Trent Faculty for Divestment

An Open Letter to Trent President Leo Groarke and Board of Governors,

Climate change is a very real and serious issue; extreme weather events, rising sea levels, crop failures, fresh water shortages, ocean acidification and species extinction are all examples of this. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change we need to make the switch from fossil fuels to renewables as quickly as possible. Currently, Trent’s investments in the fossil fuel industry are not aligned with our school’s Mission Statement to “Foster sustainability, in its environmental, social and economic dimensions, on our campuses and in all aspects of our work.” These investments are also undermining our reputation as a leader in environmental sustainability among Canadian universities. As a faculty member at Trent University, I support Sustainable Trent’s proposal to immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies, and to divest from direct ownership and from any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within five years. To not divest from fossil fuels would be to betray the students at this school, who deserve a future that is not defined by climate change catastrophe.


*Please note this Open Letter is for Faculty members only. If you are a student then please see our petition.


  1. Roger Lohmann, Associate Professor of Anthropology “Investing in unsustainable and polluting industries like fossil fuels is a losing game for all concerned, not least the investors and our security. Do the right thing in Trent’s name by shifting our energy investments to renewables.”
  2. Stephanie Rutherford, Assistant Professor of Environmental and Resource Studies
  3. Alan Slavin, Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy “An international restriction on fossil fuels must be established in the near future to protect the climate, just as the international agreement to eliminate CFC’s in the 1980’s protected the ozone layer which shields us from harmful ultraviolet radiation.  When this occurs, the value of shares in the fossil-fuel industry will decline rapidly.  Divesting now is good fiscal policy as well as moral policy.”
  4. Helen Haines, Assistant Professor (LTA) of Anthropology
  5. Raymond Dart, Director of Business Administration “We can show leadership here, in line with the institution that we want to be.”
  6. Kelly McGuire, Associate Professor of English
  7. Christine Freeman-Roth, CUPE Faculty, Department of Philosophy
  8. Jeff Adams, Assistant Professor of Psychology
  9. Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Professor and Chair of International Development Studies “There can be no doubt that climate change is the defining issue of our times. Reversing climate change will require a global effort that starts in the everyday acts of individuals and institutions. They will be required to dramatically cut their usage of hydrocarbons and switch to more sustainable energy sources. As a University that prides itself on its environmental stewardship, it is critical that the University take a lead on this matter.”
  10. Feyzi Baban, Associate Professor of International Development Studies and Political Studies
  11. Chris Beyers, Associate Professor of International Development Studies
  12. Stephen Homer, CUPE Course Instructor, Business Administration “The right thing to do, and a good way for us to get attention for living our values (talking about free media attention here).”
  13. Michael Fox, Professor of ERS/Biology
  14. Jacqueline Solway, Professor of International Development Studies and Anthropology
  15. Winnie Lem, Professor of International Development Studies
  16. Ian Attridge, Course Instructor, Environmental and Resource Studies “These are important steps towards achieving a sustainable community and addressing fundamental challenges in our national energy and economic systems. The Board has a broad fiduciary duty to anticipate and plan for these challenges. The recent falling price of oil and growing environmental and social impacts of climate change point again to the need for a more responsible path of change, including this phased, reasoned divestment strategy. Such a direction will attract positive attention to Trent University and its leading edge programs.”
  17. Susan Wurtele, Associate Professor, Department of Geography
  18. John Bishop, Professor, Business Administration and Sustainability Studies “It is disheartening to teach in the areas of business ethics, justice and capitalism, and sustainability at a University that still invests in fossil fuel.”
  19. Frederick Helleiner, Professor Emeritus of Geography “Those of us who have for years preached environmental prudence and individual action to sustain the environment would be hypocritical not to support action by the Board of Governors to divest its investments from firms producing fossil fuels.  As a beneficiary of the pension plan, I recognize the potential for a short-term reduction in my pension but am willing to make such a small sacrifice in order to ease my conscience.”
  20. Jim Conley, Associate Professor of Sociology
  21. Stephen Smith, CUPE 3908 “We have to be leaders in this area.”
  22. James Schaefer, Professor of Biology, Director of Environmental and Life Sciences Program
  23. Erica Nol, Professor of Biology “While I understand the difficulties in divesting completely from fossil fuel related industries, AND the difficulty in personally reducing my own consumption of fossil fuels, it is clearly the responsible approach for our future world. I appreciate the phased in approach to undertaking this challenge.”
  24. Marguerite Xenopoulos, Professor of Biology “Trent University has been a leader in the Environment since its inception 50 years ago. Let’s keep it that way.”
  25. Jocelyn Williams, Associate Professor of Anthropology
  26. Momin Rahman, Associate Professor of Sociology
  27. Finis Dunaway, Associate Professor of History
  28. Moira Howes, Associate Professor of Philosophy
  29. Paul Manning, Associate Professor of Anthropology “I (Paul Manning, Anthropology) endorse this initiative. Aside from the fact that it is the only sane possible approach to sustainable investment, and doing otherwise would be literally insane and completely economically irrational by any standards, it is particularly essential for a University like Trent that sometimes trumpets its “Green” credentials and programs in sustainable agriculture to not put its foundation money where the University’s intellectual brand is.”
  30. Dave Patton, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy “There is clear consensus among scientists that the use of fossil fuels is driving climate change, but many in society are much less certain of this.  I would like to see Trent lead by example in the shift away from fossil fuels.”
  31. Dennis Murray, Professor of Biology and Canada Research Chair
  32. Gyles Iannone, Associate Professor of Anthropology
  33. Chris Huxley, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and International Development Studies
  34. James Wilkes, Instructor, Indigenous Environmental Studies/Sciences “In line with the official Vision for Trent University (April 2010) to make socially responsible contributions to local communities, to Canada, and to the world, and to show genuine respect for Indigenous Knowledges, Peoples and Lands, I encourage a Board decision to divest from the fossil fuel industry.”
  35. Ryan Bowie, Professor of Indigenous Studies/Canadian Studies
  36. Aisha Jamal, Assistant Professor (LTA) of German Studies
  37. Wendy Hicks, Instructor of Environmental and Resource Studies and Political Studies “Many of my students tell me that they value Trent as a place where critical thinking, alternative ways of knowing, and ecologically sound practices are encouraged and respected. We need to show foresight on the issue of divestment and live up to Trent’s reputation as an environmental leader.”
  38. David Newhouse, Associate Professor and Chair of Indigenous Studies
  39. Andreas Pickel, Professor of Political Studies
  40. Lynne Davis, Associate Professor of Indigenous Studies “We must bring our ideals into alignment with our actions.  The promotion of the fossil fuel industry is slowing societal shift to the green economy needed to sustain future generations.  We have a responsibility to act.”
  41. Chris Furgal, Associate Professor of Indigenous Environmental Studies/Sciences
  42. Roger Picton, Assistant Professor of Geography
  43. Jonathan Greene, Associate Professor of Political Studies and Canadian Studies
  44. May Chazan, Assistant Professor in Gender and Women’s Studies
  45. Katharine Bausch, Assistant Professor of Gender Studies
  46. Alex Ferentzy, Instructor of Sociology
  47. Graham Potts, Instructor of Sociology
  48. Antonio Cazorla-Sanchez, Professor of History
  49. Keith Walden, Professor of History
  50. Paul Shaffer, Associate Professor of International Development Studies
  51. Beth Visser, Assistant Professor of Psychology “I would love to see Trent leading the other Ontario universities in taking on strong position on environmental sustainability.”

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