More faculty backing student-led fossil fuel divestment movement at many Boston area colleges

The largely student-led movement at many Boston area colleges urging their schools to divest from fossil fuel companies is getting an important boost from faculty.

Faculty members at Harvard University, Boston University, Boston College, Tufts University, and Brandeis University have written open letters, formed groups, or joined student movements to call on administrators at their respective institutions to divest from companies that produce coal, oil and gas, blamed for climate change.

The professors are holding educational talks about climate change or participating in other events designed to raise awareness.

Their involvement is seen as important to the credibility of the divestment movement.

"It's one thing for these crazy kids to be calling for fossil fuel divestment, but it's another when you have some of the leading scientists and economists in the world standing behind us," Geoffrey Supran, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of a group calling for divestment there, told The Boston Globe ( ).

Many of the professors have experience in social activism.

Julian Agyeman, a professor of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts, said many faculty members there who support the movement are veterans of the campaigns to divest from South Africa in the 1970s and '80s.

"What we've tried to do with our students is say 'this is your anti-apartheid movement, this is your social justice divestment campaign,' " Agyeman said.

Fossil fuel divestment efforts have had mixed results. Fourteen colleges have committed to divesting from fossil fuels in some form. Others have resisted. Harvard President Drew Faust said last fall it would not divest of its fossil fuel investments. Boston University has established a committee to explore whether to divest, in response, in part, to a petition signed by almost 250 faculty members.


Information from: The Boston Globe,