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Pulitzer Center Update September 14, 2015

This Week: Build Lessons With Us

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Our new Lesson Builder is built for use on computers, tablets and phones.


This week, we'd like to introduce you to our Lesson Builder, a digital tool and a supporting community of educators, that makes creating and sharing lesson plans around Pulitzer Center reporting easy.

Starting with a search engine that's been engineered to be most useful to teachers, you can find articles, videos, and photos from among our hundreds of reporting projects. Use broad search terms like "climate change" to see a range of reporting on that issue, or try more specific topics like "Rana Plaza collapse" or "Syrian refugee crisis" and filter by "video" or "article" to sharpen your focus and find the right media type.

Once you've found what you need, you can add an outline and provide questions for students to answer. It's a simple process that was designed for speed and flexibility. Teachers who'd like a jump-start or are looking for ideas can browse model lessons created in-house—and our community of educators has written dozens more.

Many thanks to our partners at IDFive for helping us design this terrific new tool.


The 2013-2014 protests in Ukraine ushered in a government whose mandate is to remake Ukraine in the European image. "What it has to work with is a war with Russia in the east, an economy in shreds, entrenched oligarchs, an increasingly vocal conservative nationalist minority, and law enforcement so thoroughly discredited that it couldn't enforce anything if it tried," writes Pulitzer Center grantee Masha Gessen in Foreign Policy.

The government has decided to start with police reform, and Masha and photojournalist Misha Friedman document the Herculean struggles of 36-year-old Eka Zguladze-Glucksmann, the former first deputy interior minister of Georgia who has been granted Ukrainian citizenship, given the title of first deputy interior minister and tasked with creating a new police force under nearly impossible circumstances.

Masha is an astute observer of Russia and Ukraine. Her insight into the origins and nature of police corruption in post-Soviet Ukraine is a thoughtful study of why weak institutions consistently fail despite the best efforts of reformers.

"If Ukraine's militsiya (the corrupt Soviet-era police) could be magically replaced by a Western-style police, the country's dream of becoming a European state could move into reach," she writes. "For the engineers of Ukraine's police reform, this is the dream. For its critics, the idea that a combination of political will, international donations, and popular support could conjure a fundamentally new institution is a travesty of reform."


The 2014 World Cup, hosted by Brazil, thrilled the world but left many Brazilians questioning why the country had spent millions on soccer stadiums in the rainforest while neglecting much needed infrastructure upgrades in its overcrowded favelas. The same questions are being asked again as the 2016 Olympics approach amid daily reports of corruption and cost overruns.

"Organizers and politicians in Rio de Janeiro are struggling to keep the sinking Olympic ship afloat, but the first commitments being thrown overboard are those that could benefit the greater public most, like promises to upgrade sewage systems and clean up waterways that lead to beaches, lagoons, and bays," writes Pulitzer Center grantee Matthew Neiderhauser in The Atlantic's CityLab. "Many parallels can be drawn to the handling of the World Cup in Brazil last summer, where stadiums that enriched private interests were completed while other public infrastructure upgrades for host cities were left unfinished."

Matthew and co-grantee John Fitzgerald were in Rio as part of their Megacity Initiative, a new media venture that looks at sustainable development in burgeoning urban centers around the world.

Until next week,

Tom Hundley
Senior Editor