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Pulitzer Center Update August 20, 2021

Chicago Educators Leverage COVID Reporting to Evaluate Systemic Inequalities

This June, the University of Chicago and the Pulitzer Center co-hosted a professional development series for 50 educators that explored systemic inequalities across the globe highlighted by COVID-19. The multi-day virtual event featured a combination of presentations led by award-winning journalists and interactive workshops designed to introduce participants to methods for integrating global news and journalism skills into diverse curricula.

The series launched on June 23rd with a discussion about WBEZ’s project, Tracking the Vaccine: Eye on Equity in Chicago and Illinois, which follows COVID-19 vaccine distribution across a historically segregated city. Journalists Kristen Schorsch, Mariah Woelfel, and María Inés Zamudio discussed this community-powered project, combining explanatory, utility-based content with accountability journalism to capture the stories of communities most affected by the pandemic.

 Journalists Kristen Schorsch, Maria Zamudio, and Mariah Woelfel discuss equity around vaccine distribution.

Later, educators explored a range of educational resources developed by the Pulitzer Center’s education staff including the Journalist Toolbox, The Global Explorers Workshop, and units crafted by Pulitzer Center Teaching Fellows based in Chicago. In this interactive webinar led by Pulitzer Center education staff, attendees examined methods for using journalism skills to increase student engagement, critical thinking skills, and media literacy skills.

On June 24th, award-winning photojournalist Ziyah Gafic led a conversation focused on the challenges dislocated communities have faced during the pandemic in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Gafic walked through his project,The Game, which highlights the impact that limited access to health care and housing has had on refugees and migrants making the already treacherous journey through the region. Gafic also shared Dispatches in Exile, a photojournalism project that captures the stories of people on the move in their own words by providing migrants in the region with basic media training and a space to publish their own stories. 

Photojournalist Ziya Gafic discusses "The Game" with teachers in Chicago.

On June 28th, journalist Nick Schifrin, Foreign Affairs and Defense Correspondent for PBS NewsHour, discussed how the pandemic has centered the relationship between the government of Mainland China and its diverse territories, bolstering censorship and limiting civil liberties. Shifrin also discussed the role that China played domestically and globally in vaccine development, distribution, and diplomacy.

On the final day of the conference, journalists Abir Kopty and Lama Rabah discussed their experience contributing to the first season of the Almostajad Podcast, an independent and critical alternative to state-owned and traditional media in the Middle East and North Africa. The podcast focused on listening to people's stories through the COVID-19 crisis. In their discussion, Rabah and Kopty explored how the pandemic exacerbated issues of power, racism, mental health, economic inequality for vulnerable communities in the region. Rabah and Kopty also shared how the podcast captured stories of connection and joy in the region.

Recordings of each webinar for this conference can be found here.

Conducted virtually for the second time in 6 years, the conference represented four days of learning, reflection, and connection for educators in Chicago. Participants reported that the conference strengthened their knowledge on global issues and introduced them to new perspectives and resources to support learning in their classrooms.


navy halftone illustration of a covid virus