Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

Story of EAC

Harvard undergraduate students founded the Environmental Action Committee to encourage others to work for environmental justice as a PBHA program in 1962. This established the first environmental organization on campus, and joined the national mainstream environmental movement as well as the push for civil rights and environmental justice. EAC grew to encompass Harvard’s environmental community, consisting of many sub-committees dedicated to specific projects. These projects included Earth Day celebrations, box sales, a Sustainable Allston campaign.
Veguary, environmental education lessons for after school programs, and the Ecolympics which began in 1990, now known as the Green Cup. In 2003, EAC members helped the Green Campus Initiative draft a proposal for the Resource Efficiency Program, which would later become part of the Office for Sustainability. In 2004, the university announced a commitment to six sustainability principles, set in motion by a meeting of EAC members and administrators. Similarly, in 2006, members of EAC rallied students to declare an 11% decrease from 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. President Faust created a committee to scientifically set a goal, and in 2008 the university set a commitment to a 30% decrease from 2006 levels by 2016. Later that year, President Faust created the Office for Sustainability, institutionalizing the efforts for a more sustainable college and university. Since then, the environmental community at Harvard has grown immensely, with many new recognized student organizations focused on sustainability and the environment, as well as paid positions and internships through offices and departments. Today, the nature of the environmental community demands groups to be specialized and focus on a specific niche. There is no longer a space for an organization to function as an umbrella organization for all environmental topics, as EAC did in the past.

With this evolution of the environmental community at Harvard and beyond, EAC has evolved as well, focusing on environmental service. While maintaining traditions like the Earth Day fair, environmental education lessons, and Veguary, EAC has also adopted new projects, such as an environmental art publication. As we look to next year, we look to collaborate with more organizations and expand our audience and the environmental community. As EAC continues evolving in this new state of environmentalism, we look to find ways to embrace a collective identity of environmentalists, while also celebrating each group’s individual identity to broaden the impact we can have on our communities.

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