Colleges Should Divest Fossil-Fuel Stocks

To the Editor:

While it’s encouraging to know that college endowments aren’t likely to suffer from shedding fossil-fuel investments (“Divesting From Fossil-Fuel Companies Is Unlikely to Harm Endowments, Report Says,The Chronicle, January 29), divestment would be a good idea regardless of its economic impacts on university portfolios. The business model of big oil and coal companies is profoundly destructive, relying as it does on annually reintroducing millions of years’ worth of fossilized carbon into the atmosphere in a geological eyeblink, without regard for the climatic consequences.

While “bottom line” rationales are popular and convenient, we must remember that one of the deepest goals of higher education is the inculcation of a broad sense of responsibility to and for the greater social good. We do not teach subjects; we teach human beings—and the quality of our teaching is reflected in our students’ commitment to a better future.

And there is no surer guarantee of a worse future than continued support of fossil fuels. They may be hugely profitable, but fossil-fuel corporations epitomize an irresponsible disregard for our shared Earthly heritage and the continued happiness and prosperity of our descendants, and colleges and universities investing in them are abdicating their institutional responsibilities to our common posterity.

Warren Senders
Faculty of Music in Education
New England Conservatory of Music

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