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Northwestern Celebrates Earth Day

Students gathered in the Willens Wing Atrium to celebrate Earth Day.Students gathered in the Willens Wing Atrium to celebrate Earth Day.

On January 23, 1970, Northwestern University students gathered inside of Tech for Project Survival, a public “teach out” to encourage environmental awareness. Attendees crowded into classrooms to learn about air pollution, non-renewable resources, and other topical issues. Then at midnight, they gathered for a “sing-in,” featuring the debut of Tom Paxton’s “Whose Garden Was This?” 

Forty-five years later, the faces have changed, but the sentiment has stayed the same. Students once again assembled inside of Tech to raise awareness about the environment and show appreciation for the planet. Cosponsored by the Environmental Science, Engineering, and Policy (ESEP) program and the McCormick School of Engineering, the celebration coincided with Earth Day, taking place on Wednesday, April 22.

Wearing tie-dyed Earth Day T-shirts created earlier in the week, more than 100 students gathered in the Willens Wing Atrium for food, live music, and exhibits. The event featured 21 exhibitors, including the Northwestern solar car team, Engineers for a Sustainable World, and sustainNU. Environmental historian Keith Woodhouse lectured about Project Survival and Earth Day, and then attendees enjoyed a live performance of “Whose Garden Was This?”

“The event celebrated the diverse ways we engage environmental issues at Northwestern,” said Neal Blair, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of ESEP. “From NUsolar, which epitomizes the best of engineering, to the stirring student rendition of Tom Paxton’s song, we saw student engagement at its best and broadest.”