Earth Day 2020

Earth Day 2020 Rise Up For the Environment Commemorative Week of Action

Fifty years ago, U-M held the nation’s first “Environmental Teach-In" in March, 1970. The five-day event served as a model for the first Earth Day celebrations held nationwide the following month on April 22. Today, concerns about our environment are more urgent than ever.

As the 50th anniversary of Earth Day approaches, the world is seeing a phenomenon unlike any we’ve seen since 1970. A mass uprising of people are demanding action on the climate crisis and a host of environmental concerns—fueled by the determination to ensure a livable world for their families, communities, and future generations.

This is why, in addition to commemorating our past, it is imperative that we rise to the challenges of our future. Now is the time to bridge traditional boundaries and build new collaborations. The University of Michigan, the Ecology Center, the National Wildlife Federation, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, the City of Ann Arbor, the Michigan Climate Action Network, and other community organizations are coming together to do just that. Together, we will explore how to amplify opportunities for collective action—and through our efforts, create a more just, sustainable world.

While “Earth Day at 50” activities will continue throughout 2020, the year-long commemoration will come to a crescendo March 9-14th—when a wide range of events, teach-ins, and activities will be held across campus and at various Ann Arbor venues.

Some of the highlights of our Earth Day 2020: Rise Up For the Environment Commemorative Week of Action include:

Earthday TeachIn

March 9-14th - Teach-in for the Environment 2020

At U-M's first Earth Day 50 years ago, there were more than 150 different teach-ins on a wide range of topics, and we hope to capture that spirit with updated teach-ins aimed at tackling the biggest challenges of our time. University of Michigan, the Ecology Center, the City of Ann Arbor, and community organizations are collaborating to host dozens of in-person workshops throughout campus and the city. The workshops will be practical, participatory, and oriented towards action. They’ll hit across a number of schools, colleges, and subject areas, from transportation, ecology, business and humanities, to engineering, human health, public policy, law, and others. There will also be teach-ins held throughout the Ann Arbor community.

And MUCH more! Check for a full list of teach-ins at the end of this month. All teach-ins are free and open to the public.

List of SEAS specific Teach-Ins

Earthday TeachIn History

March 11 - Environmental Action for Survival: The History and Legacies of U-M's 1970 Teach-In on the Environment

The March 1970 Teach-In on the Environment (the model for the first Earth Day) was organized by the U-M student organization Environmental Action for Survival (ENACT). The success of this five-day event on the U-M campus and in the Ann Arbor community is legendary, and many ENACT members went on to make significant impacts in the environmental and sustainability fields. Six leaders of ENACT and of the national Earth Day planning committee will hold a panel discussion that honors the rich history of U-M's Teach-In on the Environment. They will also share insights on the evolution of the movement—and the ongoing work they are involved in today. History, told well, shines a light on the present.  RSVP for the panel here. 

Youth Activism, Then and Now

March 11 - Youth Activism, Then and Now: Student activists from several generations on youth activism and environmental justice

An informal dialogue with student activists from the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. Panelists will discuss strategies used to change institutions, the centrality of environmental justice in organizing, and how things have changed through the years.

George Coling - Occupational health and environmental justice advocate, Former Executive Director, National Fuel Funds Network.
Kathryn Savoie, PhD - Detroit Community Health Director, Ecology Center
Dhruv Tatke - Current University of Michigan student and activist on climate and environmental justice
Dim Mang - Current University of Michigan student and activist on climate and environmental justice
Leelawadee Grimsby - Climate activist currently in her junior year at Ann Arbor's Pioneer High School
Michael Dorsey, PhD (invited) - Dr. Dorsey is a recognized expert on global energy, environment, finance and sustainability matters

Climate Action Summit

March 12 - Michigan Climate Action Summit

Spearheaded by The Michigan Climate Action Network, the Summit will bring together the general public, climate advocates, activists, and policymakers, to set a bold new agenda for Michigan to move forward on climate and justice. Get motivated to act on climate through inspiring speeches and strong keynote panels of labor, environmental justice, and climate leaders. And roll up your sleeves to dive deep in engaging breakout sessions. Buy tickets for the summit here.

Wege Lecture

March 12 - The Peter M. Wege Lecture & Earth Day 2020: Rise Up for the Environment Rally

The Wege Lecture and the Rise Up for the Environment double-event is part of the university & community-wide commemoration of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary—when U-M and Ann Arbor held the nation’s first “Environmental Teach-In” in 1970.

The annual Wege event brings environmentalist Philippe Cousteau, Jr. to the Hill Auditorium stage. Inspired by his grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, Philippe is a multi-Emmy-Nominated TV host, producer, author, and social entrepreneur. His conservation efforts, focused on solving global social and environmental problems, led him to found EarthEcho International—an organization dedicated to inspiring youth to act now for a sustainable planet.

Earth Day 2020: Rise Up for the Environment Rally Musical performances and dynamic sustainability and environmental justice leaders will inspire audiences to “Rise Up for the Environment" and take action on the greatest challenges of our time.

Earth Day 2020: Rise Up Speaker & Performer Highlights:

  • Naomi Klein: New York Times best-selling author and journalist; filmmaker and activist
  • Mustafa Santiago Ali: National Wildlife Federation’s Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization; founding member of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice
  • Mari Copeny: “Little Miss Flint” youth activist best known for raising awareness about Flint's ongoing water crisis and fundraising to support underprivileged children in her community and across the country
  • Abdul El-Sayed: physician, epidemiologist, public health expert, and progressive activist; Chair at Southpaw Michigan
  • Andy Levin: U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 9th District
  • Xiuhtezcatl Martinez: Earth Guardians Youth Director
  • Bryan Newland: president of the Bay Mill Indian Community Executive Council
  • David Pitawanakwat: Indigenious activist 
  • Heather McTeer Toney: first African-American, first female and youngest mayor of Greenville, MS; National Director, Moms Clean Air Force

This event is free and open to the public, but is expected to be filled at capacity. Please note there is a single ticket for the Wege Lecture and the Earth Day 2020 event.

University Co-Sponsors: University of Michigan College of Engineering, Office of Research, Office of the Vice President for Communications, Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Erb Institute, School of Public Health, Institute for Social Research, Ford School of Public Policy, Biosciences Initiative, and College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

Community Co-Sponsors & Planning Partners: The Ecology Center, Michigan Climate Action Network, National Wildlife Federation, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, and the City of Ann Arbor