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Project ROUSE: Reopen Our University Safely and Effectively

Project ROUSE: Reopen Our University Safely and Effectively

Monday, October 12, 2020

How are you coping with the pandemic? How has it affected your health and well-being? How has your work situation changed and impacted you? How are you and your household coping? A team of Duke researchers are looking to you for answers to these important questions.

Project ROUSE is an independent study that will include the perspectives of all 25,000 Duke University employees who wish to join. Participation is critical as the researchers seek to understand how every person is affected by this once-a-century public health emergency.

An interdisciplinary faculty team is leading the study: Tyson Brown (Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Director, Center on Health & Society); Rachel Kranton (James B. Duke Professor, Department of Economics and Dean of Social Sciences, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences); Don Taylor (Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy and Director, Social Science Research Institute); Duncan Thomas (Norb F. Schaefer Professor of International Studies, Department of Economics).

“We want to understand the perspectives of all different parties and want everyone to be represented in our study,” said Tyson Brown. “With your input, we can generate better understanding and insight into how the pandemic is affecting all of us, and this information can help guide sensible, effective policies going forward.”


The research team is asking how COVID-19 has affected you, your health and well-being, your household, and your community in order to better understand how people have been affected by the pandemic and what people are doing to cope. Knowing how the pandemic is affecting everyone can better inform the impact of decisions being made.

“I find myself worrying about my kids, my Mom, myself, my wife, and all of my colleagues. We wonder what the world is going to be like in the next few months or few years. I find that talking about this helps me deal with my stress and to realize that it’s not just me feeling vulnerable, but that everybody is. That’s the reason we developed Project ROUSE. We want to give all University faculty and staff the chance to share their experience,” said Don Taylor. 

The survey should only take about 15-20 minutes and follow-up surveys will take about 15 minutes. As an incentive, everyone who participates in the survey, on any given week, will be entered into a lottery for one of ten gift baskets from a choice of vendors (up to $50 in value).

Brown expressed, “Like many of you, my family and I have struggled with uncertainty, unpredictability, and the isolation that has come with COVID-19. We’ve canceled plans, missed out on times with our families, and worried about the health and safety of those closest to us. And while we found joy spending more quality time together, we’ve also worried about the long-term impacts of this pandemic on our society, economy, and the balance of our lives. This pandemic has definitely brought great challenges and opportunities to all of us.”

Data Security

A concern for many people, when taking surveys, is confidentiality. Everything you say will be delinked from anything that identifies you, including your email address. The survey is designed so that it is not possible to determine anyone’s individual identity from the answers to research questions. You can choose which questions to answer and you can remove yourself from the study at any time.

The main issue for many employees is wondering if participating in the survey will affect their job in any way. This is an interdisciplinary team of research faculty conducting this scientific study, so no information will have any bearing on your work or employment.

Alexandra Cooper (Associate Director for Education and Training, SSRI) is lending her survey expertise to this project. She explained, “I’m really excited about Project ROUSE because it’s a research project that is studying how we have been reacting to these new working conditions, how we are adapting, and how the circumstances that we find ourselves in are affecting us. This project is different than other projects. It’s academic research, being directed by senior faculty at Duke, that will take the data collected from us and really study to understand what happened, what’s happening, how it’s working, what’s going well, and what’s not going well.”

Members of the study team will aggregate all answers in order to develop a better understanding of the impacts of COVID-19, taking into account that people’s experiences differ depending on their circumstances. It’s important that as many people as possible participate in the study so that everyone and their experiences are represented.

For more information on this project and to participate in the survey, please visit the Project ROUSE website.


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