Earth Day Eve, 1970

A photo of the Teach-In on the Environment poster from the University of Michigan archives

Did you know? The University of Michigan hosted a Teach-In on the Environment (which attracted well of 13,000 spectators) just prior to the celebration of the first Earth Day.

The Teach-In was organized and executed by ENACT (Environmental Action for Survival, Inc.), an organization on the University of Michigan’s campus. The program spanned from March 11th to March 14th, 1970 and was meant to attract the attention of the university population and “influential people in government” for the purpose of spreading awareness regarding environmental issues such as climate change, pollution, land conservation, pesticides, and more.

Doug Scott and Dave Allan served as ENACT’s co-chairs. They, along with ENACT members and other individuals throughout and beyond the campus community, hosted an opening rally at the Crisler Center (which overflowed with attendees after its approximately 13,000 person capacity was reached) as well as about 125 events extending from the campus through the city of Ann Arbor.

Most of the events were centered around the “exchange of information and ideas.” Speakers included congressmen like Gaylord Nelson and Phil Hart, scientists like Barry Commoner, René DuBos, and David Brower, corporate executives like Herbert Doan and Charles Luce, activists and thinkers like Ralph Nader and Kenneth Boulding, and popular media icons like Gordon Lightfoot and Arthur Godfrey.

The 1970 Teach-In on the Environment at the University of Michigan provided a template for similar teach-ins on the environment across other universities campuses; university delegates traveled to Michigan for coaching by Doug Scott and the ENACT team.

This four-day event was essentially a “prototype of Earth Day,” and it served as a wildly successful attempt by students to spread awareness regarding sustainability issues.

We at Live Green UMich dream of reaching an audience of such scale…for now, we will settle with reading stories of successes like this one.

Interested in reading the full story? You can find it here.