The signers of this letter are a group of Bowdoin faculty who are deeply concerned about the effects of anthropogenic climate change on human welfare and life on earth. In our view, 30 years of scientific evidence have unambiguously linked the mining and burning of fossil fuels to disruptive climate change, ocean acidification and global loss of biodiversity. Bowdoin College has taken admirable steps in reducing its carbon footprint on campus, but the magnitude of the problem calls for bolder action.

We urge Bowdoin College to begin immediately to divest its endowment of fossil fuels as a statement of principle and as an important educational gesture in support of the hundreds of Bowdoin students who have called for faculty action on climate change. Divestment will demonstrate that the College is sincere in what we teach our students about climate change and the urgency of current environmental problems, and it will align the investments the College chooses to profit from with Bowdoin’s fundamental values.

Divestment should be carried out gradually and responsibly. We acknowledge that it may impose costs in terms of the institution’s financial returns; thus, it should be done with a careful eye to safeguarding the College’s core programs and commitments. Initially it should target the most egregious companies and the dirtiest fossil fuel sources, such as coal and oil from tar sands (see, for example, the 200 companies listed in the Cornell University Faculty Senate’s Resolution calling for divestment).

We recognize that faculty, staff and students of Bowdoin College need to reduce our own use of fossil fuels, and align our personal financial investments with the values we espouse. We realize that divestment will not solve the problem of the world’s overreliance on fossil fuels. Therefore, we also call for concerted action by the entire Bowdoin community to build a nationwide coalition of higher education institutions to demand that Congress enact a comprehensive energy bill, end public subsidies for oil and gas companies and put a price on fuels that reflects their true environmental and social costs. Divestment by Bowdoin College and efforts to create coalitions to effect change at a broader level will show genuine leadership on this critical global issue and help shift the national conversation towards meaningful solutions to the increasingly urgent problem of climate change. 

Respectfully yours,
William Barker
Sean Barker
Greg Beckett
Michael Birenbaum Quintero
Margaret Boyle
Franklin Burroughs
Nadia Celis
David Collings
Sarah Conly
David Conover
Elena Cueto-Asín
Erin Curren
Katherine Dauge-Roth
Charles Dorn
Vladimir Douhovnikoff
Gustavo Faveron Patriau
Eric Gaze
David Gordon
Robert Greenlee
Laura Henry
John Holt
Sree Padma Holt
Hadley Horch
Alanna Hoyer-Leitzel
Mary Hunter
Nancy Jennings
Amy Johnson
Brian Kim
Jennifer Kosak
John Lichter
Mary Lou Zeeman
Scott MacEachern
Stephen Majercik
Sarah Mak
Frank Mauceri
Tracy McMullen
Robert Morrison
Jeff Nagle
Jack O’Brien
Kristi Olson
Elizabeth Pritchard
Emily Peterman
Brian Purnell
Patrick Rael
Collin Roesler
Arielle Saiber
Paul Sarvis
Vineet Shende
Accra Shepp
Larry Simon
Allen Springer
Beth Stemmler
Daniel Stone
Rachel Sturman
Alana Tiemessen
Rick Thompson
Laura Toma
John Turner
Esmeralda Ulloa
David Vail
June Vail
Olufemi Vaughan
Hanetha Vete-Congolo
Susan Wegner
Allen Wells
Tricia Welsch
Eugenia Wheelwright
Nathaniel Wheelwright
Carolyn Wolfenzon Niego
Enrique Yepes