Advertisement

Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 677–690 | Cite as

Justice is the goal: divestment as climate change resistance

  • Eve BratmanEmail author
  • Kate Brunette
  • Deirdre C. Shelly
  • Simon Nicholson
Article

Abstract

This article takes a sympathetic look at the university fossil fuel divestment movement. The push for divestment is changing the conversation about what “sustainability” means for college campuses. It is also generating a new, more critical and politically engaged cadre of climate activists. We use a shared auto-ethnographic approach from student activists’ and professors’ perspectives to analyze the campus divestment movement based on the experience of American University’s Fossil Free AU campaign. We argue that this issue is one where sustainability politics are re-politicized as they challenge traditional power relations and conceptualizations of what environmentalism entails. The case study explores how a climate justice framework, radical perspectives, and inside/outsider strategies were used within the campaign. We argue that the campus fossil fuel divestment movement holds potential to change the university’s expressed values from complicity with fossil fuel economies toward an emergent paradigm of climate justice, stemming predominantly from student activism. The work presents new vantage points for understanding the relationship of personal experience, local campaigns of ecological resistance, and sustainability politics more broadly.

Keywords

Divestment Fossil fuel Climate change Higher education Activism 

References

  1. AASHE (2015) STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System) Report. Philadelphia: Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)Google Scholar
  2. Agyeman J, Bullard R, Evans B (2003) Just sustainabilities: development in an unequal world. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  3. American University (2008) Leadership for a changing world: American University Strategic Plan. American University, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  4. American University (2014) About American University. American University, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  5. American University Office of Sustainability (2014) Solar project to bring energy to three D.C. institutions. American University, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  6. Ansar A, Caldecott B, Tillbury J (2013) Stranded assets and the fossil fuel divestment campaign: what does divestment mean for the valuation of fossil fuel assets? In Stranded Assets Programme, 81. Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  7. Ball J (2014) The truth about Stanford’s coal divestment. In: The new republicGoogle Scholar
  8. Bond P (2012) Politics of climate justice: paralysis above, movement below. KwaZulu-Natal Press, PietermaritzburgGoogle Scholar
  9. Bullard RD (1996) Unequal protection: environmental justice and communities of color. Sierra Club Books, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  10. Bullard N, Müller T (2012) Beyond the ‘Green Economy’: system change, not climate change? Development 55:54–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cole LW, Foster SR (2000) From the ground up: environmental racism and the rise of the environmental justice movement. NYU Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Denzin NK (2006) Analytic autoethnography, or déjà vu all over again. J Contemp Ethnogr 35:419–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Di Chiro G (2009) Living environmentalisms: coalition politics, social reproduction, and environmental justice. In: Bomberg E, Schlosberg D (eds) Environmentalism in the United States: changing conceptions of activism. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Falk R (1971) This endangered planet: prospects and proposals for human survival. Vintage Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Falk R (1975) A study of future worlds. Free Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Fund RB (2014) Divestment Statement.Google Scholar
  17. Gottlieb R (2001) Environmentalism unbound: exploring new pathways for change. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  18. Grady-Benson J, Sarathy B (2015) Fossil fuel divestment in US higher education: student-led organising for climate justice. Local Environment 1-21Google Scholar
  19. Inayatullah N (2011) Autobiographical International Relations: I, IR. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. IPCC (2014) Summary for policymakers. In: Edenhofer O, Pichs-Madruga R, Sokona Y, Farahani E, Kadner S, Seyboth K, Adler A, Baum I, Brunner S, Eickemeier P, Kriemann B, Savolainen J, Schlömer S, von Stechow C, Zwickel T, Minx JC (eds) Climate change 2014: mitigation of climate change. Contribution of working group III to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  21. Kaplan J, Raman R (2014) American University recognized as one of the greenest and “coolest” schools. American University, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  22. Klein N (2014) This Changes Everything: capitalism vs. climate. Simon & Schuster, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Kumarakulasingam N (2014) Bloody translations: the politics of international compassion and horror. Journal of Narrative Politics 1:61–75 Google Scholar
  24. Lapin, L (2014) Stanford to divest from coal companies. Stanford News May 6 2014Google Scholar
  25. Mandaville P (2011) Cosmography recapitulates biography: an epilogue, Peter Mandaville In Autobiographical International Relations: I, IR, Ed. N. Inayatullah, 196–203. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. McKibben B (2012) Global warming’s terrifying new math. In Rolling Stone.Google Scholar
  27. Merkel J, Litten L, Litten L (2007) The sustainability challenge. In: Terkla LLAD (ed) Advancing sustainability in higher education: new directions for institutional research. Wiley Periodicals, San Francisco, pp 7–26Google Scholar
  28. Moellendorf D (2012) Climate change and global justice. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Chang 3:131–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Neumann IB (2010) Autobiography, ontology, autoethnology. Rev Int Stud 36:1051–1055CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nicholson S, Chong D (2011) Jumping on the human rights bandwagon: how rights-based linkages can refocus climate politics. Globa Environ Polit 11:121–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Novotny P (2000) Where we live, work, and play: the environmental justice movement and the struggle for a new environmentalism. Praeger, WestportGoogle Scholar
  32. Parenti C (2013) A worthy goal, but a suspect method. The New york times. January 27 2013: Op-EdGoogle Scholar
  33. Pearson M (2006) “In comes I”: performance, memory and landscape. University of Exeter Press, Exeter, UKGoogle Scholar
  34. Ralph M, Stubbs W (2014) Integrating environmental sustainability into universities. High Educ 67:71–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Schlosberg D (2007) Defining environmental justice: theories, movements, and nature. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UKCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schlosberg D (2013) Theorising environmental justice: the expanding sphere of a discourse. Environ Polit 22:37–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schlosberg D, Collins LB (2014) From environmental to climate justice: climate change and the discourse of environmental justice. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Clim Chang 5:359–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Shue H (1999) Global environment and international inequality. Int Aff 75:531–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sine JA (2013) Action on proposals related to socially responsible investment. Ed. A. U. Community, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  40. Sine JA (2014) Fall 2014 board of trustees meeting—sustainability & fossil free discussion and decision. In: AU Community (ed). American University, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  41. Thomashow M (2014) The nine elements of a sustainable campus. MIT Press, BostonGoogle Scholar
  42. Vincent S (2009) Growth in Environmental studies and science programs. Asso Environ Stud Sci 2:1–2Google Scholar
  43. Wall S (2008) Easier said than done: writing an autoethnography. Int J Qual Methods 7:38–53Google Scholar
  44. Wright N (2011) Christianity and Environmental Justice. CrossCurrents 61:161–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© AESS 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eve Bratman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kate Brunette
    • 1
  • Deirdre C. Shelly
    • 1
  • Simon Nicholson
    • 1
  1. 1.American UniversityWashington DCUSA

Personalised recommendations