Announcement regarding our Sustainability Efforts
February 6, 2020
Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:
I write to share updates on Georgetown’s work to foster sustainability and respond to global environmental challenges. Over the course of many years, our University has strengthened opportunities for our community to contribute to a more sustainable future—through teaching and research, in the classroom and curriculum, through sustainability initiatives—with a spirit of partnership and engagement.
Earlier today, as part of our ongoing sustainability efforts, the Board of Directors has directed the University to implement a policy to continue to seek investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and related areas that promote a transition to a more sustainable world; to cease new investments in fossil fuel companies; and to divest from fossil fuel investments over the next decade—including divestment from public securities within five years and private investments within ten years.
The Board of Directors made this determination guided by our Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) Policy, which states that the University shall continue to integrate its commitment to social justice, protection of human life and dignity, stewardship for the planet, and promotion of the common good into its investment management practices.
For the past year, members of our Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility (CISR), a University advisory body composed of students, staff, and faculty, considered a proposal brought forth by the student group GU Fossil Free (GUFF). In doing so, they engaged in thoughtful deliberations and heard many perspectives before coming to consensus on recommendations to the Board of Directors earlier this semester.
During this time, many members of our community contributed to our ongoing conversations around the impact of climate change and helped to ensure many perspectives were brought to the dialogue about divestment and actions that our community could take to advance environmental stewardship.
Our community has contributed their own ideas for building a more sustainable campus through the Laudato Si’ fund, which provided $300,000 to launch 11 sustainability-focused projects led by students, faculty, and staff. We have added to our curriculum and academic programs–establishing a new minor in environmental studies for undergraduates and a new certificate in sustainable business for our MBA students. This past year, we also welcomed Professor Peter Marra, Ph.D., from the Smithsonian as our new director of the Georgetown Environment Initiative (GEI), and our many centers, institutes, and individual faculty have continued to advance important research, scholarship, and public engagement and education on issues related to climate change and the environment. We have advanced our long-standing commitments to more sustainable campus operations—we are nearing 1 million square feet of LEED certified green buildings—and we created a walking tour for visitors to learn more about our work and the importance of sustainability on campus. You can read more about our long-standing commitments and new activities on our Office of Sustainability website.
Our pursuit of building a more sustainable future is guided by our identity as a Catholic and Jesuit institution, and through the inspiration of Pope Francis, who has articulated an ambitious vision for all of us in his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. His words inform and strengthen our commitment to the environment, and to one another, ensuring that as we move forward, we do so in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration.
The work of understanding and responding to the demands of climate change is urgent and complex. It requires our most serious attention. We all share in the responsibility to be caring stewards of the environment and to engage the resources of our tradition and the strengths of our communities in our pursuit of the common good.
John J. DeGioia