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Teach-in + 50: End the War Against the Planet

Saturday, March 28, 2015
12:00 AM
Angell Hall Auditorium A

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the nation's first teach-in on the war in Vietnam, held at the University of Michigan on March 24-25, 1965. To commemorate this historic event, we have assembled several of the key participants in the 1965 teach-in to reflect on its lasting significance. But the wider purpose is "commemoration through emulation." To that end we are presenting a new teach-in focused on one of the most pressing issues of our time: the escalating war against the planet represented by climate change the the threat it poses to the web of life on earth.

This event marks the fiftieth anniversary of the nation’s first teach-in on the war in Vietnam, held at the University of Michigan on March 24-25, 1965. The original teach-in, which was organized and led by faculty on the Ann Arbor campus, addressed one of the most pressing public issues of the day: our nation’s rapidly escalating war in Vietnam. Drawing more than 3,000 students, faculty, and other participants, it proved highly successful, and the teach-in format that was pioneered at the University of Michigan was replicated at countless colleges and universities across the country over the next several months and years. To commemorate this historic event, we have assembled several of the key participants in the 1965 teach-in to reflect on its lasting significance. But the wider purpose of the conference, in the words of Arthur Waskow, a speaker at the original teach-in and a member of our external Advisory Committee, is “commemoration through emulation.” To that end we are presenting a new teach-in focused on one of the most pressing issues of our time: the escalating war against the planet represented by climate change and the threat it poses to the web of life on earth.

This is an open public event. It is not limited to members of the University community. Anyone interested in climate change – which should be all of us – is welcome to attend and participate. Our speakers are experienced in addressing general audiences; you will not be weighed down with technical jargon or endless tables and charts. The teach-in is meant to raise awareness of climate change and to expand the ongoing conversation about possible solutions. We hope you will add your voice to that conversation.

This is actually the second teach-in at the University of Michigan devoted to environmental issues. The first, in March of 1970, opened with a public sledge-hammering of an old automobile, as a symbol of pollution and environmental harm. Today, the most serious environmental threat arguably comes from global climate change. Our teach-in will examine the dimensions and sources of climate change, relying heavily, as the first teach-in did, on the scholarly expertise of our own faculty and supplemented by outside experts and activists. We will also explore the search for possible solutions in the context of a world that is heavily dependent on fossil fuels and in which economic and political elites are able to exert ever greater control and influence over public policy.

In the spirit of the 1965 teach-in, our aim is not to give equal time to climate scientists and science deniers; the scientific evidence for climate change is overwhelming. Still, we are not pushing a particular line on climate change or advocate for one solution over others. The science is complicated, and the possible solutions even more so – as we will hear from leading experts drawn from the worlds of academia, activism, and policy.

Our local Planning Committee, made-up of faculty, staff, and students at the University of Michigan, is assisted by an external Advisory Committee consisting of more than a dozen prominent scholars, writers, and activists whose work has addressed the multi-faceted challenges of climate change from differing angles.

Speaker: