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Earth Day 2020: A Student Looks to the Future


Claire Curran ’20 and Hamilton’s other student sustainability coordinators had put together a week’s worth of campus events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but the COVID-19 pandemic swept that aside. Now Curran’s back home with her family in Connecticut, but her eyes are on the future. Besides serving as a sustainability coordinator, she is a student representative on the College Sustainability Working Group. She majors in sociology and French. Looking for a bit of inspiration, we asked Curran two questions related to Earth Day 2020. Here’s what she said.

Do you see any possibility for lessons learned out of this global shutdown that has also put the brakes on our spewing co2 into the environment?

I think this global shutdown shows us that radical change is possible. For years  environmental activists have been calling for extreme measures to combat climate change – and governments, large corporations, and consumers have largely claimed that changes on this scale are impossible. My hope is that as a society we are able to learn from what is a horrific situation, and realize that sustainable changes are not only possible, but essential to our long-term survival. It is heartening to see how people have quickly adapted in order to remain connected, and support one another during this pandemic. For example, I’m really encouraged by the quick adoption and normalization of things like virtual conferences that eliminate air travel, and I believe that measures like these will continue when the pandemic is over. My hope is that we recognize the potential for a paradigm shift, and capitalize on it to create a more sustainable, thoughtful, and just society.

As an outgoing senior, what's your biggest hope for the College sustainability coordinators when they come back to campus?

I have been so impressed by our dedicated team of Hamilton sustainability coordinators, and I’m confident they will do big things next fall. As an outgoing senior, I hope HSC continues to engage and educate the student body and the larger Clinton community on sustainability issues. This year we’ve partnered with residential life to implement peer-to-peer sustainability programming in first-year residence halls, and that will expand to every dorm next fall (bringing sustainability to a dorm near you!). We also have many ideas in the pipeline for terrific events that include Hamilton College and the Clinton community. We hope to hold a community trash pickup in partnership with the Village of Clinton, and plan on hosting an enormous sustainable farmer’s market featuring produce and products from local vendors. I know in the coming year HSC will continue to connect with our community, promote stewardship and sustainability through creative events, and uphold our commitment to sustainable practices.

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