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Faculty to Push Bacow for Divestment at Upcoming Meeting

Tourists take photos of the John Harvard statue in front of University Hall.
Tourists take photos of the John Harvard statue in front of University Hall. By Jenny M. Lu
By Jonah S. Berger and Molly C. McCafferty, Crimson Staff Writers

Several Faculty of Arts and Sciences professors will lead a discussion on divesting Harvard’s endowment from fossil fuel companies at the monthly Faculty meeting Tuesday.

History professor Joyce E. Chaplin, Economics professor Stephen A. Marglin, and Astronomy professor Charles Conroy will address whether Harvard’s response to climate change should include divestment from “fossil fuel interests,” according to the meeting agenda. University President Lawrence S. Bacow agreed in April to host such a discussion at a future faculty meeting after multiple professors demanded he do so.

The discussion comes as student and alumni activists have maintained pressure on Bacow to reconsider the longstanding position of University presidents not to divest from Harvard’s holdings in the fossil fuel industry. More than 380 faculty members have also signed a petition calling on Harvard to divest from fossil fuels.

Bacow has offered multiple rationales for continued investment, including that Harvard should work with industry players to address climate change.

At last month’s faculty meeting, three professors broached the issue of climate change in preparation for the November forum — though Bacow was not in attendance.

The faculty members drew at times on their own academic work to share information about the history and scope of the issue. At the meeting, Philosophy professor Edward J. Hall called on Harvard to demonstrate “true leadership” to the public, garnering thunderous applause from faculty.

The Faculty will discuss tweaks to existing legislation on course scheduling at Tuesday’s meeting. The Faculty Council — FAS’s highest governing body — voted earlier this month to approve the changes, which include attempts to evenly distribute courses throughout the week.

FAS Registrar Michael P. Burke, who brought the proposed changes before the Council earlier this month, will present the proposal to the full faculty Tuesday.

Under the proposed changes, faculty members no longer need administrative approval to begin seminars at 9:45 a.m. or 12:45 p.m., instead of the typical designated start times for classes of 9 a.m. or 12 p.m..

Burke will also propose a change that mandates departments distribute courses that meet once per week evenly throughout the week. Previously, FAS only required classes meeting at least four times per week to conform to such restrictions.

—Staff writer Jonah S. Berger can be reached at jonah.berger@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonahberger98.

—Staff writer Molly C. McCafferty can be reached at molly.mccafferty@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @mollmccaff.

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