December 22, 2016
WHO: Barnard College President Debora L. Spar has added her name to an open letter from fellow leaders in higher education requesting that the incoming Trump administration take action to combat climate change and its negative effects. Developed by the higher education climate change network Second Nature, the letter will be sent to the administration January 13.
WHAT: The letter, which features nearly 200 signatures from college presidents and chancellors from around the country, asks President-elect Trump and members of Congress to support several efforts currently combatting climate change: participation in the Paris Agreement, academic and federal research, and investments in the low-carbon economy. The letter can be viewed here.
WHY: Barnard College enjoys a long history as a pioneer in environmental research and education, and is currently involved in a number of sustainability initiatives to reduce carbon emissions on its campus. Most recently, a student campaign for divestment from fossil fuels led to the commissioning of a Presidential Task Force to Examine Divestment. After a nine-month review, the task force, which consists of trustees, faculty, staff, and students, authored a comprehensive report of divestment options for its endowment. It recommended to the Board of Trustees that Barnard College divest from companies that deny climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change. The recommendation, which will be evaluated by the Trustees at their March 2017 meeting, is unique in higher education and would symbolize an innovative approach to fighting climate change.