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Challenges, Volume 13, Issue 1 (June 2022) – 27 articles

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14 pages, 599 KiB  
Article
Investigating the Status of Women Engineers in Education and Employment during the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Seema Singh
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010027 - 15 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2869
Abstract
Engineering is traditionally considered a male domain with lower female participation despite various affirmative actions taken in recent decades. There is evidence of greater gender equality as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and precautionary lockdown measures. With this in mind, this paper [...] Read more.
Engineering is traditionally considered a male domain with lower female participation despite various affirmative actions taken in recent decades. There is evidence of greater gender equality as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and precautionary lockdown measures. With this in mind, this paper investigates whether women engineers in India were more adversely affected than their male counterparts by the COVID-19 pandemic. Such an impact may be explained by ‘intersectional stigma’, expanded upon in the literature on discrimination. The impact of such stigma varies in different countries based on socio-cultural factors. Through the use of ethnographic and statistical research methods on secondary and primary data from a sample of 384 engineers, this paper shows that the impact of COVID-19 is not significantly different between genders in engineering education and employment. This may be due to the high demand for digital engineering skills, and strong family support in Indian society. Engineering branch may play a relatively more important role than gender in terms of impact. This finding has repercussions for continuing engineering education (CEE) programs and regulatory bodies in India in terms of enhancing course content and the results may be used in developing affirmative programs in other regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Work and Employment during the COVID-19 Pandemic)
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11 pages, 1333 KiB  
Article
Healthcare Service Quality from the Point of Healthcare Providers’ Perception at the Time of COVID-19
by Olivera Ivanov, Zoran Gojković, Nenad Simeunović, Danijela Gračanin, Aleksandra Milovančev, Dejan Ivanov, Marko Bojović, Miloš Bugarčić and Nikola Stojić
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010026 - 6 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2970
Abstract
The pandemic of the Coronavirus 19 disease (COVID-19) has had significant impact on healthcare systems worldwide. The present study aims to investigate the service providers’ quality dimensions in public sector hospitals in the Republic of Serbia during the COVID-19 pandemic and to propose [...] Read more.
The pandemic of the Coronavirus 19 disease (COVID-19) has had significant impact on healthcare systems worldwide. The present study aims to investigate the service providers’ quality dimensions in public sector hospitals in the Republic of Serbia during the COVID-19 pandemic and to propose a sustainable model for healthcare improvement. The study was conducted from September 2021 to December 2021. A modified SERPERF quality measurement questionnaire was distributed to healthcare workers in nine secondary care public hospitals of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Vojvodina (APV). Six hundred one questionnaires were found to be complete in all aspects and compared to 528 questionnaires from the database of the Provincial Secretariat for Health Care obtained from healthcare workers before the COVID-19 outbreak. The present study suggests that supportive measures during the COVID-19 pandemic are effective and, from the providers’ perception, increase healthcare quality. Continual investment in healthcare would provide sustainable development of healthcare quality in the future, regardless of the pandemic conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Trends)
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10 pages, 242 KiB  
Viewpoint
The Right to Make Mistakes? The Limits to Adaptive Planning for Climate Change
by Andrew Kirby
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010025 - 6 Jun 2022
Viewed by 2075
Abstract
While the UN recognizes the right of individuals “to take risks and make mistakes”, there are reasons to question whether this right can be universal. In the context of a changing climate, it is imperative that individuals have access to a safe and [...] Read more.
While the UN recognizes the right of individuals “to take risks and make mistakes”, there are reasons to question whether this right can be universal. In the context of a changing climate, it is imperative that individuals have access to a safe and sustainable environment; yet we must ask if this covenant is broken if people choose to place themselves in harm’s way. In its first part, this paper explores outcomes of climate change denial, manifested as continued migration to dangerous locations, and skepticism for adaptive strategies. The second half of the paper explores how localities can create a false narrative concerning risks, and asks whether communities also have a right to make mistakes? Full article
10 pages, 258 KiB  
Viewpoint
Planetary Health and Traditional Medicine: A Potential Synergistic Approach to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance
by Iyiola Olatunji Oladunjoye, Yusuf Amuda Tajudeen, Habeebullah Jayeola Oladipo and Mona Said El-Sherbini
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010024 - 1 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4331
Abstract
Antimicrobials are compounds that impede the activities of bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi. Continuous antimicrobial overuse, misuse, and improper use for human, animal, and agricultural purposes are raising concerns about antibiotic residue pollution in the environment, and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). Because antimicrobial-resistant [...] Read more.
Antimicrobials are compounds that impede the activities of bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi. Continuous antimicrobial overuse, misuse, and improper use for human, animal, and agricultural purposes are raising concerns about antibiotic residue pollution in the environment, and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). Because antimicrobial-resistant diseases are linked to human–-microbial ecosystems, environmental pollution from antibiotic residue and ARGs alters the makeup and diversity of human gut microbiota, putting resistance under selection pressure. This perspective proposes that antibiotic-induced microbiome depletion is linked to environmental quality and has repercussions for human health via the gut microbiome’s sensitive ecosystem. This has stimulated new global efforts and multidisciplinary, integrative approaches to addressing Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) awareness in communities. Several academic papers published in recent years have shown that medicinal plant extracts are effective against diseases on WHO’s pathogen priority lists (PPL), such as the ESKAPE pathogens (Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species). Traditional medicine, with its knowledge of medicinal plants, promises to be a valuable source of next-generation powerful antimicrobials. Examples include the recent discovery of Artemisinin, a highly active antimalarial drug derived from Artemisia annua, and the discovery of Taxol, an active chemotherapeutic drug derived from the bark of the Pacific yew, Taxus brevifolia. The connections between small and large ecosystems’ vitality, biodiversity protection, and human health have been acknowledged by Planetary Health principles. To address these intertwined concerns, a Planetary Health and Traditional Medicine approach can be adopted, and antimicrobial resistance can be addressed by expanding the screening of medicinal plants for bioactive compounds. Full article
19 pages, 651 KiB  
Review
Economic Evaluation of Nature-Based Therapy Interventions—A Scoping Review
by Henriette Busk, Ulrik Sidenius, Line Planck Kongstad, Sus Sola Corazon, Christina Bjørk Petersen, Dorthe Varning Poulsen, Patrik Karlsson Nyed and Ulrika Karlsson Stigsdotter
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010023 - 30 May 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3280
Abstract
Introduction: Nature-based therapy (NBT) has shown positive effects on different health-related outcomes and is becoming a more frequent approach in various rehabilitative interventions. Economic evaluations are widely used to inform decision makers of cost-effective interventions. However, economic evaluations of NBT have not yet [...] Read more.
Introduction: Nature-based therapy (NBT) has shown positive effects on different health-related outcomes and is becoming a more frequent approach in various rehabilitative interventions. Economic evaluations are widely used to inform decision makers of cost-effective interventions. However, economic evaluations of NBT have not yet been reviewed. The aim of this review was to uncover existing types and characteristics of economic evaluations in the field of nature-based therapeutic interventions. Methods: In this scoping review available knowledge about the topic was mapped. A comprehensive search of selected databases (MEDLINE; EMBASE; CINAHL; Scopus; Cochrane; PSYCinfo; Web of Science) and grey literature was conducted in November 2021. Data was synthesised in a thematic presentation. Results: Three papers met the inclusion criteria, containing differences in design, types and dose of nature-based therapeutic interventions, outcome measures and target groups (n = 648). The papers showed tendencies toward a good treatment effect and positive economic effect in favour of NBT. Conclusions: Three different cohort studies have tried calculating the economic impact of NBT indicating a good effect of the NBT. The evidence on the economic benefits of NBT is still sparse though promising, bearing the limitations of the studies in mind. Economic evaluation of NBT is a new area needing more research, including high-quality research studies where the economic evaluation model is included/incorporated from the beginning of the study design. This will enhance the credibility and usefulness to policy makers and clinicians. Full article
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18 pages, 1992 KiB  
Review
Arctic Sea Ice Decline and Geoengineering Solutions: Cascading Security and Ethical Considerations
by Alec P. Bennett, Troy J. Bouffard and Uma S. Bhatt
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010022 - 25 May 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 5987
Abstract
Climate change is generating sufficient risk for nation-states and citizens throughout the Arctic to warrant potentially radical geoengineering solutions. Currently, geoengineering solutions such as surface albedo modification or aerosol deployment are in the early stages of testing and development. Due to the scale [...] Read more.
Climate change is generating sufficient risk for nation-states and citizens throughout the Arctic to warrant potentially radical geoengineering solutions. Currently, geoengineering solutions such as surface albedo modification or aerosol deployment are in the early stages of testing and development. Due to the scale of deployments necessary to enact change, and their preliminary nature, these methods are likely to result in unforeseen consequences. These consequences may range in severity from local ecosystem impacts to large scale changes in available solar energy. The Arctic is an area that is experiencing rapid change, increased development, and exploratory interest, and proposed solutions have the potential to produce new risks to both natural and human systems. This article examines potential security and ethical considerations of geoengineering solutions in the Arctic from the perspectives of securitization, consequentialism, and risk governance approaches, and argues that proactive and preemptive frameworks at the international level, and especially the application of risk governance approaches, will be needed to prevent or limit negative consequences resulting from geoengineering efforts. Utilizing the unique structures already present in Arctic governance provides novel options for addressing these concerns from both the perspective of inclusive governance and through advancing the understanding of uncertainty analysis and precautionary principles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic The Arctic Atmosphere: Climate and Weather)
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12 pages, 689 KiB  
Article
Why Do Young Adults in the United States Have Such Low Rates of Organ Donation Registration?
by Amy J. Wotring, Timothy R. Jordan, Barbara Saltzman, Tavis Glassman, Jennifer Holloway and Jagdish Khubchandani
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010021 - 19 May 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4539
Abstract
The demand for transplantable organs has outpaced the supply. Thus, 20 Americans die every day while waiting for an organ. Although most adults support organ donation, 42% are not registered. The rate is even lower among young adults who are not enrolled in/never [...] Read more.
The demand for transplantable organs has outpaced the supply. Thus, 20 Americans die every day while waiting for an organ. Although most adults support organ donation, 42% are not registered. The rate is even lower among young adults who are not enrolled in/never graduated from college. The aim of this study was to use the Integrated Behavior Model (IBM) to identify factors that predicted organ donation registration among a racially diverse sample of non-student young adults. The study was observational and cross-sectional. Proportional allocation was used to identify a racially diverse sample of 550 non-student, young adults from ten states in the U.S. with the lowest registration rates. A valid and reliable survey was designed, pilot-tested, and administered. A total of 407 young adults completed the survey (74%). Only 19% were registered donors. Caucasians were more likely to be registered donors than racial minorities, χ² (3, N = 407) = 15.19, p = 0.002. Those with more positive direct attitudes toward registration were 1.5 times more likely to be registered than those who had negative direct attitudes. Among non-registrants, indirect descriptive norm and direct attitude were statistically significant predictors of behavioral intention. Moreover, those who knew someone who donated an organ and knew someone who needed a transplant were nearly three times more likely to intend to register in the next year. The IBM proved useful in elucidating factors that predicted intention to register among non-student young adults. The IBM should be used by those who desire to increase registration rates. Full article
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6 pages, 3164 KiB  
Viewpoint
A Spirit of Place
by Ava Carney
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010020 - 10 May 2022
Viewed by 1818
Abstract
This article charts the effects of community, public space, and transdisciplinary interaction on the author’s artistic practice. By considering some of the broader societal and ideological implications of situating artwork in a natural setting, A Spirit of Place reflects on connection points between [...] Read more.
This article charts the effects of community, public space, and transdisciplinary interaction on the author’s artistic practice. By considering some of the broader societal and ideological implications of situating artwork in a natural setting, A Spirit of Place reflects on connection points between public art and ecological citizenship. Full article
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12 pages, 1936 KiB  
Viewpoint
Planetary Health: We Need to Talk about Narcissism
by Alan C. Logan and Susan L. Prescott
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010019 - 7 May 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 4513
Abstract
Concepts of planetary health attempt to collectively address the biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors contributing to “Anthropocene Syndrome”, which encompasses the many wicked interrelated challenges of our time. It is increasingly evident that the wide array of causative factors is underpinned by [...] Read more.
Concepts of planetary health attempt to collectively address the biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors contributing to “Anthropocene Syndrome”, which encompasses the many wicked interrelated challenges of our time. It is increasingly evident that the wide array of causative factors is underpinned by attitudes, values, and worldviews. Emerging research suggests that certain dispositions or ‘traits’—observable along the continuum from individuals to large groups—may be central to the promotion of health of all systems, at all scales. Here in this viewpoint, we focus on the personality trait of narcissism in the collective context of planetary health. First described in 1852 by pioneering psychiatrist Joseph Guislain, the Mania of Narcissus refers to ‘the patient infatuated with his beauty, his charms, his wit, dress, talents, and birth’. We argue that Guislain’s observations are not restricted to the clinical setting, and that a larger-scale narcissism can interfere with the principles of planetary health. We propose that increasing narcissism, at scales ranging from the individual to the collective, is an important consideration in attitudes and behaviors that undermine health along the continuum of person, place, and planet. Despite a growing body of research directed at collective narcissism, and the role that empathy plays in healthy relationships between humans and nature, it is our contention that the role of narcissism and empathy are important but neglected aspects of the planetary health agenda. Full article
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17 pages, 3006 KiB  
Article
Biosynthesis of Silver Nanoparticles from Cymbopogon citratus Leaf Extract and Evaluation of Their Antimicrobial Properties
by S M Rakib-Uz-Zaman, Ehsanul Hoque Apu, Mohammed Nimeree Muntasir, Sadrina Afrin Mowna, Mst Gitika Khanom, Shah Saif Jahan, Nahid Akter, M. Azizur R. Khan, Nadia Sultana Shuborna, Shahriar Mohd Shams and Kashmery Khan
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010018 - 5 May 2022
Cited by 35 | Viewed by 5142
Abstract
Background: Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are toxic to microorganisms and can potentially kill multidrug-resistant bacteria. Nanoparticles can be synthesized in many ways, such as physical or chemical methods. Recently, it has been found that plant molecules can perform the same reduction reactions necessary for [...] Read more.
Background: Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are toxic to microorganisms and can potentially kill multidrug-resistant bacteria. Nanoparticles can be synthesized in many ways, such as physical or chemical methods. Recently, it has been found that plant molecules can perform the same reduction reactions necessary for the production of nanoparticles but in a much more efficient way. Results: Here, green chemistry was employed to synthesize AgNPs using leaf extracts of Cymbopogon citratus. The effects of different parameters such as temperature, pH, and the volume of plant extract were also tested using their absorbance pattern at different wavelengths. The Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) changed with the changes in parameters. Changes in temperature from 20 °C to 60 °C have changed the highest absorbance from 0.972 to 3.893 with an SPR of 470 nm. At higher pH (11.1), the particles become highly unstable and have irregular shapes and sizes. The peak shifts to the right at a lower pH level (3.97), indicating a smaller but unstable compound. We have also investigated the effect of the volume of plant extracts on the reaction time. The sample with the highest amount of plant extract showed the most absorbance with a value of 0.963 at λmax, calculated to be 470 nm. The total formation of the AgNPs was observed visually with a color change from yellow to brownish-black. UV-visible spectroscopy was used to monitor the quantitative formation of AgNPs, showing a signature peak in absorbance between 400 and 500 nm. We have estimated the size of the nanoparticles as 47 nm by comparing the experimental data with the theoretical value using Mieplot. The biosynthesized AgNPs showed enhanced antibacterial activity against several multidrug-resistant bacteria, determined based on the minimal inhibitory concentration and zone of inhibition. Conclusion: The findings of this study indicate that an aqueous extract of C. citratus can synthesize AgNPs when silver nitrate is used as a precursor, and AgNPs act as antimicrobial property enhancers, which can be used to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Hence, mass production and green synthesis of AgNPs from C. citratus will be able to increase the overall health of the general population. Moreover, it will enormously reduce the costs for drug development and provide employment options in the remotely located source areas. Finally, our findings will influence further studies in this field to better understand the properties and applications of AgNPs and ultimately contribute to improving planetary health by increasing immunity with high biocompatibility and less drug toxicity. Full article
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14 pages, 259 KiB  
Article
Association between Information Dissemination and Compliance with Preventive Measures during the Coronavirus Disease Pandemic in Hong Kong Working Population: Cross-Sectional Survey
by Clement Cheuk-Wai Ng, Eliza Lai-Yi Wong, Kin-Fai Ho, Annie Wai-Ling Cheung, Samuel Yeung-Shan Wong and Eng-Kiong Yeoh
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010017 - 21 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2916
Abstract
Background: To fight the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, it is important for the population to keep abreast of COVID-19 updates and comply with the suggested preventive measures. Understanding the influence of popular dissemination channels under the surge of an ‘infodemic’ is crucial, as [...] Read more.
Background: To fight the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, it is important for the population to keep abreast of COVID-19 updates and comply with the suggested preventive measures. Understanding the influence of popular dissemination channels under the surge of an ‘infodemic’ is crucial, as the population may receive conflicting information from various sources. Objective: This study aimed to examine the association between information source usage and COVID-19-preventive measures compliance. Methods: An online cross-sectional study was conducted in February 2020. Four COVID-19-preventive strategies, including ‘hand hygiene’, ‘mask wearing’, ‘household hygiene’, and ‘social distancing’, were studied with respect to their usage from three common health information sources and three dissemination channels. Logistic regressions were modelled to study the odds ratio of the preventive behavior compliance in terms of information source usage. Results: A total of 1048 respondents completed the survey and the sample demonstrated high compliance in hand hygiene (81.4%) and mask wearing (93.5%), but lower compliance in household hygiene (22.4%) and social distancing (65.7%). Females and chronic diseases patients were found more likely to adopt COVID-19-preventive measures. Participants recorded highest usage in social media (80.1%) among information sources and respondents with frequent social media use had improved compliances in the preventive behaviors studied. Conclusions: The study presented evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of social media in disseminating information related to complying COVID-19-preventive behaviors. The impact of social media in spreading COVID-19 information should be recognized, despite the concerns regarding misinformation. With disciplined use, social media may help to halt the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases by encouraging community participation. Full article
18 pages, 1602 KiB  
Article
Experiences of Academics Working from Home during COVID-19: A Qualitative View from Selected South African Universities
by Chux Gervase Iwu, Obianuju E. Okeke-Uzodike, Emem Anwana, Charmaine Helena Iwu and Emmanuel Ekale Esambe
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010016 - 16 Apr 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 7329
Abstract
The continuing crisis caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has raised significant challenges for the higher education community globally. In South Africa, the government-forced lockdown measures and social distancing containment policy changed working arrangements across sectors and organisations. As a result, academics [...] Read more.
The continuing crisis caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has raised significant challenges for the higher education community globally. In South Africa, the government-forced lockdown measures and social distancing containment policy changed working arrangements across sectors and organisations. As a result, academics were forced to work from home (WFH), a task for which they were hardly prepared. Several researchers have engaged the WFH situation of academics to understand the relationship between WFH and productivity. As far as we know, very few studies have tried to describe academics’ WFH experiences in relation to the challenges, including determining possible ways of improving their satisfaction with working from home. We examine in this article the experiences of academics working from home across selected universities in South Africa. Using a qualitative approach and applying Atlas.ti for data analysis, our findings show that working from home in academia is a daunting task requiring extensive organisational, personal, and social adjustments. The population comprised all academics irrespective of any demographic or personality characteristic within the management faculty of the participating universities to secure the anonymity of the respondents. Five themes—inability to adapt, lack of a home office, loneliness and isolation, inability to balance family and work, and improving satisfaction with work from home—were identified as significant variables from the participants’ responses. Our analysis suggests that organisations need to customise approaches to engage with the experiences of academics who work from home during COVID-19 and to develop fit-for-purpose support for these academics. The study contributes to the growing research exploring the relationship between COVID-19 lockdown and work in higher education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Work and Employment during the COVID-19 Pandemic)
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7 pages, 698 KiB  
Article
Preliminary Exploration of the Red Pigment from Scytalidium cuboideum as a Cellulosic Pulp Colorant
by Derek W. Stone, Sarath M. Vega Gutierrez, Zielle M. Walsh and Seri C. Robinson
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010015 - 7 Apr 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2623
Abstract
Pollution from the international dye industry continues to be a global problem. Biotechnology offers new options, including a closer look at select wood decay fungi to replace inorganic dyes. The pigments produced by a small group of soft rotting fungi are generally naphthoquinonic [...] Read more.
Pollution from the international dye industry continues to be a global problem. Biotechnology offers new options, including a closer look at select wood decay fungi to replace inorganic dyes. The pigments produced by a small group of soft rotting fungi are generally naphthoquinonic and remarkably stable. From this group, the dramada crystals, produced by Scytalidium cuboideum, are of particular interest. To test the application of this pigment as a natural colorant of cellulosic pulps, four different bleached pulps were selected (one hardwood, three softwood), in three different mediums (acetone, ethanol, and DI water). The pigment generated a significant change of color, but there was no significant difference in color intensity based on the solvent carrier. These preliminary results are promising as they open the door for further exploration of applications of fungal pigments in the paper industry. Once these pigments can be reliably grown, they will offer a sustainable organic alternative to polluting inorganic dyestuffs and help reduce the toxic effluent released into the soil and waterways. Full article
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16 pages, 1252 KiB  
Article
The Importance of Self-Leadership Strategies and Psychological Safety for Well-Being in the Context of Enforced Remote Work
by Kirsi Sjöblom, Soile Juutinen and Anne Mäkikangas
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010014 - 4 Apr 2022
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 9983
Abstract
This study examines the relationship between self-leadership strategies and occupational well-being and whether psychological safety has moderated these relationships in the context of enforced remote work caused by COVID-19. Altogether, 2493 higher education employees, most of whom were working entirely remotely due to [...] Read more.
This study examines the relationship between self-leadership strategies and occupational well-being and whether psychological safety has moderated these relationships in the context of enforced remote work caused by COVID-19. Altogether, 2493 higher education employees, most of whom were working entirely remotely due to the pandemic, responded to an electronic survey in May 2021. Hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses were conducted as the main method of analysis. The results showed that goal-oriented and well-being-related self-leadership strategies as well as psychological safety were positively related to meaningfulness of work and negatively to job burnout. Psychological safety moderated the relation between goal-oriented self-leadership strategies and meaningfulness of work. The study presents much-needed novel knowledge about self-leadership and psychological safety in the context of remote work and sheds light on the interrelatedness between self-leadership strategies, psychological safety, and occupational well-being. It presents a novel category of well-being-related self-leadership strategies and contributes to the measurement of both self-leadership and psychological safety. In order to both enable sufficient well-being and facilitate flourishing at work, it is imperative to support employees in learning and applying diverse self-leadership strategies as well as ensure psychological safety at workplace, especially in post-pandemic multi-locational work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Work and Employment during the COVID-19 Pandemic)
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14 pages, 259 KiB  
Article
The Double-Sided Nature of Meaningful Work: Promoting and Challenging Factors within the Swedish Equine Sector
by Åsa Bergman Bruhn
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010013 - 1 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2960
Abstract
Meaningful work is related to a range of positive outcomes, but also negative effects. Research regarding meaningful work and lifestyle-oriented work; i.e., when making a livelihood based on a leisure interest and personal lifestyle, is deficient. The aim of this qualitative study is [...] Read more.
Meaningful work is related to a range of positive outcomes, but also negative effects. Research regarding meaningful work and lifestyle-oriented work; i.e., when making a livelihood based on a leisure interest and personal lifestyle, is deficient. The aim of this qualitative study is therefore to explore factors that promote and challenge meaningful work in a lifestyle-oriented setting. The study focuses on the perspective of employees within the Swedish equine sector, and is based on individual interviews. The results show that person–environment fit, task significance, and occupational culture seem to be important factors in the promotion of meaningful work. In addition, the analysis also illustrates how the nature of meaningful work has an inherent duality, constructed by a balancing act between doing good for oneself and for others. The tension is reinforced by the fact that the same factors can both promote meaningful work and challenge meaningfulness. This study shows that meaningful work not only comes with satisfaction, enjoyment, and fulfillment, but also an acceptance of challenging working conditions, which may lead to sacrifices and exhaustion. The double-sided nature of meaningful work can therefore affect the employees’ well-being, and challenge the willingness and ability to remain in the occupation. Full article
8 pages, 231 KiB  
Viewpoint
Human Flourishing in the Era of COVID-19: How Spirituality and the Faith Sector Help and Hinder Our Collective Response
by Jeff Levin
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010012 - 17 Mar 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3828
Abstract
Throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, religious people and institutions have played a significant role in responding to the challenges that we all have faced. In some instances, religion has been a source of great harm, hindering the global response. Many religious leaders have [...] Read more.
Throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, religious people and institutions have played a significant role in responding to the challenges that we all have faced. In some instances, religion has been a source of great harm, hindering the global response. Many religious leaders have promoted misinformation and disinformation; others have promulgated messages of hatred and blame, especially hindering efforts to prevent infection and community transmission and to promote immunization. This has occurred throughout the world, across cultures, religions, and nations. In many other instances, however, the faith sector has been a source of great help, ministering to the lives of suffering and fearful people both emotionally and tangibly. People of faith, including clergy and faith-based organizations, have contributed positively to the global response effort by fulfilling the pastoral, ethical, and prophetic roles of religion. Expressions of spirituality, both personal and institutional, have thus contributed to great flourishing in the midst of a terrible public health emergency. Full article
13 pages, 242 KiB  
Article
Worker Agency versus Wellbeing in the Enforced Work-From-Home Arrangement during COVID-19: A Labour Process Analysis
by Sheldon M. Bromfield
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010011 - 17 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3544
Abstract
This article offers a theorization based on selected literature focused on problematizing the work-from-home phenomenon. It incorporates labour process theory and the work-from-home literature to dissect the impact of enforced working from home procedures during COVID-19. The article presents the advantages to working [...] Read more.
This article offers a theorization based on selected literature focused on problematizing the work-from-home phenomenon. It incorporates labour process theory and the work-from-home literature to dissect the impact of enforced working from home procedures during COVID-19. The article presents the advantages to working from home from the existing work-from-home literature and draws on labour process theory to challenge these advantages. The disadvantages discussed in this article include constant availability, enhanced productivity with unpaid labour, loss of worker subjectivity, identity conflicts, and extracting productivity while downloading costs of production to workers. While the advantages include enhanced autonomy, reduction in unproductive time and increased affordances in participation, empowerment and worker agency, the article weighs the potential, parallel impacts of worker control and reduction in personal wellbeing. Although it seems that the work-from-home arrangement is, predominantly, here to stay, I argue that workers consent to their demise, as the dark side of enforced work-from-home arrangements detract from the benefits of in-person social relations of work and learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Work and Employment during the COVID-19 Pandemic)
12 pages, 249 KiB  
Article
The Challenges and Realities of E-Learning during COVID-19: The Case of University Sport and Physical Education
by Louis Moustakas and Denise Robrade
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010009 - 11 Mar 2022
Cited by 37 | Viewed by 13339
Abstract
E-learning quickly became a crucial tool for universities and other higher education institutions during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The field of sport and physical education (PE) was no exception. However, though there is considerable growth in digital technologies in sport or physical education, [...] Read more.
E-learning quickly became a crucial tool for universities and other higher education institutions during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The field of sport and physical education (PE) was no exception. However, though there is considerable growth in digital technologies in sport or physical education, we have very little evidence about the use and outcomes of these technologies. Thus, this study aims to document how e-learning technologies and pedagogical approaches were employed in the field of sport, the challenges and successes associated with these approaches, and potential avenues for improvement. To do so, a total of 27 responses were collected with two online qualitative surveys, one respectively for students (n = 15) and one for teachers (n = 12). Structured follow-up interviews with four students and one additional teacher were conducted to verify and deepen the responses. The findings show that interaction and variety were critical components of successful online learning. However, teachers reported difficulties motivating students, especially if no visual connection was present. Ultimately, even with innovation, variety, and interaction, sport and physical education’s practical and social nature does not fully translate to the online setting. Thus, we conclude by proposing potential avenues for practice and research to respond to the challenges documented here. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Education/Higher Education during COVID-19)
20 pages, 338 KiB  
Article
COVID-19-Related Job Demands and Resources, Organizational Support, and Employee Well-Being: A Study of Two Nordic Countries
by Johanna Lilja, Silje Fladmark, Sanna Nuutinen, Laura Bordi, Riitta-Liisa Larjovuori, Siw Tone Innstrand, Marit Christensen and Kirsi Heikkilä-Tammi
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010010 - 11 Mar 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 5053
Abstract
The purpose of this study is to examine how COVID-19-related job demands and resources have been associated with employee well-being in Nordic countries across specific occupational groups. The study investigated four occupational groups: (1) professional, scientific, and technical occupations in Norway (n [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study is to examine how COVID-19-related job demands and resources have been associated with employee well-being in Nordic countries across specific occupational groups. The study investigated four occupational groups: (1) professional, scientific, and technical occupations in Norway (n = 301); (2) teachers in Finland (n = 315); (3) health and social service occupations in Norway (n = 267); and (4) geriatric nurses in Finland (n = 105). Hypotheses were tested using two-step hierarchical regression analysis. Work–home imbalance in Groups 1, 2, and 3, workload increase in Groups 1 and 3, and fear of infection in Groups 2 and 3 were positively related with exhaustion. A positive attitude towards digital solutions was positively related to work engagement in Groups 2 and 3. In addition, there was a significant positive relationship between COVID-19-related organizational support and work engagement in Groups 2, 3, and 4, and a negative relationship with exhaustion in Group 2. In conclusion, pandemic-related job demands and resources were differently associated with employee well-being across different occupational groups and countries. Further, organizational support may act as a supportive element for sustaining employee well-being during pandemics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Work and Employment during the COVID-19 Pandemic)
13 pages, 264 KiB  
Article
Silenced Coffee Rooms—The Changes in Social Capital within Social Workers’ Work Communities during the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Sanna Saraniemi, Timo Harrikari, Vera Fiorentino, Marjo Romakkaniemi and Laura Tiitinen
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010008 - 1 Mar 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3967
Abstract
The sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing restrictive measures to combat infections led to a significant change in working life and social work within working communities. Workers had to switch to telecommuting quickly, which also affected the interactions between co-workers. [...] Read more.
The sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing restrictive measures to combat infections led to a significant change in working life and social work within working communities. Workers had to switch to telecommuting quickly, which also affected the interactions between co-workers. In this research, we examined Finnish social workers’ experiences of their work communities during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We explored (1) how the restrictive measures affected social workers’ work communities and (2) what types of factors promoted and challenged the cohesion of social networks and mutual trust between colleagues. The conceptual framework was based on social capital theory, in which social relations are seen as a resource of a community. The data utilised in the study were social workers’ diaries (n = 33) written from mid-March until the end of May 2020. The data were analysed by a qualitative content analysis. The results highlight how the multilocation of work, fear of viral infection and varying attitudes towards the viral outbreak affected the interactions between colleagues in the early stages of the pandemic, increasing tensions and feelings of social distance between co-workers. The common professional value and knowledge base of social work, as well as remote work practices developed during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, supported interactions between colleagues. Although remote interaction options were developed, they could not, however, fully replace the advantages of face-to-face interactions and everyday informal encounters between colleagues, the importance of which is essential for developing and maintaining the social capital of work communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Work and Employment during the COVID-19 Pandemic)
13 pages, 536 KiB  
Article
Together Alone: Going Online during COVID-19 Is Changing Scientific Conferences
by Heather J. Bray, Jennifer Stone, Lillith Litchfield, Kara L. Britt, John L. Hopper and Wendy V. Ingman
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010007 - 19 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3169
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic caused many scientific conferences to move online, posing a great challenge for scientific communication. This change offers potential advantages and disadvantages for inclusion, diversity, and scientific advancement. Here, we analyse participants’ experiences of the Why Study Mammographic Density? Conference to [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused many scientific conferences to move online, posing a great challenge for scientific communication. This change offers potential advantages and disadvantages for inclusion, diversity, and scientific advancement. Here, we analyse participants’ experiences of the Why Study Mammographic Density? Conference to explore some of these issues and identify key points of contention between different stakeholders. We found that while increasing participant diversity is facilitated by online conferencing, if the participants cannot interact informally with each other, there is value which is lost. In returning to in-person conferences, it will be important not to “shut the door” on those whose participation was enabled by the online format. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Trends)
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13 pages, 227 KiB  
Article
Professionals’ Views on Challenges in Inpatient Substance Abuse Treatment during COVID-19 Pandemic in Finland
by Eeva Ekqvist, Tuija Karsimus, Arja Ruisniemi and Katja Kuusisto
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010006 - 17 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3494
Abstract
The pandemic caused by COVID-19 (an acute respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus) has had harmful effects on people in need of special support. People with problematic substance use are recognized as such a group. The pandemic has raised the need for sufficient [...] Read more.
The pandemic caused by COVID-19 (an acute respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus) has had harmful effects on people in need of special support. People with problematic substance use are recognized as such a group. The pandemic has raised the need for sufficient treatment and services during these unpredictable conditions. At the same time, it poses severe challenges to their production and provision. The purpose of the study was to use content analysis to qualitatively examine Finnish professionals’ (N = 22) views on (1) the challenges posed by COVID-19 in working in inpatient substance abuse treatment, (2) how these challenges have been addressed, and (3) what the consequences of the challenges and the solutions to them are. The findings confirmed that COVID-19 has caused drastic changes in the organization of treatment and daily practices. Professionals experience challenges in preventing infection from spreading into and within treatment units. They also describe difficulties in applying social distancing in treatment that is based on therapeutic communities. The pandemic has also challenged communication and co-worker support among professionals. These challenges have led to practical solutions that, in turn, have their own consequences for treatment practices. We conclude that the quality of treatment has to some extent been impaired because of the pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Work and Employment during the COVID-19 Pandemic)
2 pages, 143 KiB  
Editorial
Retirement Farewell, and Recommendations for the Next Generation of Scientists
by Palmiro Poltronieri
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 5; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010005 - 8 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1890
Abstract
While thematic journals have seen a great increase in submissions that ensure their status of monthly or bi-weekly editions, growing their audience in the scientific community, journals such as Challenges, at the crossroad of various disciplines, have laid their foundations as cross-cultural [...] Read more.
While thematic journals have seen a great increase in submissions that ensure their status of monthly or bi-weekly editions, growing their audience in the scientific community, journals such as Challenges, at the crossroad of various disciplines, have laid their foundations as cross-cultural and interdisciplinary journals [...] Full article
16 pages, 271 KiB  
Article
Time, Space and Agency in the Finnish Cultural Sector at the Time of COVID-19
by Arja Haapakorpi, Minna Leinonen and Katri Otonkorpi-Lehtoranta
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010004 - 31 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2861
Abstract
The organization of working times and workplaces has typically been diverse and hybrid for people working in culture. Work is characterized by precarious conditions such as short-term contracts and seasonal employment. The impact of COVID-19 has shown the vulnerability and uniqueness of the [...] Read more.
The organization of working times and workplaces has typically been diverse and hybrid for people working in culture. Work is characterized by precarious conditions such as short-term contracts and seasonal employment. The impact of COVID-19 has shown the vulnerability and uniqueness of the employment conditions in this sector. We collected personal written texts from people working in the cultural sector in spring 2020, when in Finland the first wave of COVID-19 was subsiding and nobody knew when the next wave would come. We analyzed the ways cultural workers constructed agency on temporal and relational dimensions as regards work and non-work. The content analytic approach highlighted two main types of situational agencies, the normative employment agency and the precarious work agency, both of which were shaped by the uncertain conditions of the cultural sector. Due to the differing employment conditions, both intensification of work and small agency were present in work of the cultural sector and posed challenges to the management of time and the future. However, the terms and conditions for agency construction varied, even under similar circumstances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Work and Employment during the COVID-19 Pandemic)
1 pages, 151 KiB  
Editorial
Acknowledgment to Reviewers of Challenges in 2021
by Challenges Editorial Office
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010003 - 28 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1929
Abstract
Rigorous peer-reviews are the basis of high-quality academic publishing [...] Full article
24 pages, 4949 KiB  
Article
Remote and Technology-Based Dialogic Development during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Positive and Negative Experiences, Challenges, and Learnings
by Sirpa Syvänen and Kaija Loppela
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010002 - 20 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4909
Abstract
This study aimed to analyze the challenges, learning experiences, and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in a social, healthcare, and special education development project financed by the European Social Fund. The theoretical framework of the project relied on the theories of dialogic development [...] Read more.
This study aimed to analyze the challenges, learning experiences, and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in a social, healthcare, and special education development project financed by the European Social Fund. The theoretical framework of the project relied on the theories of dialogic development and leadership. The method was participatory action research using data collected from various assessments and a questionnaire. Reports of neutral, negative, and positive experiences among two participant groups of the project—the implementers and pilot organizations—in remote work, devices and applications, and remote and technology-based development processes, were recorded. Both participant groups reported increased pressure at work, social isolation, professional loneliness, and improved work control and efficiency. The pilots have learned the development method, and development has been able to continue by utilizing technology despite the pandemic. Development through technology was more difficult, and new dialogic interaction tools have been created. The project was most effective with regard to leadership, teams, renewal, and information flow. There is a need for wide-ranging dialogues with various working life actors when outlining the ways in which future work will be carried out and to reflect on how remote work, technology, and digitalization affect well-being at work, social relations, and leadership. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Challenges in Work and Employment during the COVID-19 Pandemic)
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16 pages, 1087 KiB  
Article
A Scoping Review Examining Governance, Co-Creation, and Social and Ecological Justice in Living Labs Literature
by Lindsay P. Galway, Charles Z. Levkoe, Rachel L. W. Portinga and Kathryn Milun
Challenges 2022, 13(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/challe13010001 - 31 Dec 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3802
Abstract
Living Labs (LLs) are increasingly being used as an approach to address complex sustainability-related challenges. Inspired by existing knowledge and practice gaps, calls for further examination of governance and co-creation in relation to LLs work, and our experiences in the Lake Superior Living [...] Read more.
Living Labs (LLs) are increasingly being used as an approach to address complex sustainability-related challenges. Inspired by existing knowledge and practice gaps, calls for further examination of governance and co-creation in relation to LLs work, and our experiences in the Lake Superior Living Labs Network, we conducted a scoping review of the recent (2015–2019) LLs literature. This review focused on peer-reviewed LLs literature aimed at addressing sustainability-related challenges and involving universities as key collaborators specifically. This scoping review addressed the research questions: how are LLs conceptualized, described, and applied? how are LLs governed? How is co-creation supported in LLs work? and, are social and/or environmental justice considered in LLs work? From the 729 citations gathered in the electronic database searches, 48 papers were identified as relevant through the screening and eligibility assessment. We found that this literature is growing rapidly, highly interdisciplinary, and predominantly taking place within European urban centres. We summarize the findings in relation to our research questions and outline implications for interrogating governance, unpacking co-creation, and working towards social and ecological justice in LLs research and practice. We conclude by outlining four key research directions to advance LLs work, including, (1) expanding research across a greater diversity of settings; (2) examining and analyzing governance and power dynamics; (3) exploring how learning evolves via co-creation; and (4) examining how universities are impeding and/or supporting advances in relation to governance, co-creation, and justice in LLs work. Full article
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