In Ukraine war, Red Cross defends neutrality against critics

In Ukraine war, Red Cross defends neutrality against critics

For more than 150 years, the Red Cross has remained neutral in wars. Today, it still defends that stance against critics as Russia ravages Ukraine. A man presses paper with a red cross on it against the windshield of a bus as civilians are evacuated from Irpin, on the...

For many people, the war in Ukraine seems one of the latest litmus tests of ideological purity: One side is good, the other side bad. So it is with politics in many countries: One side is right, the other wrong. Nowadays it can be difficult, especially for youth, to understand why diplomats speak to all sides in an armed conflict, or why the Red Cross would remain neutral in Ukraine. In their story, Katharine Lake Berz and Daneese Rao, fellows at the University of Toronto, examine why the 159-year-old Red Cross, true to tradition, has refused to condemn Russia’s invasion so it can offer aid to victims on all sides of the conflict. It’s a valuable lesson for a world hungry for harmony.

Exercise: Have your students debate this resolution: “The Red Cross should condemn Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.”

Decoder: What happens if you buy a carbon credit?

Decoder: What happens if you buy a carbon credit?

I am interested in carbon credits — permits that offset greenhouse emissions. So I bought a tonne of carbon. Here’s what I learned. (Photo courtesy of Cory Willis of Willis Farms, Inc. in Tennessee, United States) Anyone with a credit card and the inclination...

Climate change is an existential challenge that resonates particularly strongly with young people, but much of the debate around how to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius remains abstract. Carbon credits are considered part of the solution, but just what is a carbon credit? Monica Kidd, a Global Journalism Fellow at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health, asked herself that same question, but instead of simply consulting a text book, she went out and bought a tonne of carbon for $15 and then listened to the farmer who made the sale explain how it works and why carbon credits are not a silver bullet in the climate fight. Understanding the complexities of problems is the sine qua non to pinpointing solutions.

Exercise: Break students into groups and ask each group to buy a tonne of carbon and then explain how they have contributed to the fight against global warming and why it is not enough.

At-home learning offers glimmer of hope to Afghan girls

At-home learning offers glimmer of hope to Afghan girls

The Taliban have barred girls from schools in Afghanistan. So some of them gather secretly in homes in Kabul, drawn together by a former teacher. Hassan Adib leads a discussion of “Memories of a translator” by Mohhamad Qazi in Kabul, April 2022. (Photo by...

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan means millions of girls cannot attend school. Many young people outside of the country know this, but it is difficult for them to conceive just what this means for a young Afghan girl their age. In his story, Jalal Nazari, an Afghan now living in Canada where he is a Global Journalism Fellow at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health, takes us inside Kabul homes, where about 30 teenage girls meet secretly twice a month to improve their reading and writing skills. To hear the girls and their teacher speak adds a highly personal dimension to a conflict that for many young people remains distant and abstract. The courage they show in the face of Taliban strictures is a reminder to young people everywhere that education is a privilege not to be taken lightly.

Exercise: Ask your students to interview their parents, asking them why education is important, and then to write an essay quoting their parents and adding their own thoughts.

University of Toronto Journalism Fellows