Students from Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard recently filed an official complaint to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, arguing that the university’s investments in the fossil fuel industry are not just immoral, but illegal. A letter of support from faculty has come out in response- read below and sign on:
As Harvard faculty members, we share the concerns of students and alumni about the ways that the Harvard Corporation has invested and continues to invest a portion of its endowment in industries whose actions are so often detrimental to our world’s natural and human environment, namely, the fossil fuel industry. Science based evidence has amply demonstrated the necessity and urgency to turn away from such industries, industries that often have consciously misinformed and misled the public and undercut science. Financial prudence, too, requires avoiding risky and less and less profitable investments.
Nine years of campaigning, petitioning, and engaging with the Harvard administration have achieved only a distant commitment to decarbonize the portfolio by 2050, timid compared with the investment decisions of many other institutions, most recently Rutgers, the Rockefeller Foundation (The Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced divestment some time ago), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The urgency of climate change today requires a much stronger response.
By continuing investments in fossil fuel companies, the Corporation may be violating Massachusetts law governing the management of non-profit, charitable institutions, particularly its Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA). Investing in the fossil fuel industry contradicts our mission as scholars and teachers and endangers the future of the university.
This is why we support the complaint against the Harvard Corporation, which through its investments as well as its other actions, should fulfill its duties and responsibilities as the fiduciary of a non-profit, charitable, and educational institution.
Janet Beizer, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures
Sidney Chalhoub, David and Peggy Rockefeller Professor of History and of African and African American Studies
Joyce Chaplin, James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History
James Engell, Gurney Professor of English Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature
Virginie Greene, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures
Edward Hall, Norman E. Vuilleumier Professor of Philosophy
Alice Jardine, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality
Richard Parker, Lecturer in Public Policy and Senior Fellow, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy
Jim Recht, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Alexander Rehding, Fanny Peabody Professor of Music
Caren Solomon, Associate Professor of Medicine
Richard Thomas, George Martin Lane Professor of the Classics
Nicholas Watson, Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature
121 additional signatories as of 5/1/2021: