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2021 Summer Institute for Educators

Global and Local Inequities: Reflections of the COVID-19 Pandemic


This multi-day virtual conference for educators brings together award-winning journalists supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and digital educational resources created by Pulitzer Center and UChicago to highlight global inequalities that COVID-19 has exacerbated. From the quelling of Hong Kong’s protest movement to the healthcare crisis among undocumented migrants in Bosnia-Herzegovina and issues of governance in the Arab world, conference sessions will explore the far-reaching impacts of the global pandemic on pre-existing disparities across the world.

Featuring a combination of journalist-led presentations and interactive activities, the session will also introduce methods for integrating global news and journalism skills into diverse curricula to reinforce students’ critical thinking, creativity and communication skills. Participants will leave with the tools to incorporate new content into their classes, as well as connections to journalists working on pressing global issues. Illinois-based educators are eligible to receive CPDU credits for attendance.

Registration required: https://bit.ly/3pohVBD


Kristen Schorsch

WBEZ Chicago Reporter

Kristen Schorsch is a reporter on WBEZ’s government and politics team, where she covers Cook County and public health. Previously, she covered health care, government, crime, courts, higher education and news of the weird (think coffin parties) for Crain’s Chicago Business, the Chicago Tribune, the Daily Southtown and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Kristen has won more than a dozen local and national awards for her work. Her stories have sparked policy changes and spurred investigations.

María Inés Zamudio

WBEZ Chicago Reporter

Maria Ines Zamudio covers immigration for WBEZ. She is an award-winning investigative reporter who is now part of the race, class and communities team. Prior to joining WBEZ, she worked for American Public Media’s investigative team. She’s also worked as an investigative reporter for the Memphis Commercial Appeal and Chicago Reporter magazine.

Mariah Woelfel

WBEZ Chicago Reporter

Mariah Woelfel covers city government at WBEZ. Before joining the City Hall beat in 2021, Mariah worked as a general assignment reporter and producer at the station, where she covered the creation of and start to Illinois’ multimillion dollar recreational cannabis industry, as well as the city and state’s healthcare systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to WBEZ, Mariah worked as a reporter, producer and All Things Considered host at WVIK, an NPR member station in western Illinois.

Jaya Mukherjee

Education Coordinator, Pulitzer Center

Jaya Mukherjee is a Chicago-based coordinator for the education team at the Pulitzer Center. In her previous job, she managed creative writing programs for Chicago Public School students, focusing on short-form memoir and novel-length fiction. She has worked in education for ten years, beginning her career as a special education teacher in Compton, California. Jaya holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University, a M.Phil from Trinity College Dublin in Film Theory, and a MA in Special Education from Loyola Marymount University.

Ziyah Gafic

Freelance Photojournalist

Ziyah Gafic is an award-winning photojournalist and videographer based in Sarajevo, focusing on societies locked in a perpetual cycle of violence and Muslim communities around the world. He covered major stories in over 50 countries. Gafic’s work received many prestigious awards, such as multiple honors at World Press Photo, Grand Prix Discovery of the Year at Les Rencontres d’Arles, a Hasselblad Masters Award, the City of Perpignan Award for Young Reporters at Visa pour l’Image, Photo District News, the Getty Images grant for editorial photography, TED fellowship, Prince Claus grant, and the Magnum Emergency fund grant. His work is regularly published in leading international publications. Gafic authored several monographs, including Troubled Islam – short stories from troubled societies, Quest for Identity, and the most recent, Heartland.

Nick Schifrin

PBS Newshour Special Correspondent

Nick Schifrin is PBS NewsHour‘s foreign affairs and defense correspondent. He leads NewsHour‘s foreign reporting and has created week-long, in-depth series for NewsHour from China, Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Cuba, Mexico, and the Baltics. The series “Inside Putin’s Russia” won a 2018 Peabody Award. Prior to PBS, Schifrin was Al Jazeera America‘s Middle East correspondent. Before that, he was a correspondent for ABC News, based in Afghanistan and Pakistan for four years.

Abir Kopty

Journalist & Writer

Abir Kopty, a Palestinian journalist and writer based in Berlin, is the senior editor and host of Almostajad. She holds an MA in Political Communication from City University, London, and is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Media and Communication Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. She contributes political analysis to media outlets such as Middle East Eye and TRT, and hosted in 2018 “Eib”, an audio podcast about motherhood and parenting produced by Sowt Podcasting.

Lama Rabah

Podcaster, Editor & Journalist

Lama Rabah, a podcaster, editor and journalist based in Palestine, is currently a full-time podcast producer at Thmanyah, a Saudi-based publishing platform. Lama holds an MA in multimedia journalism from the University of Oregon, and a BA in radio and TV broadcast from Birzeit University. She previously worked as a senior producer at Sowt Podcasts, and co-hosted the monthly podcast and live show “Radio No Frequency”. Her main interest is experimenting with audio storytelling, political satire, and performance.


NOTE: Times listed are all in Central Time.


9:45-10:00 AM   Introduction

10:00-11:30 AM   WBEZ Chicago and Vaccine Equity in Chicago”

Kristen Schorsch (WBEZ Chicago)
María Inés Zamudio (WBEZ Chicago)
Mariah Woelfel (WBEZ Chicago)

Join contributors Kristen Schorsch, Mariah Woelfel, and María Inés Zamudio in a discussion of WBEZ’s project, Tracking the Vaccine: Eye on Equity in Chicago and Illinois, which follows COVID-19 vaccine distribution across a historically segregated city. The project explores whether the groups that were disproportionately hit by the contagion end up receiving their share. This community-powered project combines explanatory, utility-based content with accountability journalism to report on vaccines and vaccine distribution in the Chicago communities that have been most hurt by the pandemic, centering community voices throughout the reporting.

11:30-12:00 PM   Educator Small Groups

12:00-1:00 PM   Lunch Break

1:00-2:30 PM   “Leveraging Journalism Skills and COVID-19 Reporting in the Classroom”

Jaya Mukherjee (Pulitzer Staff)

In this interactive session, educators will explore: 1) The Journalist’s Toolbox, a series of instructional videos and accompanying lesson plans that connect students to professional journalists for advice on how to identify, research, and communicate underreported stories. Explore descriptive writing strategies with Tristan McConnell, interview techniques with Natasha S. Alford, and photojournalism with Pablo Albarenga and Melissa Bunni Elian. The toolbox videos and lessons then guide students in practicing these skills in their own homes and neighborhoods; 2) A selection of spring 2021 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellow units designed and implemented by Chicago Public Schools teachers analyzing the intersection of justice, journalism, and civic action. We’ll review a number of units that connect Pulitzer-supported COVID-19 reporting as a lens to grapple with larger inequities in Chicago. After a Q&A about these resources, participants will have a chance to connect with one another to network and brainstorm challenges and opportunities they anticipate for next school year. Through guided exercises and open discussion, participants will also work together to identify opportunities for integrating resources shared during the session.

2:30-2:40 PM  Coffee Break

2:40-3:15 PM Educator Small Groups


4:30-6:00 PM   “Discussing “The Game” – Migrants and Refugees Face Peril in Bosnia-Herzegovina”

Ziyah Gafic (Freelance Photojournalist)

Join journalist Ziyah Gafic for a conversation centered around the challenges migrants and refugees face in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the pandemic in his Pulitzer Center-supported photojournalism project, The Game. Gafic’s reporting for National Geographic examines how COVID-19 has made the already treacherous journey most migrants and refugees face even more difficult. Migrants face extremely limited access to health care and housing as well as mounting tensions with local populations. Gafic will discuss how the pandemic has amplified these conflicts for dislocated communities.


4:30-6:00 PM   “COVID Crossroads: The Pandemic’s Impact on Mainland China, Hong Kong and Beyond”

Nick Schifrin (PBS Newshour)

Join journalist Nick Schifrin for a conversation exploring the nuanced impact of COVID-19 in China, Hong Kong, and beyond. Schifrin will discuss how the pandemic has centered the relationship of the government of Mainland China and its diverse territories, bolstering censorship and limiting civil liberties. The enactment of the controversial National Security Law in Hong Kong serves as an example of politics in one of China’s Special Administrative Regions colliding with the COVID-19 pandemic.  Schifrin will also discuss the role that China has played  domestically and globally in vaccine development, distribution, and diplomacy.


4:30-6:00 PM   Ear to the Ground: Podcasting the Pandemic in the Middle East & North Africa”

Abir Kopty (Almostajad Podcast)
Lama Rabah (Almostajad Podcast)

Join journalists Abir Kopty and Lama Rabah for a conversation about the Almostajad podcast, an independent and critical alternative to state-owned and traditional media in the Middle East and North Africa. The podcast was produced by Sowt podcasting and a team of independent media companies in the region. In its first season, Almostajad focused on listening to people’s stories through the COVID-19 crisis. Rabah and Kopty will explore how the pandemic exacerbated systemic issues of power, control, racism, mental health, economic inequality, and vulnerable communities in the Middle East and North Africa.

The 2021 Summer Institute for Educators is co-sponsored by the University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies, Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies, and Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and it is presented in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. It is made possible through generous support from the Title VI National Resource Center grants from the US Department of Education.