Pervasive Communal Trauma in Higher Education: The Effects of COVID-19 Trauma on U.S. Higher Education Professionals
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted campus life in unprecedented ways. In response, higher education professionals have adapted, reframed, and provided support to students and colleagues while navigating the unknown world of the pandemic themselves. To better understand the effect COVID-19 may have on higher education professionals, this study introduces a conceptual form of connective trauma experience in the form of communal pervasive trauma. This research study examined (1) How does COVID-19 affect higher education professionals’ relationship with their work? (2) What effects does a pervasive communal traumatic experience, such as COVID-19, have on higher education professionals? Utilizing a phenomenological approach, nine mid- to senior-level higher education professionals across three different institutions in the Midwest, West, and Pacific and varying functional areas were interviewed. Results indicate an explorative developmental experience with one’s work across the pandemic, feelings of exhaustion from impossible expectations and limited resources, and personal disconnection and grief of sense of community and identity outside of work. This study provides implications for higher education and student affairs professionals in supporting their often overworked staff, notions of healing after tragedy, and how to continue functioning once the pandemic has ceased.
Graham F. Hunter
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium project, student affairs, School of Education and Health Sciences
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Good Health and Well-Being
"Pervasive Communal Trauma in Higher Education: The Effects of COVID-19 Trauma on U.S. Higher Education Professionals" (2021). Stander Symposium Projects. 2307.