Special Campus Memo: Fossil Fuels and Climate Impact Task Force

September 05, 2017

Dear fellow members of the Grinnell community,

Last spring, Patricia Finkelman '80, chair of the Grinnell College Board of Trustees, appointed a Fossil Fuels and Climate Impact Task Force to explore issues related to fossil fuel divestment in an unbiased, intellectually rigorous, transparent, and inclusive manner. The task force consists of three trustees: Michael Kahn '74 (task force chair), Kathryn Mohrman '67, and Edward Senn '79.

With a strongly shared interest in wanting to see the College have a positive impact on climate, the task force has expanded its focus to also consider actions that the College can take to reduce its carbon footprint, and curricular modifications that support student education about the global climate change problem.

Addressing this issue presents the board with an opportunity to model how shared governance and transparency can work in a higher education community in dealing with important public issues.

At the board's annual meeting in spring 2018, the task force will make a recommendation regarding the question of fossil fuel divestment, as well as recommendations regarding other actions the College can take to positively impact climate.

In support of the board's task force, President Kington appointed an advisory committee chaired by Professor Wayne Moyer and made up of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who represent a range of perspectives on fossil fuel divestment as a means to combat climate change. The advisory committee will not make policy recommendations. Its role is to identify and recommend a wide variety of resources, including relevant research, position papers, and experts, for the task force to review and consult this fall, ahead of the April board meeting.

Experts and advocates will present information in a series of public events during the fall semester:

  • Monday, Sept. 18, and Tuesday, Sept. 19: Managing Grinnell's endowment, trustee stewardship, and investment decisions
  • Tuesday, Oct. 3, Wednesday, Oct. 4, and Thursday, Oct. 5: Developing insights on the pluses and minuses of fossil fuel divestment and other actions investors can take to positively impact climate
  • Monday, Nov. 7, and Tuesday, Nov. 8: Divestment decisions by other colleges, reducing the College's carbon footprint, providing more curricular support, and exploring sustainability efforts

The task force members plan to attend all of these events, and are committed to openly engaging with the campus community in this process. All members of the Grinnell community will be invited to attend.

A website has been established to ensure that the task force's resources on climate action are broadly available to the College community and where all material presented to the task force will be archived.

We look forward to thoughtful, productive engagement as we explore these important and complex issues.


Wayne Moyer, Advisory Committee Chair, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science
Michael Kahn '74, Task Force Chair, Member of the Board of Trustees

We use cookies to enable essential services and functionality on our site, enhance your user experience, provide a better service through personalized content, collect data on how visitors interact with our site, and enable advertising services.

To accept the use of cookies and continue on to the site, click "I Agree." For more information about our use of cookies and to opt-out of cookies at any time, please refer to our website Privacy Policy.