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

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. Since 1996 Barbara has implemented a consulting practice to represent public advocates and national and state consumer organizations in public utility proceedings in over 30 U.S. and Canadian jurisdictions.

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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Michigan University-wide Sustainability and Environment (MUSE) Conference 2020

The purpose of the conference is to foster connections and new collaborations across the broad suite of sustainability and environment-related research at the University of Michigan. We welcome participation from those advancing knowledge through work in the humanities and the social, physical, natural, and engineering sciences.

Designing Business Models for Carbon Capture and Utilization Technologies

The +Impact Studio at Michigan Ross in partnership with the U-M Global CO2 Initiative and the Erb Institute is excited to offer an innovative workshop in which students will use design thinking methodologies to create business models for carbon capture and utilization technologies. Award-winning U-M faculty will share their research on these technologies in an informal setting, and participating students will have the opportunity to learn and apply the business model canvas to them. This process will result in ideas for sustainable businesses that work to meaningfully combat climate change, and further ways to get involved and potentially pursue these business ideas will be shared.




Renewable Energy in Michigan: Technologies, Public Policies, and Trends

Earth’s sun and wind are increasingly replacing fossil fuels as sources of energy. A big question is how much of our electric supply can be replaced by renewables. John Sarver, instructor, will discuss solar and wind power technologies, public policies and trends, focusing especially on issues peculiar to Michigan.
You will learn how solar and wind energy resources together with natural gas are expected to totally replace coal in the near future. Mr. Sarver, was a program director in the Michigan Energy Office for 35 years, where he worked on energy efficiency and renewable energy programs and policies. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association. This Study Group is for those 50 and over and meets Monday, 1:00–3:00 pm on October 28.

Business for Sustainability: Decision-Making for Positive Impact

GoTo Webinar

The University of Michigan Ross School of Business and the Erb Institute are proud to present this discussion with Dr. Joe Arvai on decision-making for the triple bottom line. Join us to learn more about the role of decision-making in business sustainability. 

Dr. Joe Árvai is the Max McGraw Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the School for Environment and Sustainability, and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. He is also the Director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. Dr. Arvai is an internationally respected expert in the risk and decisions sciences, and he is a frequent advisor to governments, government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector.

His research includes decision making for the triple bottom line, improving climate risk management choices, and consumers’ acceptance of input and recommendations from artificial intelligence. 

Join us for this thought-provoking discussion!


Recommended Audiences:
Full-Time MBA Students – Prospective

The Clean Energy Revolution is (Finally) Here: Dan Kammen

Dr. Daniel M. Kammen is a Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, with parallel appointments in the Energy and Resources Group where he serves as Chair, the Goldman School of Public Policy where he directs the Center for Environmental Policy, and the department of Nuclear Engineering. Kammen is the founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL; http://rael.berkeley.edu), and was director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center from 2007 – 2015.

US-China Environment and Sustainability Forum

The world today is facing unprecedented, interconnected environmental and sustainability challenges. Achieving sustainable development requires global efforts that are ambitious, action-oriented and collaborative. The US and China are the leaders of the global economy. At the same time, they also contribute significantly to many sustainability challenges worldwide. Both countries play particularly important roles for global sustainability. By bring together experts from both the US and China on environment and sustainability, the US-China Environment and Sustainability Forum at the University of Michigan (UCESF@UM) aims to: Take stock of achievements in addressing environmental and sustainability challenges in both countries, and identify critical areas that the two countries should work together and help the global transition towards more sustainable development. UCESF@UM will produce a whitepaper summarizing opinions and conclusions. To promote an intimate experience for easy engagement in conversation, attendance is capped at 120 participants including invited panelists and reserved seats for University of Michigan participants.


NERS Colloquium: Bret Kugelmass, Energy Impact Center

Solving climate change requires far more than the total elimination of annual greenhouse gas emissions. The complete decarbonization of electricity, agriculture, transportation, building heat, and industrial sectors may reduce the rate at which we accumulate heat, but will have no impact on the previous emissions that already, and will continue to, cause the majority of radiative forcing. Drawing inspiration from mathematics and physics, Bret Kugelmass derives a pathway towards global scale removal of greenhouse gas on a timeline fast enough to spare the most vulnerable communities. He presents a counterfactual to calls for policy “solutions” of sacrifice, efficiency, and taxes which often ignore energy demands and political realities of the developing world. He will argue that in deploying nuclear energy at scale, we can power the transition to a global carbon negative economy in a way that aligns short-term individual economic motivations with long-term environmental preservation.


Join SEAS at Earthfest for free food, entertainment, activities and a chance to learn new things about sustainability at U-M that you didn’t already know. The event is organized around the four themes of our Campus Sustainability Goals: Climate Action, Waste Prevention, Healthy Environments and Community Awareness.

Every fall since 1996 University of Michigan has held an event to celebrate all of the environmental and energy initiatives throughout the University and the Ann Arbor community. The event originated as Energy Fest but since 2010 has been known as EarthFest: Party for the Planet!

Come browse dozens of booths with information on how to get involved in sustainability on campus and beyond. Enjoy free healthy food, chef demos, live entertainment, and sustainability-related games with prizes! You’ll also have the chance to make a photo pledge to sustainability, and an opportunity to win sustainable foods basket by sharing your photo on Planet Blue Facebook or Twitter.

For more information, visit http://sustainability.umich.edu/earthfest.

The Eco Book Club and The World to Come

​Literati’s Eco Book Club goes on the road. Join us at UMMA on the occasion of the Museum’s exhibition of The World to Come: Art in the Age of the Anthropocene. This thought-provoking exhibition grapples with the negative impact of human activity on the planet through the art of more than thirty-five international artists such as Sammy Baloji, Liu Bolin, Dana Levy, Mary Mattingly, Pedro Neves Marques, Gabriel Orozco, Trevor Paglen, and Thomas Struth. Discussions will be led by Literati’s Eco Book Club facilitator Alison Swan.

Alison Swan’s poems and essays have appeared in many places, including her poetry chapbooks Before the Snow Moon and Dog Heart, and the recent award-winning anthologies Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction, Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology, and Here: Women Writing on the Upper Peninsula. Her anthology Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes is a Michigan Notable Book. A Mesa Refuge alum and a Petoskey Prize for Grassroots Environmental Leadership co-winner, she teaches literature and writing at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at Western Michigan University and lives in Ann Arbor.

Sunday, June 2, 3 p.m. Great Tide Rising: Towards Clarity and Moral Courage in a Time of Planetary Change by Kathleen Dean Moore. Join UMMA’s award-winning docents for a tour of The World to Come: Art in the Age of the Anthropocene at 2 p.m.

Sunday, July 28, 3 p.m. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Preceding the Book Club, join curator Jennifer Friess and Education Outreach Program Coordinator Grace VanderVliet at 2 p.m. for “Cross Pollination,” a tour of the environmental themes in three exhibitions at UMMA: The World to Come: Art in the Age of the Anthropocene; The Power Family Program for Inuit Art: Tillirnanngittuq​; and​ Jason DeMarte: Garden of Artificial Delights.

Participants are welcome to join us for one or both of the Book Club meetings. Books will be available for sale at Literati Bookstore as well as after book club meetings at UMMA, at a 15% book club discount.

The World to Come: Art in the Age of the Anthropocene is organized by the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida and curated by Kerry Oliver-Smith, Harn Museum of Art Curator of Contemporary Art. Support for the exhibition is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, UF Office of the Provost, National Endowment for the Arts, C. Frederick and Aase B. Thompson Foundation, Ken and Laura Berns, Daniel and Kathleen Hayman, Ken and Linda  McGurn, Susan Milbrath, an anonymous foundation, UF Center for Humanities and the Public Sphere, UF Office of Research and Robert and Carolyn Thoburn, with additional support from a group of environmentally-minded supporters, the Robert C. and Nancy Magoon Contemporary Exhibition and Publication Endowment, Harn Program Endowment, and the Harn Annual Fund.

Lead support for the local presentation of this exhibition is provided by Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch, the University of Michigan Office of the Provost, Michigan Medicine, Tom Porter in honor of the Michigan Climate Action Network, the Herbert W. and Susan L. Johe Endowment, and the University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design and School for Environment and Sustainability.