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After years of urging, Harvard reaches a divestment moment

From left, Brett Roche, Olivia Kivel, Talia Rothstein, and other members of Divest Harvard block an entrance to an administration building on Harvard's campus in a protest on April 13, 2015.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

University’s break from fossil fuels could have widespread impact

I was struck by the recent article regarding Harvard’s divestment from fossil fuels (“Fossil fuels cut from Harvard’s portfolio,” Page A1, Sept. 11). The letter sent by Harvard president Lawrence Bacow stated that Harvard will not make any new fossil fuel investments and will let others be phased out over time. However, what is truly significant is that Harvard has written a letter to the entire Harvard community of staff, students, and 400,000 alumni to say that climate change “is the most consequential threat facing humanity.” By addressing all alumni as well as students, Harvard has promoted a level of understanding that reaches into every segment of society, encouraging actions at all levels.


In addition, Bacow’s letter notes that the university has appointed its first vice provost for climate and sustainability to integrate Harvard’s actions on climate. In doing so, it has elevated climate to the overarching issue upon which everything depends.

Harvard has more clearly and aggressively addressed the most serious issue ever to face civilization. Now it behooves all universities to follow its lead.

Susan Shamel

Hillsborough, N.H.

After a decade of protest, some fanfare would have been appreciated

Harvard has divested, and this alumna is no longer quite so ashamed of her alma mater. However, I’m not happy that it took so long and, when done, was announced not with a bang, but a whimper.

Heaven forbid Harvard president Lawrence Bacow use the “divest” word — people might think Harvard had caved to a decade of persistent calls from its community — or that he call a press conference and make an announcement, encouraging other institutions to follow suit.

But we persisted, and they divested. Onward, climate activists!

Susan Donaldson