What is the “New Normal”?

One of the earliest uses of the term the “new normal” comes from American inventor Henry A. Wise Wood, who, following World War I, stated: “To consider the problems before us we must divide our epoch into three periods, that of war, that of transition, that of the new normal.”

This terminology has repeatedly been used after major global events since then, from the World Trade Center attacks, to the 2008 financial crash, to local events like the 2013 southern Alberta flood and the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire. All of these disruptions have changed the way we interact, travel, work, and learn.

We do recognize that the word “normal” is a subjective term that has a negative connotation in certain use cases. While some see it in terms of predictability and routine, others use it as a comparative tool to marginalize specific groups.

In the context of the Cyber Summit, we use the term “new normal” to describe how the global community, as a whole, is adjusting to the reality that follows a catastrophic event like COVID-19. Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen a “new normal” for society take shape with the rapid acceleration of digital technologies used in remote learning and working.

In a podcast discussing COVID-19 and “the new normal,” Corey Hogan, Interim Vice-President (Communications) at the University of Calgary, stated: “It has changed everything about how we do everything. There’s this school of thought that COVID has changed the way we are going to work forever.” We agree with that statement.

The 2020 Cyber Summit looked at “what’s next” and the transition following the COVID-19 pandemic. This upcoming Summit will explore the “new normal,” and how it will adjust our world — for everyone, equally — moving forward.

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