Cannabis is a ‘Schedule 1’ drug, meaning that it is thought to have no therapeutical value, nor cannot be lawfully possessed or prescribed.
However, due to the impact of a number of high-profile cases, such as those of Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, who both suffer from severe epilepsy, the government has decided to review the legality of medicinal cannabis in the UK.
This decision was reached by home secretary, Sajid Javid, who stated: “if the review identifies significant medical benefits, then we do intend to change the rules”.
Alfie Dingley, a 6 year old from Warwickshire (West Midlands), was recently issued with a license to receive cannabis-based drugs. Alfie suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, which causes him to experience around 150 seizures a month. After travelling to the Netherlands, one of the European countries in which cannabis is legal, the conditions of Alfie’s epilepsy improved, due to his intake of cannabis oil over there. Subsequent to this, Alfie experienced 300 days without any seizures.
Another prime example was that of Billy Caldwell, a 12 year old boy from Country Tyrone (Northern Ireland), another sufferer of severe epilepsy. Due to a medical emergency, Billy was granted a 20-day license to take cannabis-based drugs. Prior to this, the cannabis Billy and his family had had with them was confiscated at Heathrow Airport, London.
Home secretary Javid, however, is adamant that cannabis will “remain banned for recreational use”, and that potentially legalising cannabis for medicinal use will not be the first step to legalising it for other purposes.
There were 136,352 recorded drug offences in England and Wales (2016/17), most of which were due to possession of cannabis. Such statistics lead many to believe that the medicinal legalisation will lead to further allowances in the weed industry.
Diane Abbott, shadow home secretatary says that reviewing the legalisation of medicinal cannabis is a process “long overdue”.
20,000 children in the UK do not respond to medication prescribed by the NHS (National Health Service).
There are ongoing discussions about whether the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes will be permitted in the UK, as it already is countries such as Israel, Romania and Macedonia (only in severe cases).
In a world ravaged by new technology, one must wonder what will become of the discipline of History in our education systems: will millennials praise the growth of mankind, or will we keep on teaching our children that the wonders of their own Nations overcome those of the world?
From ever since children start school, from such a young age as five or six, they are taught the History of their own country, from the first gregarious communities to occupy the territory up until modern History. Yet, the core points of every History programme remain the same: “how did we affect the world?”, “How did we, as a society, evolved?”, “What happened to us?”
As much as one argues that national identity is something primary to every men or woman, globalization is a phenomena not to be ignored, and the Global Village, anchored on the Internet, is the new Nation that gathers all with access to the World Wide Web. However, world education leaders seem to purposely overlook the facts, and insist on leaving it in the hands of the younger to discover that there is a world out there, with History as rich as their own.
For a better understanding of this issue, let us point out two education systems that differ when it comes to relating national History and World History, and offer a possibility to “cover” the plot of World History in students’ curricula.
On the one hand, in England, a new subject programme was implemented in 2014, named “National Curriculum”, specifying what British students must study and what they should be learning at different ages. Even though the History programme refers the need to “gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain’s past and that of the wider world”1, students must focus their attention on British History: local history, the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in Britain, Britain and the wider world in Tudor times, Victorian Britain and Britain since 1930.
In Portugal, on the other hand, secondary school is divided in five areas of interest, each with specific compulsory subjects. The History programme2 relies on modules that will first provide the student with political, economic, and social context for every Age, and then introduce the country’s situation given said context. This programme’s main pretence is for the student to “develop a sense of self-criticism, the ability to accept different opinions and to recognise the existence of various working modules of society.”3 Yet, the issue remains: although Portuguese students have a clear image of what Europe as a whole has lived since the invention of Democracy, the rest of the world is a mystery until the 16th century. And even then, History programmes pursue a European-centred perspective.
These self-centred perspectives result, as Europe well knows, in a strong sense of nationalism, in an honest belief that our home country is the best of the entire world, this feeling often being expressed as arrogance and suspicion towards foreigners. It was this feeling of superiority that led to the advent of two world wars that left nothing behind but grieve and destruction.
The question now is how to prevent such feelings from forming? Investigators Robert Bain and Tamara Shreiner from Michigan University claim the answer to these concerns relies
on the creation of a new subject, a World History subject. In the USA, this is a high school subject, growing more and more popular every year. However, the teaching in these classes still goes much on a “Hollywood-based” view of History, opposing to the purest form of historicism Education Ministers should provide.
According to the authors, in order to make sure that World History is about the whole world, and not just the Western part, it is necessary to divide the subject in 4 independent structural patterns that, together, provide students with the most information about World History. They are: “World Civilization Plus”, which offers an expanded version of a familiar narrative that focuses on the development of civilization in the West, specifically Europe; “Social Studies World History”, which offers a multidisciplinary approach to broad themes such as “Time, Continuity, and Change,” but which still does not challenge the “Europe as the Center of the World Model”; “Geographic/Regional World History”, which considers change over time in differing regions and sometimes braids these strands together in separate courses on Africa, East Asia, South Asia, or Latin America in addition to a broadly based world history course; and “Global World History”, which the authors describe as a synthesis of “trans-regional and civilizational studies” that requires students to “look at and across regions of the world.”4
It is fair to wonder whether teaching such a subject is enough to erase the distrustful feelings that mandated international interpersonal relationships over the past few millennia. Ever since Ancient Greece, Xenophon argued that closed societies were better than open societies. Discussion on this topic has not evolved much since 500 B.C. However, it is also fair to argue that World History would help young students to understand other cultural options and thus, to more easily accept different views of the world.
This is not an easy discussion. There are numerous arguments in favour and against a subject such as World History. Apart from those already presented, one might ask how to ensure impartiality from those talking of History, given that there are always two sides to the same story. Even if we argue that World History should always be presented through both perspectives, the winning and the loosing, we are still left with the natural inability of Men to not take sides. These are questions we are far from answering with all due certainty.
The examples to prove this phenomena are more than well-documented. If a British student were to travel across the Ocean and discuss British History with fellow North-American students, he would be confronted with a certain difficulty, since what Americans call the “Independence War” is known to the British as the “Colonial Insurgence”. Moving Easter, the Second World War was known as the “Great Patriotic War” in soviet countries for many years.
However important National History might be in building a person’s character, providing them with knowledge that derives directly from their ancestor’s way of life it is fair to wonder how can anyone be expected to discuss, open-minded, freely, about subjects such as History, if they were never given the chance to study, in school, under an advisor and among their peers, the existence of other perspectives, different from their own?
The answer is, they cannot. That is why we advocate a European History subject, directed mostly to high schoolers. Hopefully, the understanding of Europe’s historical evolution as a highly interactive block, with more in common than in difference, will reinforce the bond that unites all of Europe under the same flag of peace and development for all. Consequently, it would diminish the nationalistic and xenophobic feelings that are spreading throughout Europe, today, as it would bring closer the various nations that form the Old World, as a single world, made of different opinions, based on discussion and the well-being of its population.
About the author
Leonor Frade (18) participated in the “My Europe” Workshop in Lisbon in 2014. She has since then been a member of the working group on Gender Equality and now writes for the Education group. She is a Law student and enjoys discussions about politics, education, employment, science and philosophy. She presents the result of those discussions in short essays and hopes you will enjoy them.
1 – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-historyprogrammes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-history-programmes-of-study, on december 5th 2017
2 – http://www.dge.mec.pt/sites/default/files/Secundario/Documentos/Documentos_Disciplinas_ novo/Curso_Linguas_e_Humanidades/historia_a_10_11_12.pdf, on december 5th 2017
3 – http://www.dge.mec.pt/sites/default/files/Secundario/Documentos/Documentos_Disciplinas_ novo/Curso_Linguas_e_Humanidades/historia_a_10_11_12.pdf, on december 5th 2017
4 – Robert B. Bain and Tamara L. Shreiner, “Issues and Options in Creating a National Assessment in World History,” History Teacher 38:2 (February 2005), 241–72
What will be the big challenges regarding climate-change refugees in Europe in the next 50 years?
Nowadays, climate change is one of the biggest problems the world must face. What was considered as an incremental issue two decades ago, is already starting to show its numerous negative effects both on nature and on society. The question remains if we will be able to stop it in time and what the consequences will be for Europe if we don’t.
Nowadays, climate change is one of the biggest problems the world must face.
Temperatures around the globe have been rising for decades thanks to our industrialized society and partly thanks to our recklessness when it comes to using our resources. Entire forests have been cut down, seas and oceans polluted and species erased. None of these, however, come even close to the dangerous effects of the polar ice caps melting. Not only will that have a tremendous impact on wildlife and ocean levels, but it will also cause the ocean-levels to rise. This in turn will make huge parts of our planet uninhabitable land. Cities, such as New York, Tokyo or even Amsterdam might become underwater relics in the not-so-distant future. All of this will become fact, should we not stop it while still possible.
Furthermore, should we not succeed in convincing our leaders and people that the world is really in danger and that destruction is inevitable – there will be significant consequences for the world and for Europe specifically. Our continent will be facing serious difficulties thanks to its good geographical position with the other, poorer, continents. Coastal cities disappearing will be only one of the obstacles we will be facing. Citizens of poorer countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, where even now wars are being held over water and inhabitable land, will tend to migrate to Europe in the same manner as political refugees are coming now. The only difference – wars end and their effects are reversible whereas the consequences of climate change are irreversible. Our already crowded land will become even more crowded, which resultantly will make people compete increasingly for jobs. Owing to all those factors, extreme political ideologies will make their ways back into our society and hate, racism, intolerance will become present. In turn this could lead to a rebellion of the oppressed minorities and result in a war.
The solution to all these problems lies within our own hands, change needs to happen and it needs to be soon.
The solution to all these problems lies within our own hands, change needs to happen and it needs to be soon. Difficult as it may sound, it is fairly simple. First, we need to think for ourselves on the question whether we want big money and financial interests to influence our choice and our thinking or decades worth of scientific research and proof. Second, we need to make sure we elect people who think like us, who are not controlled by personal interests or corporations. Third, we must stand united against the threat of climate change by helping protect the environment, helping people who live in affected areas, protesting corrupt politicians and companies who pollute the environment on purpose for their own personal gain. If we manage to do all these baby steps, and every one of us stands together, we can indeed make Europe, our continent, our country a great place to live for decades to come and live the life we want, without fear of not ever being able to visit a certain city or even an entire country.
As a conclusion, I think combating climate change should be both a personal and public priority. Even though it needs to start as small steps made by us, it should end up as steps in the right direction by our governments and the EU, to truly protect us from experiencing this horrifying picture and in order to see a better Europe in 50 years than the one we have now.
About the author:
Adrian Murat (17) took part in the My Europe Workshop in Sofia on 28-29 November 2016 and won the second prize of the writing competition.
What will be the big challenges regarding climate-change refugees in Europe in the next 50 years?
The topic about the refugees has always been and will be a burning problem. And, we can say that the rising number of climate-change refugees is one of the most important issues facing our society nowadays. We live in such an age where many people are free to choose a better way of living. Yet, some are forced to make the decision to leave their homes due to political clashes. “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of shark” (Warsan Shire, 2011) – by ignoring the trend of the fleeing refugees, the world leaders have now allowed one of the largest global humanitarian crisis to unfold. Nevertheless, the situation can be kept under control by taking actions.
Let us take a look at the extreme weather events such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes that are quite common and recurring. Climate change worsens the consequences of those events and it should not be a surprise that people strive to inhabit areas with a pleasant and temperate climate. People are suffering and have no other choice, but to leave their homes. The economies of the countries destroyed are extremely unstable and the population is more prone to fleeing. Every year around the globe millions of people are forced to move due to this major reason.Furthermore, large segments of the population deciding to migrate are the ones with higher standard of living. Fleeing is inevitable; however the world leaders should find ways to solve the world refugee crisis. For instance, they should aim to provide the basic essentials for the suffering – for example a standard apartment meeting the basic human needs such as hot water and food.
According to the UNHCR, the people, who are forced to move, need some form of international protection since their own governments fail to keep them safe.
The refugee issue is painful to society these days – many people around the globe think that they are a “nuisance”. Not many people realize that all these refugees are actually one of us and that they are forced to leave their countries.According to recent forecasts, the number of those likely to relocate because of the climate changes is 350 million by 2050, compared to 65.3 million in 2016. This may lead to building walls instead of opening the market between the nations. Unfortunately, most people do not approve of migration. Yet, helping the refugees requires a clear definition of the matter before taking any steps since many people do not indeed know what a climate-change refugee is facing. On the one hand, refugees are people left homeless, who are looking for a better way of living. On the other hand, in modern society’s eyes they are a nuisance, which may destroy their established world. Yet, not everyone is humane enough to face the reality and do something about the refugee issue instead of isolating them and treating them as criminals. There are many ways to integrate them into our local communities. For instance, a solution could be finding job places for them, incorporating them into local activities and dividing them out per capita in every city in the country. The result would be that no one would feel different, rejected and intimidated.
According to recent forecasts, the number of those likely to relocate because of the climate changes is 350 million by 2050, compared to 65.3 million in 2016.
We live in the 21st century and the standard of living is supposed to get better and better. With the increasing number of extreme weather and political events, a concern of the international community about the consequences of migration is also growing. Around 1,700 refugees died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in the period between January and April 2015. According to the UNHCR, the people, who are forced to move, need some form of international protection since their own governments fail to keep them safe. Hence, the attention is rising to the pledges such as countries like Norway or Switzerland are trying to find a better way of protection for climate change affected people. For example, Norway joined a special recognition procedure in 2005, which includes approval of eligibility of foreign qualifications provided with applications for jobs or studies. It is an attempt to integrate the refugees in the day-to-day life.
To sum up, refugees are people with a decent opportunity for a better life. The foreign governments play an important role in helping them. Unfortunately, the way all of them are treated is not the one they deserve to be. People can find many ways to make their stay more pleasant. Each of them is trying to remain alive and they are looking for a safer place where they will not be mistreated. A couple of countries have already thought of solutions to the refugees’ crisis and so can the others. And the more humane people are, the happier their lives will be.
About the author:
Zhaklin Dimitrova Yanakieva (17) took part in the My Europe Workshop in Sofia on 28-29 November 2016 and won the first prize of the writing competition.
La victoria de Donald Trump ha generado muchas reacciones en las capitales europeas, desde la sorpresa, pasando por la alegría de algunos, hasta el estupor. Muchos han sido también los análisis y las explicaciones que han intentado que comprendamos mejor un resultado que no era el esperado, y sobre el que las encuestas han fallado estrepitosamente. Para los europeos es difícil entender los movimientos y los cambios que se están produciendo en la sociedad estadounidense. Se ha hablado de raza, de sexo, de edad, de clase social y de distribución geográfica para intentar explicar esta victoria. De todas ellas, el análisis más interesante es el relacionado con la globalización.
Los estadounidenses blancos de clase media y trabajadora han sido muy golpeados por la Gran Recesión. La deslocalización de las grandes industrias, que se han asentado en mercados donde los precios son más competitivos, ha dejado a una masa de trabajadores en paro y sin expectativas de futuro.
Muchos de estos trabajadores recelan de las políticas aperturistas y tolerantes de Barack Obama. Se oponen a la inmigración y a la acogida de refugiados por miedo a perder sus trabajos, y se agarran a un sentimiento nacionalista para reafirmar sus convicciones. Sienten además un profundo rencor contra las élites económicas del país, a las que culpan de su situación.
Este análisis también puede relacionarse con la victoria del Brexit en el Reino Unido, un resultado asimismo inesperado. El mensaje es sencillo: “retomemos el control” clamaba Boris Johnson en los debates previos al referéndum. “Construyamos un muro, hagamos a América grande de nuevo” afirmaba Donald Trump sin tapujos. “Votadme, no tenéis nada que perder”. Sin entrar a valorar lo histriónico y polémico de su persona, Trump ha conseguido representar ese resentimiento contra el establishment. Y también ha despertado las esperanzas de estos votantes que, en efecto, pueden llegar a sentir que no tienen nada que perder, que el sistema no tiene nada más que ofrecerles.
Los recelos sobre la globalización son legítimos. Lo hemos visto en Europa en los últimos meses, con la firme posición que ha mostrado la región de Valonia en las negociaciones del tratado de libre comercio con Canadá, o las manifestaciones que se han visto por toda Europa en contra del TTIP. Los efectos que pueden tener estos tratados sobre las condiciones laborales de los trabajadores europeos o sobre sus consecuencias medioambientales son cuestiones que deben estar presentes en el debate. No obstante, el auge de la xenofobia o el cierre de fronteras no van a solucionar estos problemas, sino más bien los agravarán. El cambio climático, por ejemplo, sólo se puede combatir si los Estados cooperan, si comparten objetivos, si tienen una visión global del problema. El aislacionismo y el odio no pueden ser la salida.
El resultado de las elecciones estadounidenses, junto con la futura salida del Reino Unido de la UE y otros ejemplos, como las elecciones presidenciales austriacas, confirman el vaticinio de muchos expertos. Nos estamos adentrando en un nuevo clash cultural, que tiene como protagonista a la globalización y a sus consecuencias. Se ha creado un nuevo conflicto ideológico a ambos lados del Atlántico, el que enfrenta por un lado a los defensores de sociedades abiertas al mundo con aquellos que propugnan sociedades cerradas, proteccionistas y en muchos casos contrarias a la diversidad cultural. Es en este segundo bando donde se encuentra Donald Trump, y su nacionalismo populista.
¿Qué puede hacer la Unión europea ante este nuevo escenario? Para empezar reafirmar su voluntad de integración. Los líderes europeos deben defender propuestas audaces y realistas que profundicen la integración en materias como la defensa, la lucha contra el cambio climático, la política exterior o la creación de oportunidades para los jóvenes. Y deben tener presentes ahora más que nunca los valores fundamentales de la Unión. El proyecto europeo siempre se basó en la tolerancia, la solidaridad y el respeto a las diferencias culturales. La crisis de refugiados ha puesto en cuestión estos valores. Las sociedades europeas deben ser capaces de progresar en su integración, y de aprovechar las ventajas de la globalización, sin que esto suponga un aumento de la intolerancia o el odio, o una desprotección de sus clases trabajadoras.
El reto es enorme, y para superarlo serán necesarias altas dosis de habilidad política y de convicción. El discurso populista y xenófobo debe ser combatido con ideas, propuestas y a través de un debate cargado de contenido ético.
Los populistas se han cobrado ya dos importantísimas victorias, y este año pueden consolidar su triunfo en las elecciones presidenciales francesas. No hemos sido capaces de percibir los peligros de su discurso hasta que no hemos visto a uno de sus principales valedores entrando en la Casa Blanca. Esta va a ser la disyuntiva que marque los próximos años y quizás las próximas décadas de nuestras vidas.
Pese a lo incierto del resultado, existen motivos para la esperanza. Ni el Brexit ni Donald Trump fueron las opciones mayoritarias entre los votantes jóvenes.
Hillary Clinton dio un discurso de concesión sosegado y solemne. Ha cometido errores en esta campaña. Muchos se han lamentado de que no haya sido capaz de romper ese último techo de cristal para las mujeres. Sin embargo, es de justicia reconocer que Clinton ya ha hecho historia, ya ha roto varios techos de cristal. Es la primera mujer que ha conseguido ser candidata a la Presidencia de Estados Unidos por uno de los dos principales partidos. Y es la primera mujer en la historia que ha ganado el voto popular en unas elecciones presidenciales en ese país. Sus defectos no deben ensombrecer lo que sin duda es una trayectoria cargada de logros.
En sus palabras dando las gracias a los que la apoyaron y reconociendo su derrota, la ex secretaria de Estado hizo a los jóvenes una última petición inspiradora: “esta derrota duele, pero por favor, nunca dejéis de creer que luchar por lo que es justo merece la pena”. Ella ya ha dejado su marca en la historia. Ahora es el momento de estar a la altura, y de empezar a dejar la nuestra.
About the author:
Nicolás (19) is member of the Youth Council of the Future. He participated in the “My Europe” workshop in Madrid in 2013.
Heavy times in Europe right now. Everybody was shocked when the first boat sank. But now, when we have to share our land, we are not that shocked anymore. Sinking boats are something from daily life. Suddenly we have to share our little country with another nation, with another culture and another religion. Nobody ever said it should be easy.
When I was little I was taught not to burp at the table. Always to look people straight in the eyes, to have respect for everyone and every culture I was with. These are norms, with the value to respect everyone. In Europe a big discussion is going on right now: do we have the duty to welcome these people? Even though they stick to another culture, another religion?
A few famous, populistic, politicians say we have to overthink our own Western Norms and Values and protect them first, instead of just taking everyone. Even though they see norms and values, which are normal to us, in another way. So, my question, what are these norms and values exactly?
Je suis Charlie. Paris 7th of January 2015. Two men in black suits shot cartoonists. Cartoons emerged afterwards: cartoons from ‘western people’ with duck-tape stuck to their mouths. It seems so important to us: our freedom of expression. We have this famous politician in Holland: Geert Wilders. He is repeatedly accused for insulting remarks/expressions against Muslims. His expressions and speeches are banal and heavy, and many people wonder why he has so many followers. It is because of this, we all had the same feeling when the cartoonist got killed: our freedom of expression is in danger. ‘We have fought for it through history’. I think this is an important value in Holland, so it is in Europe. People get angry when they feel they cannot say what they want, even though it is hurting other humans. Right now, in Poland the government decided to lead the state television, which means they can control when and what people say on television. According the rules from the EU-membership this is forbidden. But with another crisis to carry, the EU doesn’t pay that much attention to this problem. Even though it imparks the Polish citizens’ freedom of expression.
New Year’s Eve. Cologne 1th of January 2016. Sexual harassment is a big issue and was put on the spotlights after the incidents in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. First the refugees came to ‘touch’ our freedom of expression. Now they’re touching our women: the world has gone mad.
So, safety should be a value. Safety on the streets to walk everywhere and at every moment you want, in the clothes you like. So, according to our European identity there are two important values: freedom of expression and safety (no sexual intimidation). The most important values, but in my opinion also the most empty values. I wonder, are you free when the government checks everything you are doing on the streets and on the internet in the name of keeping terrorists away from planning attacks?
For example: in Amsterdam you can be who you are and by that I mean the gay community. The Ministry of Education in Holland decided to educate asylum seekers in gay rights in the Netherlands. As the minister Jet Bussemaker told the media: ‘Refugees often come from countries where female- and gay rights are not always self-evident’. I think this is not only a Dutch value: discrimination is also not allowed in other European countries. So I think we can say that ‘no discrimination’ or ‘tolerance’ also are Western values.
So with this we come to a few important values belonging to our Western European World: Freedom of expression, safety (on every area), against discrimination, tolerance. And with these we also come to another value: the European Identity. Some European citizens are afraid Europe will lose her identity and her dominant culture, when lots of people from other cultures come to live here. I think this is not true, because I think diversity and tolerance towards other cultures and religions is one of the strongest values a country can have. We have to defend this values, but not because they’re ‘our Western values we have fight for through history’. We have to defend and think about them because these are values that are always very important.
What allows us to teach refugees not to condemn people on their sexual preferences if we still condemn people on their culture and religion ourselves?
About the author:
Adinda Blank (18) participated in our workshop in Amsterdam in 2014 as a student of Montessori Lyceum Amsterdam. She is dreaming of becoming a journalist and enjoys history, singing, rowing, drawing as well as writing stories.