On 5 May at 1600 CET, Vibeke Narverud Nyborg, University of South-Eastern Norway and PANSOC, will present Different approaches to Public Health Legislation as means in fighting the influenza pandemic 1918 to 1920.
In the decades prior to the outbreak of the influenza pandemic in 1918, Norway had a significant development and focus on public health, including national health legislation and organizing the administration of public health. These legislations were based on international development of medicine, understanding disease and infection, and preventive measures in addition to national uniqueness. Despite this, disagreement and different local solutions to the major health threat caused by the pandemic seem to characterize the use of national legislation as a driving force in fighting the influenza pandemic in Norway. In this presentation I focus on different approaches to explore and understand how national legislation was used, and within what framework local authorities based their decision in trying to fight the influenza pandemic between 1918 and 1920.
Vibeke Narverud Nyborg is Associate Professor in the History of Medicine and Health at University of South-Eastern Norway (USN). Since August 2021, she has been Associate Professor II at PANSOC, working with historical pandemics, focusing specifically on the 1918 flu and national legislation. She has a PhD from USN from 2020 where she focused on conceptual meaning making in historical education of doctors and nurses. For further information, please see her profile on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vibeke-narverud-nyborg-33b04183/
Watch Jord Hanus (University of Antwerp) present “Socioeconomic Status and Epidemic Mortality in an Urban Environment (Mechelen, Belgium): Were Dysentery (1794) and Cholera (1866) Socially Neutral Diseases?” here:
In week 20 (16-19 May), PANSOC will host Kaspar Staub | LinkedIn (Dr. PhD and head of Institute of evolutionary medicine, University of Zürich) as a guest researcher. We will discuss ongoing and future research collaborations, and Dr. Staub will among other things, also give a public lecture at OsloMet University library on May 18th from 11:30-12:00. You can read more here: (3) Excess mortality during past and present pandemics | Facebook
The next PANSOC webinar will be on April 21 at 1600. Jord Hanus, University of Antwerp, will present “Socioeconomic Status and Epidemic Mortality in an Urban Environment (Mechelen, Belgium): Were Dysentery (1794) and Cholera (1866) Socially Neutral Diseases?”
In this paper, we present some of the first results of the http://www.epibel.be project on Epidemics and Inequality in Belgium, investigating socio-economic gradients in (epidemic) mortality for the mid-sized town of Mechelen (or Malines). We study the social profiles of the victims of two large outbreaks (dysentery in 1794 and cholera in 1866) in comparison with regular mortality in an attempt to map the ‘epidemic mortality premium’. This analysis connects various strands of literature, pushing our understanding of the health gradient further back in time as well as providing a detailed long-term understanding of an early-modern urban mortality regime, both in times of (epidemiological) crisis and in demographically less eventful periods.
Jord’s bio: “Since September 2021 I work as postdoc researcher on the EPIBEL project (www.epibel.be), which allows me to combine my passion for the study of inequalities in economic and social development with a very topical theme: the societal impact of epidemics. Before, I wrote a PhD (2006-2010) and worked as postdoc (2010-2013) on economic growth and inequality in the early modern Low Countries. Until 2021 I then served as Head of the Research Affairs Office of the UAntwerp’s Dept. of Research Affairs & Innovation (ADOC).”
1. Short presentation of the center – research perspectives and main goals
PANSOC is an internationally innovative research center that uses social science approaches to understand the past and present effects of pandemics. Similar centers have appeared at several prestigious universities during the COVID-19 pandemic, but only PANSOC has members that have been researching pandemics for over 25 years using social science and historical perspectives. Most of the other pandemic centers have their origins in medical schools, are primarily concerned with biomedical challenges, and only examine recent infectious diseases outbreaks. The extensive expertise and unique perspective of PANSOC’s researchers enable us to advance the global scientific frontier and contribute to important public and policy debates.
The creation of the center is mainly due to OsloMet’s investment in five Centres of Research Excellence (CRE), as well as individual researchers’ efforts to secure external research funding in Norway (FRIPRO) and in the EU (ERC) since 2016, in cooperation with the R&D department at OsloMet. PANSOC is not a further development of the existing research groups, and pandemic studies were not a focus research field at OsloMet until 2021.
2. Research projects and funding applications
In order to build up PANSOC from scratch, it has been absolutely necessary to win external research funding. The center has received funding from the EU (MSCA) and two programs in the Norwegian Research Council (PANRISK: funded by the SAMRISK program, with a top score of 7 in all areas, and CorRisk: COVID emergency call). We have also succeeded in obtaining funding for a stay at the Center for Advanced Studies (CAS) at the Norwegian Academy for Science and Letters in Oslo from August 2022 to June 2023. During the latter project, 15 international researchers with a background in epidemiology, genetics, social sciences and history will study why Indigenous peoples are vulnerable to serious disease during pandemics. PANSOC is the first OsloMet group awarded a research stay at CAS. The selection of CAS research groups follows an extensive review process by international experts, which shows the outstanding international quality of PANSOC’s research.
PANSOC sent three applications for pandemic studies to Excellence pillars in the EU and Norway including MSCA (12 October 2021 deadline, with a researcher from the University of St. Petersburg, Russia), Young CAS Fellow (9 December 2021 deadline) and ERC starting grant (13 January 2022 deadline). We also sent one proposal for an EEA Grant, which was funded (in collaboration with ISPUP, Portugal).
3. Research team and institutional collaborations
PANSOC consists of 16 researchers/scholars with a diversity of international backgrounds, experience, gender and age. Only the head of PANSOC, Professor Svenn-Erik Mamelund, is permanently employed. The co-leader, Jessica Dimka (PhD in anthropology from the University of Missouri), came to OsloMet in 2019 as a MSCA fellow. With CRE and RCN funding, two postdoctoral fellows have been employed, and they come from the highly renowned University of Coimbra, Portugal (Margarida Pereira, a geographer, since May 2021), and the University of Oxford, England (Benjamin Schneider, an economic historian, since March 2022). PANSOC also has three master’s students, two from OsloMet’s master’s program «International Social Welfare and Health Policy» (Lara Steinmetz from the Netherlands and Carla Hughes from England) who are supported by stipends from CRE funds, and one history student from University of Southeast Norway (USN) (Christina Stylegar Torjussen). Our MA students have contributed to our academic activities including presenting at internal meetings, PANSOC webinars, conferences, and taking part in interviews with media and in podcasts. Our 3 MA students are expected to submit their thesis in the Spring of 2022.
An associate history professor from USN has spent her research time on pandemic projects in collaboration with PANSOC. Five researchers from the Work Research Institute and Consumption Research Norway at OsloMet, as well as two research assistants, have contributed to various projects.
Additionally, the growing profile of PANSOC has attracted guest scholars. A fourth year PhD student in demography from The European University Institute, Florence, (Hilde Orderud) is a guest researcher at PANSOC in 2021-22. For a week in December 2021, PANSOC was also visited by a guest researcher from the University of Roskilde (historian Mathias Mølbak Ingholt), and future visits are also planned by other international colleagues (e.g., Prof. in history Kaspar Staub, University of Zürich, who will stay for a week in May 2022).
Via the ongoing PANRISK-funded RCN project and the upcoming CAS-stay, PANSOC collaborates with the Pandemic Center in Bergen (Esperanza Diaz), the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Birgitte Klüwer), PandemiX Center, the University of Roskilde (Lone Simonsen, Søren Ørskov, Mathias Mølbak Ingholt), and with researchers at the universities of Umeå (Åke Brännström), Zürich (Kaspar Staub), ISPUP, Portugal (Ana Isabel Ribeiro), Philadelphia (Megan Todd), Missouri (Lisa Sattenspiel & Taylor P. van Doren), California, Irvine (Andrew Noymer), Michigan (Siddharth Chandra), Arizona (Amanda Wissler, Gerardo Chowell-Puente), Northern British Columbia (Lianne Tripp), Alberta (Courtney Heffernan), Queensland (Katherine Kedzierska), Melbourne (Kirsty Short & Lauren Steele), Auckland (Heather Battles) and Otago (Michael Baker).
The first report from the Norwegian Corona Commission was presented 14 April 2021. PANSOC contributed by delivering an invited report and the report cites several of our op eds and also scientific journal publications (e.g. article 9 in appendix 1 below). This shows that our work has had clear political impact also in a Norwegian context.
PANSOC began to organize a webinar series in spring 2021, which has had nearly 30 talks to date, given by international researchers with participants from most world regions. The presentations encompass the breadth of research by PANSOC’s members and our many global collaborators, showcasing work on the social, economic, political, and cultural impacts and aspects of past pandemics as well as COVID-19.
PANSOC organized and hosted the 2nd Norwegian Historical Demography Meeting (NHDM) 17-18 January 2022. The first NHDM was held in Trondheim 1-2 December 2019. The planned NHDMs in 2020 and 2021 were postponed due to COVID-19 but was held this time on Zoom. In total, 13 talks from colleagues across 6 universities in Scandinavia were held in 6 sessions. Carla Hughes, Christina Stylegar Torjussen, Jessica Dimka and Svenn-Erik Mamelund were PANSOC members presenting.
During 2021 and to date, PANSOC has attracted some of the best international students and researchers doing social science and historical research on pandemics, sent applications to excellence pillars in funding entities, published many articles in top international journals, shared our research findings with the national and international public, and our research has had clear policy impact.
PANSOC co-leader Jessica Dimka and colleagues Taylor P. van Doren (Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri) and Heather T. Battles (Anthropology, School of Social Sciences, The University of Auckland) have just published a new paper for the Yearbook of Biological Anthropology. Read “Pandemics, past, and present: The role of biological anthropology in interdisciplinary pandemic studies” here: