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School of Natural Resources and Environment pres.

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

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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 four-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.

Barbara R. Alexander (BA ’68) - Consumer Affairs Consultant, Former Director, Consumer Assistance Division, Maine Public Utilities Commission

Barbara R. Alexander graduated from the University of Michigan (B.A., LS&A) in 1968. After working on the Robert F. Kennedy campaign in Indiana, Oregon, and California, she moved to Washington, D.C. where she joined The Conservation Foundation and was recommended for the nascent Earth Day 1970 staff. Barb was the Midwestern Coordinator for Earth Day. Following her marriage to Donald Alexander and a move to Maine in 1973, Barb received a J.D. from the U. of Maine School of Law in 1976, and was appointed Superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection (1979-1983) and then from 1986-1996 the Director, Consumer Assistance Division, at the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

David Allan (PhD) - Professor Emeritus, U-M, Former acting dean, U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability

David Allan is Professor Emeritus in the School for Environment and Sustainability at The University of Michigan, where he has served as Professor and Dean. Dave’s research interests are in freshwater ecology, including the many threats to and benefits from healthy ecosystems. He received his BSc from the University of British Columbia (1966) and PhD from the University of Michigan (1971. In 1969-70, when he should have been working on his doctoral thesis, Dave joined with other students and supportive faculty to launch the ambitiously titled, “Environmental Action for Survival”, fortunately shortened to “Enact”, and helped to organize UM’s first earth day. Following graduation, he spent a post-doctoral year at the University of Chicago, then joined the Department of Zoology of the University of Maryland before returning to the University of Michigan in 1990. He retired in 2015 but remains professionally active, at present completing a third edition of his textbook entitled “Stream Ecology”. Allan has served on various committees advisory to the U.S. and Canada on freshwater protection, and on the boards of American Rivers and The Nature Conservancy. Professor Allan is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of the Society for Freshwater Science. He has been recognized by the University of Michigan with the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award and by the Society for Freshwater Science with the Award of Excellence.

George Coling - Occupational health and environmental justice advocate, Former Executive Director, National Fuel Funds Network

George Coling enrolled in the University of Michigan School of Public Health in the fall of 1969 after obtaining a Biology degree from the University of Rochester. He soon became involved in ENACT, the campus student group organizing events for the March 1970 Environmental Teach-In. After the Teach-In, he was one of the founders of the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor and then moved to Washington to work for Environmental Resources, the affiliate of Environmental Action, which organized Earth Day nationally. George worked in Washington until 2015, when he and his wife, Marcia Coling, moved to Western Massachusetts. George and Marcia have two sons and two grandchildren. In those years in Washington, George worked for the national organization of ecology centers, the American Public Health Association; the Urban Environment Conference, Inc.; Rural Coalition; Environmental Defense Fund and Sierra Club. Much of his work focused on the issues of occupational health and of environmental justice and on building grassroots networks to address these issues. He also did consulting for numerous environmental, community and labor organizations. From 1997 until his 2012 retirement, George was Executive Director of the National Fuel Funds Network, an organization of privately-funded energy assistance programs and an advocate for increased federal funding home energy assistance for people with low incomes.

Arthur Hanson (PhD) - Canadian global and regional ecologist, professor, Distinguished Fellow and former President, International Institute for Sustainable Development

Arthur Hanson is a Canadian ecologist working globally, regionally and with more than 20 countries on environment and sustainable development science and policy. Much of his work has taken place in North America and Asia, especially China and Indonesia. Dr. Hanson resides in Victoria, British Columbia. He is the former President (1992-1998) and now a Distinguished Fellow of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), an independent research organization headquartered in Canada. Art lived in Indonesia (1972-1977) affiliated with the Ford Foundation. Later, during the 1980s he established a number of major research and institutional development efforts there. From 1992 until the present he has worked with China and the international community at very senior levels to promote transformative policies and actions consistent with sustainable development. From 2002-2019 he was the International Chief Advisor of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED).

Elizabeth Grant Kingwill -Mental health counselor, Former Board of Directors member, Sierra Club local chapter

In the fall of 1969, Elizabeth Grant (Kingwill) was a graduate student in Rackham, the School of Natural Resources, in the Environmental Education Program. In her first semester in SNR, she saw an opportunity to include the local community of Ann Arbor and the State of Michigan in the planning for the ENACT Teach-In and took on the responsibility of Chairmanship of Community Relations. After the ENACT Teach-In in March 1970, she stayed in Ann Arbor for the summer where she was hired to help start the Ann Arbor Ecology Center as a non-profit. She found the building to house the offices of the Center and hired the first director. Her intention was to have the Center be a place that environmental groups could come together, work, meet and hopefully begin to cooperate on common goals. In 1972, Elizabeth worked as a U of M Consultant for her master’s thesis with the Girl Scouts of Metropolitan Detroit. Her role there included writing environmental manuals, directing an environmental program for girls, and conducting leadership training for their adult leaders. Thousands of girls and women were involved in the program. Elizabeth went back to school in Durango, Colorado in 1976, completing an undergraduate and masters degree in Psychology. Her work as a change agent moved from organizing environmental groups to changing minds and healing hearts. She was also Vice-President of a local environmental group, and later served on the Board of Directors of the local chapter of the Sierra Club. She moved to Jackson, Wyoming in 1980. She worked for the local Mental Health Center for nine years and has been in private practice as a counselor for the last thirty years. Creating the Ecology Center as a non-profit inspired a lifetime of working for and running non-profits in Colorado and Wyoming.

Doug Scott (BS '66) - Career strategist and lobbyist for conservation and environment, Former Associate Executive Director, Sierra Club

Doug Scott grew up in Oregon where he enjoyed camping, hiking, and climbing in the Cascade Mountains. A summer job at Carlsbad Caverns National Park led him to think he’d like to be a National Park Service ranger, so he chose to study in the School of Natural Resources [now the School of Environment and Sustainability] at the University of Michigan. While there he co-chaired the group that organized the March 1970 ENACT Teach-In on the Environment. He also served with Senator Gaylord Nelson on the board of directors of the national Earth Day organizing group. His involvement in environmental politics led his to a career as a strategist and lobbyist, working with The Wilderness Society, the Sierra Club (where he became Associate Executive Director), and the Pew Charitable Trusts to persuade Congress to protect many more national parks, national wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas. He now lives in Palm Springs, California.

Matt Lassiter (PhD) - Panel Moderator, U-M Professor of History and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Award-winning author

Matt Lassiter is Professor of History and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. He has directed multiple public engagement projects with UM undergraduate researchers, including the Fall 2017 “Michigan in the World” course that created “Give Earth a Chance: Environmental Activism in Michigan.” This multimedia exhibit chronicles the history of the four-day Environmental Action for Survival (ENACT) Teach-In at the University of Michigan in March 1970, the national Earth Day mobilization in April, the formation of the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, and related environmental campaigns in the state of Michigan during the 1960s and 1970s.
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