Earth Month puts focus on U-M sustainability efforts

March 25, 2024
Written By:
Adam Fisher, U-M Sustainability Communications Manager

Events, interdisciplinary programming set for late March, April

Earth Month promotional graphic

The University of Michigan is marking late March and all of April with a series of events focused on sustainability and climate action, continuing a tradition that began with the first “Teach-In on the Environment” in 1970—which grew into what is now known as Earth Day.

The events span various environmental subtopics. Programs are offered by several university units, including the School for Environment and Sustainability, Graham Sustainability Institute, Office of Campus Sustainability, Student Life Sustainability, Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, Global CO2 Initiative, LSA, and various student organizations.

“I’m excited by the variety of Earth Month events taking place at U-M and am confident that we can come together with a shared culture of sustainability,” said President Santa J. Ono. “At the University of Michigan, this means students, faculty and staff contributing their ideas and energies toward a carbon-neutral campus and a more sustainable world. Though Earth Day typically falls amid final exams, Earth Month is an important annual opportunity to look toward our collective future.”

Highlights include:

March 25: Climate Vulnerability & Health Symposium
This event, hosted by the Center for Global Health Equity, in collaboration with the School of Nursing, School of Public Health and School for Environment and Sustainability, will examine the intersection of climate and global health, with an emphasis on mitigating health risks for the world’s most vulnerable communities.

March 26: U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on Environmental Justice and Confronting the Climate Crisis
This in-person and livestreamed event is hosted by the School for Environment and Sustainability, and Democracy and Debate, and will focus on centering environmental justice and empowering communities with the tools and resources they need to protect our shared planet for current and future generations.

March 28-30: Rooting for Change: Student Food Summit
In this three-day event, the U-M Sustainable Food Program will host a variety show, a lunchtime panel and a series of “learnshops” that offer student perspectives on food, sustainability and social justice.

March 30: Advancing Indigenous Land Rights and Stewardship in the U.S.—Promising Paths Forward
This in-person and virtual event, hosted by the School for Environment and Sustainability and the Tishman Center for Social Justice and the Environment, will highlight Indigenous-led land return and co-stewardship efforts supported by U-M student and faculty projects.

April 5: Water@Michigan Symposium
This annual event, convened by the Water@Michigan Collaborative and supported by the U-M Water Center and the School for Environment and Sustainability, will explore water justice, access and affordability across the state of Michigan. State Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, will deliver a keynote address.

April 10-11: Leadership for Turning Climate Anxiety into Action
This interactive event, hosted by the School for Environment and Sustainability in partnership with the Office of the Provost and other U-M collaborators, includes discussions about how to manage climate anxiety, how to teach about climate change in an emotion-informed way, and how to promote appropriate types of hope to foster climate action. Sarah Jaquette Ray, author of “The Existential Toolkit for Climate Justice Educators: How to Teach in a Burning World,” will deliver a keynote address.

April 12: Mcity Test Facility tour
The Planet Blue Ambassador program is convening a tour (limited availability; register at of Mcity’s 32-acre site on North Campus. Mcity is the world’s first purpose-built proving ground for testing the performance and safety of connected and automated vehicles and technologies under controlled and realistic conditions.

April 12-13: Noon at Night
Cultural organizers from Student Life Sustainability are launching a café/classroom featuring student activism in response to environmental, socioeconomic and political crises.

April 24: Wege Lecture on Sustainability featuring Katharine Hayhoe—New Climate Solutions and Galvanizing for Action
Climate scientist Hayhoe will discuss what’s new in climate action and climate science, and what actions people can take to create the biggest impact within their communities—with an emphasis on solutions with broad political support for local and national adoption.

Earth Month programming also includes an ongoing interactive exhibit on carbon capture and conversion, multiple “Where to Throw” lunch-and-learns on waste reduction, a solar eclipse watch party, an “Earth Month Swag Swap,” a sustainability book club, a plant sale at the U-M Farm Stand, Refugia Festival-Ann Arbor and a “seed library” kickoff event. Though all events are open to the public, registration is encouraged for most with limited availability for some.

U-M’s Planet Blue brand encompasses all university sustainability and climate action efforts, spanning research, academics, operations and campus involvement across the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, and Michigan Medicine. Though April is typically associated with environmentalism, the university convenes sustainability-related events and activities year-round, promoted on the Planet Blue website and elsewhere.

Planet Blue