Barnard College Announces Next Steps in the Divestment Process

sustainability The following email was sent to Barnard students, faculty and staff on December 12, 2017.

Dear Members of the Barnard Community,

As I believe you know, Barnard has been engaged in thinking creatively and responsively about the challenge of protecting our environment. This past March, with input from the Barnard community, our Board of Trustees voted unanimously to divest our endowment from companies that dispute evidence of climate science or otherwise seek to thwart efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change. In so doing, Barnard was the first institution of higher education to pursue this innovative divestment approach consistent with its mission as an academic institution supporting the open exchange of scientific information, the free flow of information and transparency.

In the months since, we have been fully engaged in putting this decision to work. A divestment working group of students, faculty, and trustees has been convening with the goal of developing clear and rigorous criteria to evaluate companies’ statements, actions, and attitudes towards climate science and climate change. The group has outlined six criteria that the College, and other organizations, can use to judge a company’s attitudes and behaviors with respect to these issues.

The criteria will help evaluate whether a company acts in accordance with Barnard’s values as an academic institution—emphasizing the free flow of ideas, developing rigorous and credible evidence, and the importance of transparency—in supporting science and the science of climate change. The criteria that follow may be adjusted over time as new information and data sources come to light, but in their current form they make our values clear to investors asked to manage our endowment.

What is the company’s position on climate change?
What action is the company taking to reduce its carbon footprint?
Is climate science integral to the governance and oversight of the company
What are the company’s affiliations with third parties that spread disinformation on climate science?
Does the company publicly support the need for climate policies and regulations?
Has the company been publicly transparent about their position, actions and affiliations with regard to climate science and climate change??
As for next steps, College will work with Fossil Free Indexes (FFI), creators of The Carbon Underground 200 (CU200) list, to help refine its criteria, evaluate a subset of companies from their CU200 list, and develop a climate action list that can be used by Barnard and other organizations to make informed investment decisions.  The climate action list will be publicly available in the spring of 2018.

I would like to thank the working group for their hard work since the divestment decision was made last March, and I look forward to continuing our work and sharing future findings with the community.

For more information on the criteria and the forthcoming climate action list to visit the Divestment section of the website (


Rob Goldberg

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