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LISTEN: How Our Worldviews Have Changed During the Pandemic


The COVID-19 era has seen a significant rise in the level of attention the corporate world is paying to climate change and related issues, Ross School of Business Professor Andy Hoffman says in a new podcast.

Appearing on the Ideas Roadshow podcast, Hoffman said the pandemic and other changes in the world have led people to think bigger, with investors, insurance companies, consumers, and voters paying much more attention to the social impact of business. 

“People are looking during COVID to put their money into companies that they see as good social actors. And companies themselves are recognizing that they need to present themselves as good social actors in order to draw that money,” Hoffman said on the podcast. “The effects of climate change during COVID have become much more vivid and much more real for people. Whether it’s the forest fires or the droughts or the hurricanes or tornadoes, we’re seeing climate change, and more and more people are recognizing climate change is real.”

Hoffman also addressed changes he has seen in the attitudes of his students: “The students are coming to the idea of business as something more than just how to make money. If you went back 20 years ago, students who wanted to change the world went into programs for government and nonprofit management. Today, they’re going into schools of business.”

In addition, Hoffman and podcast host Howard Burton discuss a number of other issues on the show, including income inequality, the rise of conspiracy theories and the role of social media, and what exactly it means to trust in science. 
Hoffman concludes the discussion on a positive note: “The future is not certain. Many futures are possible. And that’s where my hope comes in.”

The episode with Hoffman is part of a much larger project created by Burton called “Pandemic Perspectives.” He has interviewed a number of thought leaders about the impact of the pandemic, and out of that has developed 24 podcast episodes, a movie, and a book of personal essays. Both the movie and book also briefly feature perspectives from Hoffman.

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