Political Science Professor Dr. Jon Miner Helps Create Dashboard for COVID-19
Dr. Jonathan Miner, in conjunction with Melissa Mack’s team at Witt O’Brien’s, a crisis and emergency management company, recently helped to launch a dashboard that shows every country’s current response to COVID-19. With this dashboard, you can find real-time, up-to-date information about school closures, essential business closures, non-essential business closures and shelter-in-place (stay-at-home, curfew, etc.) orders, as well as the progress of the gradual opening of each country’s economy.
Following extensive research and data collection for the COVID-19 dashboard, he and his colleagues developed a color-coded map to show each country’s response to the disaster. You can hover over country to see the government restrictions and the most recent information.
Dr. Miner, a Professor of Political Science at The University of North Georgia’s (UNG) Political Science & International Affairs (PSIA) Department, became interested in the project due to its international affairs relation. He started working on the project the week of March 27, 2020. Melissa Mack was developing the dashboard for Witt O’Briens and he was on spring break prepping for going online.
He initially became involved in the project as a way to help Ms. Mack out. Analyzing international policy is his main research interest, so this was a way to contribute to the COVID-19 response in some way while being quarantined. Ms. Mack was not sure if the project would officially be launched by her company, but the policy development research was needed to see if it was possible to assemble all of the evidence in one place.
“In working through this pandemic with our multinational clients, we identified an important gap,” said Mack, director and leader of this new initiative. “There does not appear to be a single source of information on constantly changing government restrictions, which differ nation by nation. We have elected to make this dashboard freely available, to provide situational awareness for both organizations with global operations and private citizens with a need to travel.”
The dashboard aims to provide up to date information to questions regarding the status of each country’s lockdown such as: What are the policies regarding school closings, essential and non-essential businesses and domestic/international travel? What parts of their economies are opening, and from what date? The COVID-19 outbreak is an international issue, and these questions compare the vast majority of the world’s countries regarding such an issue.
Dr. Miner says that, “It’s been very interesting researching and interpreting the direct policy makers in each country, and informally analyzing and understanding the differences between states. For example, it is far easier to enact restrictive COVID-19 policies in authoritarian states where top-down power is established than democratic systems where citizen input is needed for national decisions. Compiling the many different types of national policies adopted and the ways in which they are now reopening is fascinating from a political science perspective and opens some doors for further research and publication projects.”
Dr. Miner is focused on the real-life application of his research and he guides students in this way. His research includes comparative foreign policy, specifically comparing U.S. foreign policy to another country regarding a specific issue. An example includes comparing U.S. and Russian foreign policy regarding the conflict in Syria, or Iranian and Saudi foreign policy regarding the conflict in Yemen. This last example was the subject of UNG’s undergraduate student, Micaela Tierce’s thesis project, completed this semester for the Honors Program.
Dr. Miner teaches International Law, Middle Eastern Politics and various other courses in comparative and international politics in UNG’s PSIA Department. Along with disaster preparedness interests such as COVID-19, his research includes foreign policy decision-making, Turkish politics and U.S. national security strategy. He received his Ph.D. in International Studies from the University of South Carolina-Columbia in 2007 and has been teaching at UNG since then.