The April 2022 Earth Days celebration broadened its reach this year with a greater number of departments hosting events than ever before, befitting the interdisciplinary nature of the climate crisis.
The Earth Days Planning Committee chose the theme: “Climate Crises: Actions for a Just and Livable World.” The group was influenced by the February 2022 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on impacts which paints a dire picture of “human-induced climate change” already causing “dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world.” As an educational institution, Salem State University seeks to provide opportunities to students, employees and the entire North Shore community to learn about climate change science, impacts, solutions, and issues of climate justice. Throughout their lifetimes, SSU students will experience a changing planet and witness difficult debates about societal restructuring. Earth Days is one of many facets of Salem State’s mission to prepare our students to be future leaders in addressing society’s defining crises.
The Salem State Earth Days Planning Committee developed a series of lectures and other events to unify students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader community in understanding how we can all contribute to slowing the advance of climate change and managing the impacts that are already occurring.
The two-dozen activities engaged more than 1,000 people, including those who viewed video recordings. View links to the Earth Days webinars and events. Highlights this year included the annual student research poster competition, SSU’s only judged undergraduate research competition, as well as a student art competition in the form of a playable minigolf course. For the first time, there was a student writing competition, allowing students to address their climate change-related fears, concerns and hopes for the future. The month’s events addressed topics including offshore wind, climate change journalism, climate risk and the politics of adaptation, climate justice and social work, and the Green New Deal.
The Earth Days committee bestowed two Friend of the Earth Awards and our first-ever Student Friend of the Earth award:
- HEET, for their leadership initiating projects and partnerships to transform Massachusetts’ energy systems
- Nathan Phillips, climate activist and associate professor of environmental science at Boston University for his research and advocacy on gas leaks and a clean energy future
- Student Friend of the Earth Award to Joey Wolongevicz for his climate leadership
Highlights of the award ceremony included hearing Nathan Philips and HEET’s co-executive directors Audrey Schulman and Zeyneb Magavi share their thoughts on reimagining energy systems in Massachusetts. Another high point occurred when student Zhe Pan, first place winner in the Earth Days Essay Memoir category, read her poignant personal essay “Goodbye Sky.” You may view this essay and those of the other winners in Red Skies, SSU’s online student literary magazine.
Student Award Winners
Congratulations to the following student winners who received cash awards, provided courtesy of the Tefferteller Peace Fund:
Research Poster Contest
- Nick Oldham, "Cradle to Grave" Analysis of Nuclear Energy's Potential to Mitigate Climate Change
- Matt Sweeney, Nature-Based Solutions: Looking to Nature in the Face of Climate Change
- Rebecca Smalley, Improving Sustainability through Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
Art Contest (sharing one prize for best minigolf hole)
- Julie Garrett
- Selma Lakacha
- Lilliana Nunez
- John Pestano
- Speculative Memoir
- First Place: Meghan Miraglia, “Logging Period Symptoms in the Apocalypse”
- Second Place: Vivica Vu-Le, “Earth, Are you Okay?”
- Third Place: Nicole Childs, “Cape Cod Crisis”
- Essay Memoir
- First Place: Zhe Pan, “Goodbye Sky”
- Second Place: Yuhang Gao, “Suffocating”
- Third Place: Nicole Childs “Cape Cod Crisis”
The Earth Days Planning Committee would like to thank everyone who hosted events, participated in or judged the competitions, and viewed any of the panels, films or other activities.
Guy Bellino (co-chair), Chris Fauske, Ryan Fisher, Karen Gahagan, Tara Gallagher (co-chair), John Hayes, Noel Healy, Lisa Johnson, Severin Kitanov, Laura Laranjo, Sara Mana, Laura Smith, Justin Snow, Kym Pappathanasi, Keith Ratner, Ken Reker, Erkan Toraman, Steve Young, Carol Zoppel
Michael Corley, Samantha Flaherty, Samantha Giffen, Ashley Hames, Joey Wolongevicz
Lynn Nadeau, Healthlink
Follow us on social media to keep up on Earth Days 2023 and on sustainability events on campus:
- Facebook: Salem State Sustainability
- Instagram and Twitter: @sustainable_ssu