Intersections of sustainability and wellness

April 22, 2020, marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. But, like so many things in 2020, the University of Utah’s Earth Week celebrations were canceled.

This year’s U Earth Week events, which take place from April 12-16, are shaped by the world around us. The events highlight resilience and joy. Alex Farley, chairperson of the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU) Sustainability Board, said the board focused on creating events around the “intersections of sustainability and wellness.”

“This past year has been extremely challenging for students and we wanted to plan events that would alleviate stressors and help students enjoy the turn of the seasons and semesters,” Farley says. “I believe it is so important to take a wellness approach in Earth Week this year because frankly, it is what we need. The climate crisis is just as frightening and urgent, but we also need to focus on our own wellbeing before we can think about climate action.”

Farley hopes this year’s keynote address, “Healing and Feeling: Resilience in an Age of Climate Chaos” by Good Grief Network co-founders LaUra Schmidt and Aimee Lewis Reau, will help students turn some of that anxiety into action. The event takes place on Thursday, April 15 at 4 p.m. All are welcome to register online and tune in. The Good Grief Network is a nonprofit that promotes coping strategies and works to alleviate burnout in the face of planetary crises. They use a 10-step process modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous to help people process their emotions and then work toward meaningful action. Schmidt is an alumnus of the University of Utah’s Environmental Humanities program.

An Open Forum with Chief Sustainability Officer Kerry Case on April 12 at 4:30 p.m. will give students insight into the U’s climate resilience efforts and create an opportunity for students to ask questions and provide feedback. Other events, such as the Active Transportation Day and the Virtual Tree Tour, will help the U community get outside and have fun.

See a full list of events at sustainability.utah.edu/earth-week.

“What students know when they leave the University of Utah is arguably our biggest sustainability impact,” Case said. “As the Sustainability Office, we want to engage students in sustainability at every level. The more students engaged, the more graduates that are equipped with tools they’ll need to create a more equitable and environmentally sustainable society when they leave the U.”

Farley hopes the week of events will empower students.

“I fully believe events like the Open Forum with Chief Sustainability Officer Kerry Case and the keynote address give students the opportunity to enhance their 'sustainability toolkit,'" said Farley. "I also hope this week can be refueling in other ways—events like the window garden kit giveaways give students little breaks to partake in something small and meaningful."

Eight films to watch for Earth Week for free from the J. Willard Marriott Library.

Earth Day at the U

This Earth Day—April 22, 2021—join prominent artists, educators and scientists from the University of Utah, Harvard, Stanford, University of California, Berkeley and other universities across the country for Artivism For Earth, a project developed to inspire compassionate and creative actions to the climate crises facing the world.

Events

  • Video Mosaic | 12 p.m.
  • “Hour of Decision: A Cycle of Four Elements” | 1 p.m.
  • Crossroads Project | 2 p.m.
  • KUER/Artivism4Earth Panel Discussion | 4 p.m.
  • “Artivism for Earth: Expressions of Loss and Hope” | 7 p.m.

To learn more about Artivism For Earth, visit artivism4earth.utah.edu.

Media Contacts

Morgan Aguilarcommunications specialist, University of Utah Communications