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Why Sterling College Divested from Fossil Fuels

Colleges and universities across the United States have an obligation to speak out on the critical environmental and social issues facing our country. The calamitous effects of climate change are directly linked to the educational mission of Sterling College and its focus on ecology and sustainable agriculture.

Sterling College is proud to be the first college in Vermont and only the third in the United States to announce that it will soon divest its endowment from the two hundred fossil fuel companies identified by in its effort to move higher education toward fossil free investment. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously at its February 2, 2013 meeting to instruct the investment team to take this action and to move swiftly to divest.

We are predicting no negative economic impact for the College from our divestment efforts. Our investment strategy is now fully informed by our values.


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At Sterling, we have a long history of environmental stewardship. We were among the first colleges to focus on sustainability through academic majors in conservation ecology, outdoor education and sustainable agriculture. Everything about what we teach and how we teach is geared towards building a world that works. And since our leadership team is inspired daily by the values and integrity of our faculty and students, we want to do our part to make sure the planet we all inherit is not too hot or dry or stormy for us to farm, and that the shift to sustainable, local economies will not be undermined by the extreme weather that comes with climate change.

In taking this important action, the College and its Board of Trustees is affirming its commitment to its mission to educate problem solvers. Our legacy and focus on protecting the environment and sustainable agricultural practices absolutely compels us to take this action. We hope that we inspire other colleges and universities to take this important next step toward divestment in fossil fuels, because higher education is an important platform for this dialogue and we need to bring the nation's attention on this critical issue.

Matthew Derr

Matthew Derr is President of Sterling College in Vermont, one of the leading voices in for environmental stewardship and the liberal arts. Sterling was one of the first colleges in the United States to focus on conservation ecology, outdoor education, and sustainable agriculture.

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