Greenpeace was founded in 1971 by a small group of activists standing up to nuclear testing off the Alaskan Coast. These daring few effectively won a total ban on nuclear testing and launched Greenpeace's legacy of "bearing witness" to environmental abuse. We continue to use non-violent direct action, creative confrontation, and grassroots organizing to build solutions to global warming, toxic pollution, and destruction of our ancient forests and oceans. Today, Greenpeace is the world's largest environmental organization, with 2.5 million members in 40 countries, and continues to lead the way to a clean and peaceful planet.
The Greenpeace Semester started in the fall of 2004. Originally called the Greenpeace Organizing Term, the program was born out of the idea that training passionate student activists in the key skills of grassroots organizing, strategic campaigning, and non-violent direct action was crucial to empowering the next generation to save the planet.
The first class had five students, and from there the program grew. Activists in the program – whether during their Semester or afterward - have had active roles in many of Greenpeace’s efforts over the last several years. Students were a major part of our work to protect the Boreal Forest from unsustainable logging practices by tissue giant Kimberly-Clark and our work to protect threatened fish species by convincing popular grocer Trader Joe’s to stop selling red-listed seafood. They have organized communities to show their elected officials that Americans want real action from our government on climate change and that they don’t want to rely on dirty, dangerous fossil fuels or nuclear energy. They have confronted major electronics companies like Apple and Dell on the use of toxic materials in their products – and made a positive impact in the industry.
Over 400 young people have completed the program since its inception, and many continue to work fighting for the planet, either on their campuses, in their local communities, or as staff or active volunteers with Greenpeace and other organizations.