Q&A with Andrew Friedland
Earlier this week, Stanford University announced that it would divest its endowment from coal companies, becoming the most prominent university to make the decision so far. Divest Dartmouth began a pushing the College to stop investing in all fossil fuel companies last year. This week, The Dartmouth discussed divestment with environmental studies professor Andrew Friedland.

How does divestment from fossil fuels affect a university, both financially and symbolically? I’m not the best person to answer from the financial perspective, but I think the basic answer would be that it limits Dartmouth’s choices for investments if you’re closing out one group, fossil fuel companies, companies that sell or transport or mine or extract fossil fuels. It makes an excellent symbol for a university or a campus to say we feel so strongly about this issue that we’ve chosen to sell all of the stocks or mutual funds or companies that are doing that kind of business. How will Stanford’s decision to divest from coal affect Dartmouth and other universities across the country? Stanford is a leader in higher education, so a lot of institutions will look very closely at what Stanford did and I suppose it could encourage or give courage to other institutions to do the same thing. But they chose to divest from coal companies, which in a way, is the easiest because of all the fossil fuels, coal is the nastiest. What is the role of student-led divestment movements? They’re speaking to the faculty, they’re speaking to their colleagues, they’re speaking to administrators and they’re asking really good questions. Divest Dartmouth and organizations like it at other institutions of higher learning are performing a wonderful role in asking questions and engaging debate. This interview has been edited and condensed.
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