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The Name of Sustainable Architecture’s Favorite New Material is M-U-D

In Mali, an ancient building technique proves far more sensible than wasteful modern alternatives.

The Great Mud Mosque of Djenné. Photo by Ruud Zwart via Wikimedia commons

A new-yet-old building material is revolutionizing construction and energy consumption in Mali. Promising to drive down base costs, improve insulation, and keep out heat, this green innovation is great news for one of the world’s poorest and most beleaguered nations, especially since wood, a major component in most hoses and source of fuel, has been scarce there for well over a decade. The name of this miracle building block is mud. That’s not an acronym or anything. Mali and many other neighboring nations have recently discovered how to solve a slew of development problems using plain old, dirt-and-water mud.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Thank a Teacher Today

Around the world, teachers have one thing in common—they’re vastly underappreciated. World Teachers’ Day can change that.

Today’s the day to thank the people who assigned the evens for math homework, made you memorize obscure verb conjugations, and (hopefully) inspired learning.

Sunday is the 20th anniversary of World Teachers’ Day, which UNESCO started in order to recognize the 1966 adoption of the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers. Underscoring that high-quality education requires high-quality educators, the document outlined standards in preparation, working conditions, and overall responsibilities of teachers.

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“If They Want to Ban Our Music, They Will Have to Kill Us First”

In the aftermath of political upheaval, Mali struggles to preserve its Islamic heritage

©UNESCO/Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Timbuktu, Sankore (Mali) - 2005

Amid all of Mali’s recent violence and political upheaval, protecting its cultural heritage might seem like a relatively low priority. However, in 2012, extremists wrecked many of Timbuktu’s 500-year-old mausoleums, important artifacts integral to the history of Islam in North Africa. Ever since then, the restoration of the country’s architecture and other cultural patrimony has become a symbolic quest, seen as essential to preserving Mali’s identity.

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