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Resources for Teaching About the Russia-Ukraine Crisis and for Supporting the Ukraine People

Our hearts go out to all the people in Ukraine during these frightening days. Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine has created a humanitarian crisis and puts Democracy at risk, as well as exacerbates an environmental crisis. If you are looking for resources to help people in Ukraine, check out these NPR’s “Want to Support the People in Ukraine? Here’s How You Can Help” and Global Citizen’s “20 Meaningful Ways You Can Help Ukraine.” We send our support to all the educators in Ukraine who are part of the NAAEE family, and all of the people of their country.

As educators, we can help people understand the impact of war on people and the planet, and the role democracy can play in creating a more just and sustainable future. We can also help people understand that crises like these are humanitarian crises, causing human displacement and cutting off access to basic resources and education. Below are some perspectives and resources to help educators discuss what is happening in Ukraine, as well as conflicts around the world.

  • It is hard to teach about conflicts that are in other countries. In this EdWeek article, “Why the Russia-Ukraine Crisis is Relevant to Teachers,” Sarah Schwartz explains why international relations can be hard to teach, but why it is important to do so, and especially in a way that provides multiple perspectives. These are human issues, not just governmental or military. 

    According to Richard Haas, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the crisis is an opportunity to connect something happening across the world with a young person in the United States: “In order to be an informed citizen, one needs to be globally literate. One needs to understand why the world matters, how it works, how foreign policy affects the world.” Check out curriculum resources on Model Diplomacy by the Council on Foreign Relations.  
     
  • Also, war can be a controversial topic, whether the conflict is happening near or far. Learn how to establish safe environments for students to discuss polarizing or controversial topics in this eeWEBINAR: Navigating Difficult Conversations: Creating an Environment for Social Issue Discussions Part I.
     
  • Switching to renewable energy sources will help fight climate change, no doubt, but is also important in the fight for democracy around the world. In The Guardian’s, “This is How We Defeat Putin and other Petrostate Autocrats,” Bill McKibben makes the case for moving to renewable energy now: “This is not a ‘war for oil and gas’ in the sense that too many of America’s Middle East misadventures might plausibly be described. But it is a war underwritten by oil and gas, a war whose most crucial weapon may be oil and gas, a war we can’t fully engage because we remain dependent on oil and gas.” Read the full article to understand McKibben’s perspective on how the West’s reliance on oil and gas fuels Russia’s military efforts. 

    Also mentioned in McKibben’s article, renewable energies are cheaper than ever, and—as environmental educators—we know that implementation of these technologies is important to create a sustainable future and healthier environments for all people. Search NAAEE’s eePRO platform for resources, webinars, and other educational opportunities to improve efforts to engage people of all ages in determining and implementing sustainable practices that are best for their countries and communities.
     
  • Education is a basic human right, and the social-emotional impacts of conflict have profound negative impacts on teaching and learning. “Crises lead to trauma, extensive learning loss and even other deprivation in terms of children’s health, nutrition, and safety, leading to children dropping out of school and generations missing out from schooling and skills development. Once children drop out of school or are denied opportunities for education, it is difficult to bring them back,” according to The World Bank brief, “Education in Fragile, Conflict & Violence Contexts.” Read the brief to learn more about how the World Bank works with partners and people to create inclusive and adaptable education systems in areas vulnerable to conflict, as well as provides post-crises educational services and services for displaced populations.

Please share any additional related resources, articles, or ways to help in the comments section of this post.