In the Introduction to Urban Community Health courses she taught during the Spring II and Fall I 2020 semesters, Associate Professor of Anthropology Dr. Kristina Baines’ students interacted with the Pandemic Journaling Project (PJP) – a public research initiative developed at Brown University and the University of Connecticut, which invites participants to respond to weekly prompts about their experiences living through the pandemic. Students could either create journal entries (written, audio or visual methods) or reflect on the journal entries that others posted on the public section of the site. The aim of Dr. Baines’ assignment is to involve students in documenting the COVID-19 pandemic through the eyes of everyday people rather than official narratives. In their responses, students were able to consider their contributions to this alternative history on personal and scholarly levels. Overall, Dr. Baines’ students have welcomed this space to share their thoughts and feelings about the impact of the pandemic on their lives.
Dr. Baines and Guttman students Rashwan Cyrus and Chelsea Gonzalez were subsequently interviewed by The New York Times about their participation in the PJP. Through “contributing regularly to the platform,” Ms. Gonzalez first used it “to release[e] my thoughts” about the loss of five family members to COVID-19. She later began “helping a classmate manage her grief.” Mr. Cyrus was one of “many diarists” with “no previous diagnosis” of mental health issues who “noticed symptoms” while actively engaged with the PJP for class.
The assignment’s success has led to Dr. Baines discussing it with host Will Lucas on A Partial Perspective; having both the assignment and the video clip from the podcast posted as a sample on the PJP’s Educator Resources page; and being asked to serve on the PJP’s Advisory Board. Additionally, Dr. Baines has been invited to consult on “Disrupted Dreams: Understanding the Impact of Covid-19 on the Life Projects of First-Generation College Students and their Parents,” a 2021 National Science Foundation seed grant led by PJP co-founders and Principal Investigator Dr. Katherine Mason and Co-PI Dr. Sarah Willen, in addition to Co-PI Dr. Andrea Flores. The proposed inquiry “will use a mixture of online journaling, semi-structured interviews, focus groups and the curation of an online photo exhibition to… examine the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the entwined life projects of first-generation college students and their parents.”
Dr. Baines is an applied sociocultural anthropologist with interests at the intersection of health and embodied ecological practices. She works with indigenous and immigrant communities, primarily in Belize and New York City. She also has a strong interest in innovative technologies and means of research dissemination. Dr. Baines holds a Ph.D. in Applied Anthropology from the University of South Florida; an M.Sc. in Medical Anthropology from the University of Oxford; an M.A. in Social Anthropology, Biology Cognate from Florida Atlantic University; and a B.A. in Anthropology from Florida Atlantic University. She has taught at Guttman since 2014, also serving as Area Coordinator of Academic Technology.