Growing up, there was an unspoken absence in Zainib Abdullah's life. In Richmond Hill, Ontario, far from the home her family left in Iraq, she pieced together the story of her uncle. He had been unjustly arrested and disappeared years earlier by Saddam Hussein's government, without a trial or a chance to say goodbye to his loved ones. Now she puts pen to paper, writing letters on behalf of people unfairly imprisoned around the world.
Kids connect with characters who look like them, even if those characters are sidelined. But during playtime, your kid is the casting director. A toy they can identify with makes them the hero of their own story, and could overcome what we call 'activist's block,' the self-diminishing excuse we hear often: "I'm just one person. What can I do?"
Professor Jeremy Bailenson has been researching the neurological and psychological impact of virtual reality for 15 years at Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab. Visual, auditory and dynamic spatial cues mimic real-life responses in the brain; he's found that the immersive quality of this technology leaves an indelible mark on users in a way that still images don't.
Food demands on our planet will double by 2050, when the population is set to reach 9.7 billion. With the global dinner table getting crowded, and the planet running out of arable land, it's going to take some extreme gardening to keep everyone fed. These breakthroughs could herald the future of food production.
From Asia to South America, insects have long appeared on the menu in many cultures. But what's truly epic about the edible bug trend is its potential to not only provide a healthy source of food, but also boost incomes among people in developing countries who could never afford chicken or beef from a grocery store.
It's hard to match the image of wanton recklessness with the soft-spoken, thoughtful 18-year-old Lucas we talked to recently. He has transformed, thanks to a service learning program that's teaching young convicts -- including hardened gang members -- about global issues, social justice and community activism.
TRIGGER WARNING: On the day of her terrible assault, Brynn Chleirich's nine-year-old twins were the first to come home and see their mom with a black eye. Her voice cracks remembering the fear and pain in their faces as they tried to make sense of what had happened. "Are there bad people in our neighbourhood, mommy?" one asked, terrified.
The idea of the impact centre is global. The Hub, which began in London, UK in 2005, is part of a network of 77 such organizations, with 11,000 socially-conscious members, in cities around the world. But to incubate social change, impact centres offer a lot more than just a place to plug in your laptop.
Our world doesn't look much like the ones envisioned in sci-fi flicks like Star Trek or Back to the Future, let alone the latest installment of Star Wars. Kids aren't buzzing around on flying skateboards, and we aren't dueling with light sabers. But who needs movies when real-world innovations are way cooler -- especially the ones poised to radically transform humanity's eco footprint.
Over the past 15 years, Tanzania has made a concerted effort to immunize its children -- and has achieved a remarkable vaccination rate of almost 90 per cent. That's not good enough for the government and health organizations, though. They want to get as close to 100 per cent as possible. But figuring out which children have been missed is a huge challenge in a country where many families still live nomadic lives in remote areas. Enter Seattle health organization PATH and Canada's own Mohawk College, in Hamilton, Ont. They're helping out, not with more vaccines or nurses, but a database.
A social impact bond provides a novel way for governments to tackle issues from unemployment to the environment by leveraging the power of private capital. Investors buy into a project just as they might a business start-up. The model is a powerful tool for increasing impact, forcing organizations engaged in social programs to measure their outcomes.
When Craig visited Dadaab, Kenya, four years ago and met Ali, he witnessed hundreds of families lined along the road to the world's largest refugee camp. Most weren't fleeing violence, they were fleeing the weather. As climate change advances, disasters like the drought that ravaged East Africa in 2011 are becoming more frequent and severe.
Whether it's a home-based mom-and-pop craft business, or a large multinational corporation, B Corp certification helps build better businesses, and helps caring consumers make ethical choices. This is an important edge in a marketplace where numerous studies show more consumers want to give their dollars to businesses that give back to society.
Innovative business approaches, like social enterprise and public-private partnerships, hold the key to solving some of the trickiest global health challenges. Business often gets a bad rap -- especially in the area of high-profit pharmaceuticals. But if there's one thing we've seen time and again, it's that business models can offer the most effective and sustainable solution to global social challenges.
Of all the developments we have read about in the Syrian tragedy, the rising tide of child labour is one of the more concerning. We've worked on the issue of child labour for two decades, interviewing hundreds of too-young workers and learning about the long-term challenges they will face without an education. These kids want to help ease the burden poverty for their families now, but it will cost the Syrian people even more in poverty in the years to come. If there are no income opportunities for refugee families, we won't break the cycle of child labour.
Our culture has developed a powerful myth about why we succeed or fail in life. Disproving what most believe, numerous neuroscience studies out of institutions like Harvard University's Centre for the Developing Child show that strong, resilient brains are not born, they're built. The environment around us and every experience influences brain growth and our ability to cope with stress as adults. That which does not kill us, can damage us for life. It's time to put away the old myths of resiliency and character and learn what it really takes to build a healthy brain.
"Research shows the earlier and longer youth spend in the system, the worse the outcomes are," says Peter Leone, a professor at the University of Maryland who has studied juvenile justice measures around the world for more than 20 years. It costs approximately $100,000 a year to incarcerate one young person in Canada. If that individual becomes a hardened life-long criminal, the amount will exceed a staggering $2 million, according to a Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.
The traditional purpose of business is to increase shareholder value. Yet companies large and small are increasingly proving they can make a profit and help solve a systemic social problems by embedding this mission into their business strategy. It's the evolution of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Simon Kuzents, the economist who developed the GDP measurement, warned it was not a good meter stick for national well-being. Still, that's exactly how the GDP has been used globally since the 1940s. GDP is the total value of all the goods and services a country produces in a year. So, creating jobs and producing equipment to clean up an oil spill, for example, adds to the GDP. As does producing guns and bombs for war. GDP is blind to factors like unemployment, living conditions and environmental degradation. Make sense? Not really. Whether it's genuine progress, national happiness, or a system that blends the best of both, the global community must agree on a more holistic way to measure our nations' progress that doesn't just count the money we make.