More than a dozen campus groups came together last week to hold Harvard’s first-ever “Intersectional Earth Week,” which featured a series of events focusing on the relationships between climate change and identity.
Intersectional Earth Week — which was co-sponsored by the Harvard Climate Coalition and the Harvard Undergraduate Association — ran from April 17 to April 22 and featured panels, art installations, and workshops. Participating organizations included the Harvard Kennedy School Program on Science, Technology, and Society, Act on a Dream, and Harvard Undergraduates for Environmental Justice.
According to Lizbeth D. Ibarra ’26, a co-organizer of the week and member of HCC, the idea of organizing an Intersectional Earth Week arose from the Coalition’s previous work uplifting “the communities that are on the frontlines of the climate crisis and the voices that are often left out.”
“We know that there’s specific communities — low-income communities, communities of color, marginalized communities — that have faced the consequences of the climate crisis for a really long time,” she said. “But on campus, those voices aren’t necessarily represented.”
One of the events — a collaboration between affinity groups Latinas Unidas, Fuerza Latina, the Black Students Association, and the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association — sought to amplify underrepresented voices in a panel on pursuing environmental justice for marginalized groups in Boston.
During the panel, local environmental justice organizers Latifa Ziyad, Norieliz DeJesus, and Nicholas Oviedo-Torres spoke about their personal experiences organizing and seeking justice for Boston residents at the forefront of the climate crisis.
Shania D. Hurtado ’25, a member of Latinas Unidas and an organizer of the event, described the talk as “equally angering and equally empowering.”
Conversations around climate change, Hurtado said, “tend to neglect the barriers that marginalized communities face when it comes to housing rights, when it comes to access to food, access to water, access to basic resources.”
“This event really aims to bring that to the forefront of the movement and start these conversations on campus on environmental justice,” said Hurtado, a Crimson Editorial editor.
During the week, the Harvard Undergraduate Urban Sustainability Lab installed a mural called “Power Connected” in the Science Center.
In the mural, two individuals are depicted holding hands across power lines with a bright sky in the background. According to the piece’s description, the artwork “depicts the interconnectivity of our modern world” and “emphasizes the human need to proactively support transmission to prevent stranded power generation and ensure a sustainable energy future for all.”
Grace Cen ’23, the organizer of the installation and a co-president of the Urban Sustainability Lab, said she wanted to use art as a medium for her message because of its “history of resilience and community engagement.”
“The clean energy grid is beautiful. It’s intricate and dynamic. And we wanted to deliberately make sure people felt connected to this message and felt like this message was very human instead of something that is often very invisible,” she said. “A lot of infrastructure typically is invisible to us.”
HCC Co-Founder Michael R. Waxman ’25, another organizer of the week, said he hopes attendees learned more about aspects of climate change that are often overlooked.
“I’m hoping that people can really have a shifted perspective in how they understand the climate crisis through this week, and even have a deeper understanding of how the climate crisis is so embedded into them as a person or into their community,” he said.
Waxman said he also hopes Intersectional Earth Week can “build bridges” on campus.
“I’m hoping that Intersectional Earth Week is the launching pad for so many more collaborations that the Climate Coalition can help facilitate between climate groups, non-climate groups, affinity groups, all kinds of groups, and just keep building this incredible community of people who really want to make change together,” he said.