Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences passed a motion at its monthly meeting Tuesday calling on the university to divest from fossil fuels.
Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard, a student group advocating for climate justice and development, released a statement detailing the 179-20 vote that it said expressed an "overwhelming desire for urgent and meaningful action in a time of climate crisis." The university controls a nearly $40 billion endowment, one of the largest in the country, according to the National Center for Endowments.
The vote is non-binding as the Harvard Corporation, the university's highest governing board, retains the authority to order divestments, according to the Fossil Fuel Divest Harvard release.
The Harvard Crimson reported Monday that English Department Chair Nicholas Watson was expected to present the motion to faculty for consideration at Tuesday's meeting. The exact text asks the Harvard Corporation to "instruct the Harvard Management Company to withdraw from and henceforth not pursue, investments in companies that explore for or develop further reserves of fossil fuels."
Tuesday's vote marks a trend in student climate groups advocating that their institutions divest from fossil fuels. The University of Pennsylvania recently announced it has no direct investments in thermal coal or tar sands industry and will not invest any more money in those industries.