Graduate students at the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability are working in teams to set up an Earth Month Advocacy Global Initiative Center (EMAGIC) on campus. EMAGIC is a class project stemming from the noticeable ecological changes witnessed throughout the initial month of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the response to this contagious viral outbreak was having most countries in the world calling for national shutdowns that stopped all forms of travel, forced most people to retreat indoors, and caused many industries and businesses to close for weeks. By April 22nd (Earth Day), there were news reports about the reduction in air pollution over major cities around the world, the improvement in water clarity and quality in rivers and coastal areas in many countries, and the visible presence of woodland wildlife roaming down Main Streets across America. This series of environmental phenomenon made many scientists and citizens aware of the global scope of nature’s ecological healing and regeneration powers when human progress was almost slowed down to a halt for 30 days.
Since the spring of 2020, teams of students in the PCGS course titled, Concepts and Principles of Sustainability, have been tasked with contributing to the fruition of an Earth Month Advocacy Global Initiative Center in order to promote the idea of expanding Earth Day to Earth Month. The hope is to give the planet a moment to regenerate every year, but also to inspire a more sustainable mindset in all areas of life so that, eventually, every day is Earth Day. Establishment of the physical EMAGIC at the Patel College of Global Sustainability campus in Tampa is a future goal, but as of right now a resourceful web page is being developed. The EMAGIC website will aim to educate the public on the reality of current environmental circumstances while also providing tools to get involved in efforts to minimize environmental harm. Creating a system of communication that encourages public participation is an important aspect of the Earth Month Advocacy Initiative and some ways to do that are: Mayoral proclamation of an official Earth Month to promote civic participation in the initiative, creation of social media challenges, and displaying weekly Earth Month events. In early March, Patel College students requested a proclamation of Earth Month from Jane Castor, the current Mayor of Tampa. They asked that the month of April 22nd to May 22nd be declared Earth Month in the City of Tampa. The drafted proclamation was reviewed and modified by the Mayor’s Office and April 2023 was officially declared to be Earth Month by the City of Tampa. The official proclamation is displayed below: