Ready Set Fit and Covid-19: Challenges to Collaborative Community-Engaged Student Research in a Pandemic

Stu Thompson

Katherine Faull, Shaunna Barnhart

Bucknell University


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the productive and innovative collaboration between Bucknell students, faculty, and staff and community leaders in the post-industrial river town, Milton, especially with The Improved Milton Experience (TIME). Until the outbreak of the pandemic, Bucknell, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation of Natural Resources (DCNR) and TIME worked together to develop walking paths in the Milton area that accessed historical and cultural information through a smartphone app. In addition to the delivery of information the app also supports a “fitness program” through which walkers can be rewarded for their effort with gift certificates to local Milton businesses after some number of miles walked. However, problems with both the goals of the incentive scheme and the sudden curtailing of university support for community-engaged research during the pandemic have thrown challenges in the way of sustained collaboration.