The goal was to prepare the next generation of environmental leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed decisions about conservation and sustainability, regardless of their chosen field.
Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22, is a day of global environmental action and awareness. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is recognized as the birth of the modern environmental movement and has since become a global phenomenon. It is a day to reflect on our relationship with the planet, consider the ways in which our actions impact the environment, and inspire each other to take steps to protect the earth for future generations.
The significance of Earth Day is closely tied to the founding of The School for Field Studies (SFS), an organization dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship and sustainability through experiential learning. SFS was founded in 1981 by a group of individuals who recognized the need for greater environmental literacy among young people in the United States. At the time, environmental studies and sciences curricula were gaining momentum at some of the nation’s leading colleges and universities, but the field was still largely dominated by scientists collecting data, analyzing results, and disseminating information primarily to other scientists.
SFS aimed to create a more inclusive movement, one that would educate and enlist individuals of all backgrounds and professions to help protect the planet. The goal was to prepare the next generation of environmental leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed decisions about conservation and sustainability, regardless of their chosen field. The SFS model focuses on building reciprocal relationships with local communities worldwide as we strive to integrate ourselves into the areas we live, learn, and work. The SFS experience culminates in a directed research project that examines environmental issues identified as significant by local stakeholders.
Today, SFS is recognized as the premier environmental study abroad program for undergraduates in the United States. SFS operates fully staffed field stations in 10 countries, offering semester and summer programs. By instilling a sense of responsibility towards environmental stewardship in students, SFS continues to be a leader in environmental education and research.
Earth Day and the founding of SFS are closely intertwined, both representing a commitment to environmental education, action, and sustainability. As we celebrate Earth Day each year, we are reminded of the importance of protecting the planet for future generations, and of the critical role that organizations like SFS play in promoting environmental stewardship and sustainability.