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Earth Day 2020: Universities in the US went virtual for Earth Day at 50

Earth Day
This year's Earth Day was a low-key affair, but that didn't stop universities from observing the environmental movement. Source: Sam Panthaky/AFP

Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22, but this year’s observation of the event — which marks the 50th anniversary of the environmental movement — has been extremely low key, thanks to COVID-19.

This year’s theme is climate action.

Universities are usually big observers of the movement, but just because many can’t organise on-campus events to mark the occasion, some institutions have decided to go ahead with a virtual Earth Day — or week — instead.

Earth Day

Like running events, universities’ Earth Day events have been cancelled and turned to virtual ones. Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America/AFP

These are what some universities are up to:

Florida State University


According to ABC27, FSU Organizers spent the past year building a physical display that would be located in FSU’s Strozier Library. But due to the pandemic, things shifted online.

Instead, the report said an FSU graphic design student brought the exhibit to life with a 1970’s layout and throwback colour scheme. 

Earth Day was celebrated for the first time on April 22, 1970.

The collection is called “Earth Day 50: Environmental Activism at FSU and Beyond.”

Check out FSU’s virtual Earth Day project here.

University of Southern California

USC’s virtual Earth Day involved a series of online activities, including virtual interactive forums, panel discussions, a career fair and even a sustainability-themed meditation session using Zoom and other video technology, said the university.

Some of the topics covered in their forum included topics that covered the causes of the climate change crisis, solutions to the disruption and USC’s sustainability efforts, talks about the university’s sustainability goals, progress and challenges, and even featured a career fair with “green” employers.

University of Colorado Boulder


CU Boulder didn’t just have a one-off virtual Earth Day on Zoom — the university also had a lineup of events spread throughout the month.

Students can explore the university’s history of environmental advocacy, learn about eco-learning, and explore webinars with environmental-related topics.

University of Miami

The University of Miami hosted a virtual Earth Week from April 18 to April 24. 

Students had the opportunity to attend a workshop that covers the history of disposable plastics, the qualities that make them durable, reasons why they are a threat to our planet and tips on living sustainably during this pandemic.

The event also featured talks on the impact of COVID-19 on climate crisis, as well as the global implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UN’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. 

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