Graduate Student Research Opportunities: The Parallel Pandemic Project

Institute for Immigration Research, George Mason University &

Department of Public Administration, University of Karachi


The United States and Pakistan are two very different countries facing a common, invisible existential threat. With a combined population of over 500 million people, COVID-19 has both societies reeling as they face an uncertain future. How these two nations react will reflect their very different ways of life, as well as their common humanity. Viewed as extreme exogenous shock to both societies, COVID-19 is putting the cultural institutional framework of both the United States and Pakistan through a stress test. Social scientists have the opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of this framework and think about therapies for the nations going forward.

The Parallel Pandemic Project (PPP) is an effort to document and understand when and how the paths of the United States and Pakistan converge and diverge over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.  In early April of 2020 students and faculty in the social sciences at George Mason University (Mason) and the University of Karachi (UoK) began a series of informal virtual conversations and classroom exchanges to discuss how their respective societies were reacting to this new public health threat.

The work of the PPP will continue with a series of regular virtual discussions among scholars at Mason and UoK through the summer of 2020 (see schedule below). The aim is that based on this process faculty and students from a variety of departments at both institutions will align themselves into thematic working groups to develop projects and proposals for external support.  Negotiations are underway with the U.S. Department of State to provide honoraria for graduate students to participate in the fall.

For further information, please contact Jim Witte, Director of the Institute for Immigration Research, at

Summer Schedule 


July 1, 2020

Introduction to the Parallel Pandemic Project

Watch it here.


July 8, 2020

COVID-19 and Healthcare Systems with Dennis K. McBride, Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies


July 15, 2020

COVID-19 and the Economy with Dan Griswold, George Mason University, Co-Director, PAEG, Mercatus Policy Research, Mercatus Center


July 22, 2020

COVID-19 and Policy Implementation with Kingsley Haynes, George Mason University, Professor Emeritus


July 29, 2020

COVID-19 and Legislative Responses with Ed Rhodes, George Mason University, Professor of Public Policy


Aug 5, 2020

COVID-19 and Religion with John Turner, George Mason University, Professor of Religious Studies


Aug 12, 2020

COVID-19 and the Family with Patricia Masters, George Mason University, Associate Professor of Sociology


Aug 19, 2020

COVID-19 and the Educational System with Mark Ginsberg, George Mason University, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President


Aug 26, 2020

COVID-19 and the Media with Gary Kreps, George Mason University, Distinguished Professor of Communication, Director, Center for Health and Risk Communication