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Focus the Nation Symposium

March 11, 2007

Hold the date–January 31, 2008.

If Focus the Nation realizes its ambition, that date will represent a galvanizing moment and a key rallying point in the fight against global warming.

The event’s organizers hope to mobilize students, faculty, and staff at college campuses and high schools across the country for a one-day national symposium.

The theme for the event will be “Global Warming Solutions for America.” The approach will be interdisciplinary, looking at the impact of climate change from an array of perspectives–scientific, economic, sociological, artistic. The focus will be on finding solutions and taking action. And if all goes as planned, hundreds of thousands of participants at more than a thousand schools will get involved.

“We owe our young people a truly national day of focused conversation about global warming solutions,” Goodstein says.

The idea for Focus the Nation came to Goodstein a year ago, like an energy-efficient compact fluorescent lightbulb suddenly appearing over his head.

Since then, he has been busy organizing event logistics and recruiting prominent names to the event’s advisory board (including Gary Hart, former U.S. senator; Denis Hayes, Earth Day founder; and Gus Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies). In the fall, he started a yearlong sabbatical from his campus duties and undertook a national tour of campuses and schools to build a support network for the event.

The Focus the Nation concept harkens back to the “teach-ins” of the 1960s, except that classes will not be canceled and participation will be strictly voluntary. By giving organizers a year to prepare, Goodstein hopes that teachers will incorporate discussion and debate about global warming into their classrooms in a thoughtful way that educates students and spurs activism.

“Everywhere I go,” Goodstein says, “from Hostos Community College in the Bronx to Stanford in Palo Alto, people are excited about the idea.”

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