How Do the Students and Professors Feel?
Students across the country have long campaigned against donations from fossil fuel companies, which has encouraged some universities to divest, such as Berkeley in 2020. Students at Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Vanderbilt, and MIT even launched a student-led lawsuit in 2022 because universities must invest in a manner consistent with their “charitable purposes”. The legal strategy was established around the idea that the law imposes a legal duty to put the public interest first, and that investing in fossil fuel companies could cause damage to the environment and health.
In the report, a poll is provided based on the statement “Colleges and universities studying the impacts of climate change and sustainability should refuse donations from fossil fuel companies so they can remain unbiased in their research.” Of the voters interviewed, 67% agreed.
Refusing this funding to expand research capabilities may seem counterintuitive when coming from educational institutions. However, many universities have set ambitious climate targets in recent years. While many schools are bringing green energy technology to campuses across the country, several continue to accept donations from oil and gas majors, often in direct contradiction to their climate aims. To date, 337 U.S. universities and colleges, covering almost 3.7 million students, have signed up for the international “race to zero” pledge.
However, many universities and academics argue that insight from energy firms is vital to forming comprehensive research. Many professors rely on experts in the field to provide accurate information and verify the technical applications of theories and technologies. George Huber, at the University of Wisconsin, said that energy firms “provide a lot of guidance and they keep you honest”. Huber explained “Oftentimes you’ll see professors make statements about energy that are not technically correct and work on technology that can’t be implemented. And people from the industry, they understand what the technology needs to have to be implemented at an industrial scale.”
Published at Wed, 29 Mar 2023 11:57:07 -0700