COVID-19 Webinar Week: Schar School Professors Discuss Possible Ways Out of the Lockdown

More than 80 viewers tuned in to the first program in a week of six Schar School webinars called “Understanding and Surviving a Pandemic.” Each program deals with different aspects of the coronavirus crisis. The debut program, “Exit Strategies from a Pandemic,” featured Schar School Professor and Economist Maurice D. Kugler and Professor and Neurobiologist James Olds.

Kugler is the former head of research for the United Nation’s flagship Human Development Report; Olds is the former director of biological sciences at the National Science Foundation. Their hour-long conversation, followed by questions from viewers, detailed the various exit strategies that have been considered in safely bringing the public and the economy out of what Kugler characterized as a “devastating global quagmire.”

After Kugler gave an analysis of economic devastation and signs, mild as they are, of recovery in some nations, Olds—who has published two studies examining COVID-19 and nicotine exposure— tackled the issues facing six proposed scenarios to return the world’s societies back to something resembling normal.

The program is available for viewing at this site.


Here is the schedule for the rest of the week’s coronavirus webinars:

Tuesday, April 28, noon-1 p.m.:
Infection Control and Surge Capacity in Hospitals and Health Systems in a Pandemic

Though the possibility of a pandemic has been known to public health officials for decades, yet health systems and hospitals have been caught short in having supplies and protocols in place. How is the medical establishment addressing critical issues such as infection control, protecting healthcare workers and the public, community spread, and hospital surge capacity. And how are hospitals faring with regard to shortages of tests and medical equipment? 

Bonnie Stabile, Schar School Associate Professor and Editor of World Medical & Health Policy


  • U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.)
  • Laurie Schintler, Schar School Associate Professor, Director of the Transportation, Policy, Operations, and Logistics Master’s Degree Program
  • Saskia Popescu, Schar School Biodefense PhD Alumna, Infectious Disease Specialist and Infection Preventionist

Register to participate on Zoom


Wednesday, April 29, noon-1 p.m.:
Congress and the Postal Service in a Pandemic

The Postal Service delivers stimulus checks, prescription drugs, medical supplies, the 2020 Census and, come November, mail-in ballots. Listen in as current and former members of Congress discuss the role of Congress in determining the future of the U.S. Postal Service. 

Mark J. Rozell, Dean, Schar School of Policy and Government


  • Tom Davis, former U.S. Representative (R-Va.; 1994-2008) and Rector of George Mason University
  • U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Congressman Connolly is a senior member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and serves as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations. In this role, he is responsible for shaping government-wide policy for a broad range of issues, including the United States Postal Service.
  • John M. McHugh, former U.S. Representative (R-NY), was chairman of the Oversight Committee's Postal Service Subcommittee for six years, and worked to pass legislation to significantly reform the U.S. Postal Service for the first time since it was demoted from a Cabinet-rank department with passage of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (Pub.L. 109–435) in 2006.

Register for the Zoom session


Wednesday, April 29, 3 p.m.-4 p.m.:
Stimulating an Economy in a Pandemic

Steven Pearlstein, Robinson Professor of Public Affairs in the Schar School, won a Pulitzer Prize for his Washington Post columns anticipating and explaining the country’s 2008 financial collapse. Mason Economics Professor and Bloomberg columnist Tyler Cowen is the author of one of the country’s most popular economics blogs, Marginal Revolution. Join them in a conversation that explores the depth of the coronavirus crisis, the lasting ramifications, and possible solutions for repairing the inevitable damage.


  • Steven Pearlstein, Robinson Professor of Public Affairs at George mason University and Washington Post Columnist
  • Tyler Cowen, Economics Professor and Chairman and Faculty Director of the Mercatus Center, Mason’s market-oriented research center

Register for the Webex program.


Thursday, April 30, noon-1 p.m.:
National Intelligence and International Security Amid a Pandemic 

Gathering intelligence is difficult in the best of times, but how do the country’s intelligence agencies operate during a global lockdown? How will the jobs of intelligence professionals change after the crisis? Join a conversation between two longtime intelligence leaders as they examine the state of intelligence during a pandemic.

Laurence Pfeiffer, Director, Hayden Center


  • Michael Morell, Schar School Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security, former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the CIA
  • Glenn Gerstell, former General Counsel of the National Security Agency

Register for the Webex session.


Friday, May 1, noon-1p.m.:
Crisis and Power-Grabbing: Government Expansion of Power During the Pandemic

National leaders in the U.S. and elsewhere are exploiting the coronavirus lockdown to their own benefit. The “elites” are expanding their power over citizens, siphoning money, and creating social discord that may undermine efforts to recover from the crisis. Corruption has never had it so good.

Bassam Haddad, Schar School Associate Professor and Director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Program 


  • Janine Wedel, Schar School Professor of International Commerce and Policy and Author of Shadow Elite
  • Jennifer Victor, Schar School Associate Professor of Political Science and an Expert in Social Network Analysis

Register for the Zoom program