Focus the Nation

Focus the Nation, a series of climate-change-focused educational events on over 1,000 campuses across the United States, is basically the student-centered cousin of Step It Up. And if you were one of the thousands who attended SIU (or SIU 2), you know that raising climate consciousness doesn’t have to be a drab affair. It can be a colorful, creative, youth-infused party of a time. Enter Focus the Nation.

Hoping to pick up where SIU left off, Focus the Nation is gathering together thousands of students and teachers for climate festivities, billing it as the largest teach-in in U.S. history. It all goes down Jan. 31. (Or, you know, whatever the kids say these days.)

In the lead-up to Jan. 31, over 1,000 campuses will be marking the occasion with a variety of events that promise to be as varied as the schools and students themselves, with the common theme of doing something already about the climate crisis. Two Missouri schools have decided to truck in 15 tons of coal for their Focus the Nation event that will serve as a life-sized visual aid showing students what their school consumes to produce just one hour of electricity. Other schools are planning everything from theatrical demonstrations to climate-themed plays to speeches by big-name celebs, greens, and politicians.

Then of course there are the teach-ins. Professors will devote a portion of their regular class time on Jan. 31 to teaching students about some aspect of climate change or let students out early to attend other climate-focused events. On Jan. 30 there’s also a pre-teach-in pep rally webcast featuring Ed Norton, Van Jones, and Hunter Lovins.

Focus the Nation organizers are treating the multicampus events as the most important climate activism in a long while, which it may well be — a vital, nonpartisan, feel-good time centered on confronting one of the most complex, potentially dire, intensely, gravely, astutely, acutely moral issues of our time (to paraphrase the Goracle).

Should be a kick in the pants … see you in class.