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St Andrews staff share their lockdown tales

The highs and lows of life during a pandemic have been shared by staff at the University of St Andrews as part of a project that documents the experience of lockdown in higher education.

The initiative, spearheaded and conducted by members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Young Academy of Scotland (RSE/YAS) at St Andrews, is a compilation of short video stories focusing on the diversity of staff experiences during the Covid-19 lockdown.

In St Andrews Lockdown Tales, staff from across the University of St Andrews community explore, in their own voices and in their own homes, a broad spectrum of experiences during this extraordinary and testing time. The project focuses on this unprecedented human experience by acknowledging the diversity of challenges and how staff at various levels adapted.

The participants include University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sally Mapstone, alongside research, teaching and support staff, who found themselves having to adapt to new technology in order to teach, continue research projects with students, colleagues and collaborators across the globe, as well as keep the normal activities of the University running whilst working at home.

RSE YAS members in the School of Biology at St Andrews, Dr Nathan Bailey, Reader in Evolutionary Biology in the Centre for Biological Diversity, Dr Ellen Garland, Royal Society Research Fellow at the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI), and Dr Tracey Gloster, Reader in the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex, developed and led the project after the idea germinated at a YAS members meeting. The team wanted to capture the voice of the University’s diverse community as an important archive of what we all hope will have been a unique experience. Ashley Pearson, a technician in the School of Biology, soon joined the team and applied his video editing skills to make the project vision a reality.

Nathan Bailey commented: “Being forced to work from, and indeed, stay at home was a sudden and radical change for so many which affected everyone in different ways, depending on their own personal circumstances.

“We wanted to capture the stories of those who experienced this and how they managed to not only cope, but continue to provide a high quality education and how that has led to positive change.”

Interviewees on St Andrews Lockdown Tales describe the challenges of lockdown, such as trying to work from home and take care of a toddler, separating work from home life, having to transition to online teaching and then plan for dual delivery, as well as the positives, from saving money on petrol and the environmental benefit of fewer commutes, to the development of a strong teaching and learning online community, and the sharing of teaching expertise and ideas with colleagues from around the world.


More information about the planning and execution of the project, along with the full recordings of individual interviews, are available on the St Andrews Lockdown Tales website. All the videos are also available in full on YouTube.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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