opportunity in disguise?

Ed Urunsak, Senior Study Abroad & Exchange Advisor, takes a step back to look at the positives of the pandemic. 

This article is part of our new series, Regent's Review: thoughts, research and academic discussion on the rapidly unfolding pandemic.


  • COVID-19 might be the final strain on society's seams, but it forces us to adapt and reconsider what's important. 
  • It offers a long-term opportunity for us to adapt, and underscores our responsibility to develop tomorrow’s global leaders.

COVID-19: an opportunity in disguise?

Good stuff can come out of crises.

Crises that have dominated media and minds lately hardly need listing, but here they are anyway: divisions over Brexit and the perceived gulf between global and local; the rise of populism with its binary political discourse; climate change and the toll on our societies and environment and, of course, the global health (and ensuing economic) crisis that is being called the greatest since WW2.

We’d rather these issues didn’t exist, but they do. And so the question should be: how can we adapt and make the most out of the evolving world we find ourselves in?

We can interpret Brexit as a cry from the public to hold on to what is familiar. So should we work harder to recognise the value of the unique local, alongside the shared global?

A strong factor in the appeal of populism is its simple, direct and digestible messages. Can we claim this approach for better, saying things as they are and ditching unnecessary complexity?

Can the ravaging of our planet be a lasting catalyst for an authentic awareness of its fragility?

Could the COVID-19 pandemic be the latest strain on the seams of society that have stretched so much already that we're forced to rethink how we work, learn, teach and live, and how engage with our societies and the world?

If the fallout of the pandemic sees a shift in priorities to focus even more on sustainable global growth, wellbeing and common human-centric goals, then we should strive to connect on this level with the one out of two billion members of generation-Z who will seek a university education.

This pandemic offers a long-term opportunity for us to adapt what and how we teach, and underscores our responsibility to develop tomorrow’s global leaders, who are able to engage in a world with potentially reshuffled priorities.