Earth Days at Columbia

On April 22, 2017, the world will celebrate the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, the modern environmental movement that began in 1970. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. 

The initial Earth Day marked some interesting activities on Columbia's Morningside campus as well. Read on for a look at Earth Days at Columbia, then and now, and some Earth Day facts about how Columbia is a leader in sustainability, from academics to dining halls.



Coverage from the Columbia Daily Spectator

Not only was April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day celebration on campus, but as the Spectator Archives can attest, many other things were happening in Morningside. For instance, the University Senate was trying to get Columbia trustees to use the University's 57,000 shares of General Motors stock to pressure the company to reform its safety and environmental policies.


Fast forward to 2017, two Columbia alumni clubs are hosting Earth Day talks. If you're in the Texas or DC areas, be sure to check them out:

Columbia Professors Panel at Earth Day Texas

Friday, April 21 | Dallas, TX

Professor Michael Gerrard—Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School—and Professor Peter de Menocal—Director of the Columbia Center for Climate and Life—will be speaking on a panel at Earth Day Texas, to be held at Fair Park in Dallas.

Farmers, Scientists, and Spacecraft - Climate Change and the Impact on Smallholder Farmers

Friday, April 21 | Washington, DC

Join us the night before Earth Day and the March for Science in DC to learn about how farmers are working directly with scientists to analyze the risk of climate change! This is a great way to kick off a weekend of science and learning with one of the Columbia Earth Institute's lead scientists!


  • Seven Columbia buildings have earned LEED certification in recent years—including the Columbia Alumni Center
  • The Columbia University Green Fund awards $25,000 each year to student-led projects that support and advance sustainability on campus.  Meet the 2015-2016 Green Fund projects here.
  • Columbia offers 24 environmental degrees, as well as a sustainable development major and a sustainability master's program through its School of Professional Studies.
  • Approximately 52% of all food served at Columbia is purchased from vendors within 250 miles of the Morningside campus.
  • The Manhattanville campus, earned a LEED® Platinum—its highest designation and the first LEED-ND Platinum certification in New York City, as well as the first Platinum certification for a university campus plan nationally. 


In honor of Earth Day, the homepage of ColumbiaYou will feature faculty, alumni, and students who are committed to helping the planet. This environmental homepage takeover will stay live on the site until May 8. Here are a few of our favorites:


  • The Columbia Journalism Review takes a look at important or historical Earth Day media coverage over the years, from a 1991 article on consumer choices to a 1989 look at what role businesses should play in the movement.
  • Columbia University has an ongoing commitment to sustainability. Read more here.  
  • And here are some Earth Day energy-saving tips from Columbia University Facilities.
  • Columbia recently launched a Sustainability Plan, the University’s roadmap for a healthier, more sustainable campus community. Check it out.

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