An Unprecedented Year

From a pandemic to economic fallout to a reckoning over race and policing in the United States, 2020 is sure to be remembered as a year of historic upheaval and change. The calendar year might be drawing to a close, but the challenges, triumphs and issues raised will shape our communities for generations to come.

Join the University of Washington and the UW Alumni Association as we reflect on the year that defied expectations.

Remembering 2020: A UW Time Capsule

Wed., Dec. 30 | 4:30 PM

"Remembering 2020" over purplized imagesStudents who participated in fall quarter’s 2020: The Course were asked to document their own experiences for a time capsule to be archived by the UW Alumni Association and shared with future generations of the UW community.

Log on for this livestream review of an extraordinary year, as Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs Ed Taylor, iSchool professor Joseph Janes and a panel of UW experts reflect on the disruptions 2020 brought to campus and the world — and the stories our community chose to memorialize.

Joining the conversation:

  • Karam Dana, associate professor in UW Bothell’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences
  • Hilary Godwin, dean of the UW School of Public Health.
  • Sharon S. Laing, assistant professor in UW Tacoma’s School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership
  • Kate Starbird, associate professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering.

Learn more

2020: The Course

"2020" in photos over an American flag

First-year students from all three campuses enrolled in this one-of-its-kind course that connected students with the UW’s top public scholars in the areas of history, sociology, education, law and environmental science. A thought-provoking series of talks, lectures and dialogues with more than 20 faculty from across the University, 2020: The Course provided students with interdisciplinary context and increased understanding for this tumultuous and chaotic time.

As part of the UW’s mission as a public university, a number of these sessions are now available for public viewing.

Create a Personal Time Capsule

Hand writing in a journal with woods in the distanceInspired by what you’ve seen? It’s not too late to create your own historical account, following these simple guidelines, using the student project as your guide.

Put pen to paper.  The survivability of electronic media is unknown, but paper has a proven archival shelf life, so whether you are capturing your thoughts with a handwritten note or typing your insights and printing it out, a hard copy is essential, preferably on archival paper.

Choose an image or object that connect with your personal story. There will be plenty of official accounts of masks, protests and mail-in ballots – and you might choose one or all of them to represent your journey, or you might choose something completely different to represent this time period. Make sure to provide written text that explains your choice and makes it your story.

For example, many of us might consider adding a photo of ourselves turning in a ballot, but the image is just an image; future historians want to know the story behind the picture. Why was this important? Was it your first time voting? Was there a political issue that you were passionate about or obstacles that you needed to overcome? Context is key. Students were encouraged to keep these reflections concise, around 500 to 750 words.

Include your own bio. Last but not least, spend a few moments of reflection on how you choose to identify yourself in 2020. We’re complicated people, with a number of names we call ourselves, be it in reference to our gender, race, sexuality, politics, family, profession and passions — to name a few. Students were asked to share 250 words about themselves.

Store it someplace safe. You don’t need to bury it in the backyard, but you should find a sturdy container to safeguard your memories.

The UW plans on opening its time capsule sometime in 2040, but feel free to set your own timeline for when you want to turn back the clock and reflect on this unprecedented year.