Office of Sustainability, environmental groups seek to promote campus involvement with Earth Week

Climate change and its effects were discussed at a talk on the first day of Earth Week at Northwestern. The events are hosted by the Office of Sustainability in coordination with many student groups.

Skylar Zhang/Daily Senior Staffer

Climate change and its effects were discussed at a talk on the first day of Earth Week at Northwestern. The events are hosted by the Office of Sustainability in coordination with many student groups.

Amy Whyte, Reporter

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The Office of Sustainability is joining with student groups this week to raise environmental awareness through Earth Week events, ranging from guest lectures to a “mountain” of trash display.

Rob Whittier, Northwestern’s director of sustainability, said he hopes the events this week spread awareness about current environmental efforts on campus and get students and faculty more involved with green initiatives.

“Earth Week’s about engagement, about how can we get the most students involved,” Whittier said. “With Green Cup, we only do it for one month. If we did it all year long, people wouldn’t give it as much attention. Earth Week allows us to have a focused effort on sustainability for a short period of time.”

The week of programming kicked off Monday with a screening of “The Island President” and a lecture on climate change and globalization hosted by Students for Ecological and Environmental Development. Earth science Prof. Seth Stein, environmental policy Prof. Gordon Davis and Dr. Sarah Lovinger, executive director of Chicago Physicians for Social Responsibility, spoke at the event.

Other events include the annual “Mount Trashmore” display Tuesday, an alternative transit fair at Norris on Wednesday, an NU Food Talks potluck dinner Thursday and Arbor Day mulching and tree planting Friday.

“There was a big effort from every environmental group on campus to put on events for Earth Week,” SEED president Chelsea Corbin said.

There will also be a memorial on Friday for political science professor emeritus H. Paul Friesema, who passed away earlier this year.

“He really nurtured the environmental movement and community at Northwestern,” said Corbin, a Medill junior and former Daily staffer.

This year’s Earth Week differs from last year’s in that the events, which are almost entirely student-organized, follow a set of themes, Whittier said. These themes are energy, water, waste agriculture and transportation.

“We wanted to make sure we were offering programming that focused on all the different aspects of sustainability,” Whittier said.

The first Earth Week event Monday night was sparsely attended, with about 20 people watching the featured documentary. The film tells the story of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives and his campaign for a climate change resolution at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit. 

SEED member Carrie Langhauser, who was responsible for organizing the event, said the group chose to screen this movie because it shows a real world example of why sustainability is important: The Maldives, one of the lowest-lying countries in the world, could be submerged if sea levels continue to rise.

“A lot of times on campus it’s very easy to feel like you’re in a bubble,” said Langhauser, a Weinberg sophomore. “We wanted to show that what you’re doing really affects the rest of the world.”

As part of its Earth Week promotion, the Office of Sustainability launched a new website Monday, featuring ways for students to get involved with sustainability efforts. The old website was just an outlet for sharing information, Whittier said, but the new one focuses on engagement.

“If every student leaves this week with one or two new pieces of information or a desire to get involved in some way, then we’ve done our job,” Whittier said.

Comments