University Newspapers

I’ve finally finished in the Special Collections at Newcastle University. I was looking the their newspaper, Courier, published from 1948. Other than many, many articles on the state of university food (both price and quality) and accommodation issues, there was little directly related to the environment. In fact most students weren’t involved with any activism, at least if not related to food or board. In the 1960s things slowly changed with issues about civil rights, apartheid in South Africa, and lastly CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament).

But there was nothing directed towards the environment. Until, that is, I came to 1972, when issues begin to increase, mostly pertaining to ideas about population growth and sustainability, centred around the publication that year of A Blueprint for Survival (this can be accessed free online on The Ecologist‘s web archive of issues, 1970-1999 here:

There is discussion in one article, not of SOC’EM but of another environmental group locally, TEC – Tyneside Environment Concern. They, together with others (the North East section of the Conservation Society and Clean Air for Teesside) wanted a ‘Blueprint for the North East’. The article is interesting, insofar as it links social justice and environmental justice. TEC was holding a festival ‘Planning for People’ which described current planning in the city as crazy. The festival wanted to tackle issues pertaining to the North East – unemployment, the abandonment of mining communities, pollution and dereliction. It questioned whether tackling one would negatively affect another? All the problems could be tackled, the festival argued, by creating a new, sustainable society, a ‘Blueprint for the North East’.

Is this an early example of social ecology, argued by Murray Bookchin in Our Synthetic Environment, which said you could only solve environmental problems by solving social problems? I’m not sure – I don’t know how the festival was received. TEC do claim they are concerned with the quality of life, but more bothered about rampant materialism on the lives of everyone.


2 responses to “University Newspapers

  1. Hi Mark,
    I’ll have to read back through a few more posts to get up to speed on what you’re working on exactly, but I was struck here by your assertion that gripes about room and board were not “environmental.” While perhaps not precisely in the way you were looking for, I think such things are very much environmental–really what could be more environmental? I wonder if your approach might be less focused on where environmental sentiment appears, and more on where it evolves from. When I teach about the 60s and campus movements in the US I start by talking about the problems of the baby boom generation going to college. This glut of population descended upon a university system that was nowhere near equipped to handle its girth…the result was widespread gripes about bad food, cramped housing, parking, and inefficient administration. (The same things, students quickly realize, they themselves complain about every day) The movements for peace, civil rights, environmentalism and womens’ rights all capitalized upon and mobilized already irked and unsettled campus populations and channeled their anger to their own purposes.

    So I’d say don’t overlook seemingly petty gripes, they may prove the spark to the burner that heats your stew! Enjoying your blog so far–I love blogs about process and thinking through the craft. You might also enjoy Gale Kenney’s blog, also on wordpress, called Into the Archives.

    • That’s fair enough. I hadn’t considered room and board as being ‘environmental’. You’re right I should look at where it evolves from and this is one way it does. Certainly something to think about. I mean environmental activism and ideas stem from somewhere right? Thanks for pointing this out, will see if I can work it in. Actually it’s good as other than the ‘food and board’ stuff it doesn’t discuss environmental issues (as we’d perhaps understand them today) until 1972 so this could show an underlying consciousness earlier. Thanks. Will also check out Gale’s blog.

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