First Earth Day at UMD 1970

Earth Day, celebrated on April 22nd, is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the environment. The first Earth Day was conceived as a teach-in, and was the brainchild of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. In 1970, about 2,000 colleges and universities and 12,000 high schools participated in some way, including UMass Dartmouth, which was known at that time as SMU, or Southeastern Massachusetts University. SMU held a comprehensive program over a 12-hour period which brought a number of experts on campus to discuss air, water and thermal pollution. There was a special edition of the Torch dedicated to Earth Day.  It was successful, because Earth Day was left as a grassroots effort.  All planning took place on the local level, coordinated by a national group based in Washington, known as The Environmental Teach-In, Inc.    Planning for the events on the SMU campus began in February of 1969 with the formation of CONE, the Committee on Ecology, a group of students “dedicated to enlightening SMU and its surrounding community of the problems now facing our environment” (Torch, Vol. VII, no. 15, March 13, 1970, p. 3-4).   Events took place before and after April 22, 1970.  Among the events on campus was a series of lectures, sponsored by variouis student clubs, a field trip to the then-polluted Acushnet River, the symbolic burial of a combustion engine by the SMU fraternities, a panel discussion on environmental issues in Southeastern Massachusetts, and a lecture on the politics of pollution.  A special logo was designed and used for Earth Day in 1970.

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