50 Years of Earth Day: Where are we headed?


This April will mark 50 years of Earth Day. Here at the Ohio State University, we have many events planned this spring to mark the occasion. With this new regular blog feature, OSU’s Department of Geography will take stock, over the course of Spring semester 2020, collectively, of our community’s contributions to understanding significant social and environmental change. Specifically, what do geographers have to contribute to highly visible environmental movements such as Earth Day?

Earth Day is an annual event whose purpose is to advocate for environmental protection. Earth Day is perhaps the most visible symbol of the modern environmental movement, to harness the passion and activism of college students, in making a case to protect air, water and biodiversity resources[1].  Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22nd, with the ongoing goal to mobilize, advocate and educate for environmental issues. Other issues such as climate change, a green economy, and sustainable agriculture have been incorporated into the goals of the event over time[2].

This semester, our blog will present topical and cutting-edge research on social and environmental change. We will explore some of the front lines of climate change (from South American glaciers to midwestern agriculture), engaging with the politics of environmental data: how scientific knowledge about pollution reflects the efforts and interests of multiple institutions, firms and government bodies, our policies to redesign our economies and cities in anticipation of looming environmental crises, how conservation policy can work against the needs of communities and wildlife in practice, and many other salient issues. Moreover, as geographers, we find common ground in prioritizing social and environmental justice in confronting existential threats wrought by climate change – it is clearer now than ever that societal and environmental challenges are inextricably linked[3]. Faculty, graduate students and visitors to OSU geography will provide weekly posts on their research. Our goal is that we uncover some broader insights as a community. Please check back!


Darla Munroe

Professor and Chair

Department of Geography


[1] https://www.earthday.org/history/
[2] https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/earth-day/
[3] https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2020