Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Teach-In to address today’s issues as Earth Day nears 40th anniversary

The future meets the past: U-M marks 40th anniversary of Earth Day >

U-M will mark the 40th anniversary of Earth Day with a Teach-In to address critical issues affecting the planet and give voice to the university’s new sustainability initiative. The Teach-In is from 9:30 a.m.-noon March 25 in the Michigan League, and is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be available at 9 a.m.

“Our 40th Anniversary Earth Day Teach-In provides a good example of the University of Michigan’s strong commitment to sustainability,” says Don Scavia, special counsel to the president on sustainability. “Engaging the community and building public awareness at a local level is essential for positive progress toward sustainability on a global scale.”

The event will bring together students, faculty, staff and the community to learn from experts, share ideas and inspire action.

The Teach-In will kick off with four concurrent panel discussions addressing urgent issues of sustainability: energy/climate, sustainable mobility, food/health and water/Great Lakes. Faculty and practitioners will lead the one-hour panels, and students will moderate them, with time for participant questions and discussion.

Following the panels, Scavia will lead a plenary session to extend the conversation among participants.

The event recalls a massive Teach-In at U-M 40 years ago that served as inspiration and model for the first national Earth Day. The U-M events drew more than 15,000 people, with participants who included Gordon Lightfoot, Barry Commoner, Ralph Nader, Edmund Muskie and many more.

Then, as now, the April 22 date for national Earth Day conflicted with final exams, and student organizers scheduled the weeklong Teach-In during mid-March. Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. senator from Wisconsin and organizer of national Earth Day, credited U-M with providing a model that inspired many organizations to participate when the national celebration occurred a month later.

The Teach-In is sponsored by the Alumni Association, the Vice President for Communications, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the School of Public Health, the Graham Sustainability Institute, the Office of Campus Sustainability and Planet Blue.