A group of University affiliates call for divestment from fossil fuels in front of Massachusetts Hall in February. Photo: Alexandra A. Chaidez
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Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences called on University President Lawrence S. Bacow to lead a Faculty discussion on Harvard’s fossil fuel investments, citing “widespread, deep, and reasonable disagreement” with Bacow’s response to the issue.
Philosophy Professor Edward J. Hall raised the issue on behalf of nine professors during the Faculty’s monthly meeting Tuesday. The group asked Bacow to host an open forum or dedicate a portion of a Faculty meeting to the issue, and to include members of the Harvard Corporation — the University’s highest governing body — in the discussion.
“We are not in the first instance a mere corporation, where all substantive decisions are taken by managers,” Hall said. “We are a college, committed to open intellectual debate even on issues that might directly affect our own future.”
“It would, in our view, be ethically and intellectually irresponsible not to let Harvard’s response to this crisis be guided by serious and sustained community-wide discussion,” he added.
Bacow responded that he would be “happy” to fulfill the professors’ request and would see if he could include a member of the Corporation in the discussions. He did not commit to any changes in investment decisions.
The Faculty members’ demand comes amid renewed student-led calls for Bacow and the University’s investment arm, the Harvard Management Company, to withdraw controversial investments, including those in the fossil fuel industry and in companies tied to prisons. In recent months, students have delivered multiple petitions to Massachusetts Hall regarding divestment.