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Divestment Movement Continues at Harvard

By Indrani G. Das, Crimson Staff Writer

A year after its inception, Divest Harvard continues to garner support from many students, faculty, and other members of the community for its efforts to force the University to divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies.

On Monday, the coalition of students, faculty, and alumni will host an event in front of the Science Center featuring Oliver W. Stephenson ’90 and other alumni speakers.

And on Friday, the group hosted a “Teach In,” an information session that featured faculty from across the Universityincluding chemistry professor James G. Anderson and history professor Joyce E.Chaplinalong with Divest Harvard Faculty Outreach Coordinator Hannah M. Borowsky ’15 and Harvard Business School alum Robert K. Massie.

Over 300 colleges and universities nationwide are active in promoting the divestment of holdings in fossil fuel companies. The city of San Francisco, Unity College, and Hampshire College are among the institutions that have divested. Last week, the First Parish Church in Harvard Square hung up a banner which read, “We divested, your turn Harvard.”

The Divest Harvard movement gained traction last spring when a petition calling for Harvard to divest garnered more than 1,300 signatures and was delivered to the Harvard Corporation. On the Divest Harvard website, the group invokes environmental pleas to justify its calls for the University to immediately freeze its investments in “fossil fuel corporations.”

“This isn’t just any problem,” Massie said. “This is a problem about the destruction of life on Earth.”

Anderson said that the University would face a host of logistical issues should climate change cause the Arctic to melt, which he said could result in the city of Allston being submerged underwater.

“It’s not about global warming,” Anderson said. “It’s about fundamental, irreversible changes to the structure of the world’s climate.”

While aware of the concerns of environmentalists, University leaders have not demanded that the Harvard Management Company—which oversees the University’s endowment and financial assets—change its investment strategy.

At a forum hosted by the Undergraduate Council and the Harvard Graduate Council last October, University President Drew G. Faust said that HMC is committed to generating funds to support education and research and not to advancing particular agendas. In November, a Harvard spokesperson said that the University is not considering divestment.

—Staff writer Indrani G. Das can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @IndraniGDas.

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