We are a coalition of students who are dedicated to ending the consumption of fossil fuels as soon as politically feasible. We say politically feasible, because ultimately, technological and economic challenges are far smaller than political challenges.

Brief History

Based at the University of Chicago, UCAN started in September, 2010 as the political action branch of the campus-based environmental group, Green Campus Initiative (GCI). Unlike other environmental groups on campus, UCAN organizes around political campaigns to place pressure on elected officials and leaders in the community to take action on climate and environmental injustice. In May, 2011, UCAN officially split from GCI and became an official, recognized student group at the University of Chicago.

In the first years, UCAN connected students to environmental campaigns in the greater Chicago area, teaming up with organizations like the Clean Power Coalition and the Sierra Club to work on campaigns such as successfully closing 2 coal-fired plants in Chicago (the Clean Power Ordinance), preventing the Keystone Pipeline, and urging IL state congress to de-fund the deceptive “Coal Education and Marketing Program,” taught in schools across the state. In Febraury, 2011, UCAN hosted a retreat with other Chicago-area schools including UIC, Loyola, DePaul, SAIC, and  Columbia University. At this retreat, Chicago Youth Climate Coalition (CYCC) was formed, which was the only official youth-based group member of the Clean Power Coalition. In 2013, CYCC joined a greater progressive coalition – the IIRON Student Network.

UCAN has worked on campaigns ranging from fracking to divesting UChicago’s endowment from fossil fuels. Members have attended environmental conferences across the country such as Power Shift (2011, Washington, DC) and the Divestment Student Network Conference (2014, San Francisco), partaken in actions such as the historic People’s Climate March (2014, NYC) and demonstrations across Chicago, and have been active leaders at tables for a variety of campaigns throughout Chicago and the SouthSide.

Please see our campaigns section to learn about our current efforts.


group pic 2014-2015


group pic 2012-2013