What is divestment?
To generate income, institutions like colleges, universities, religious organizations, retirement funds, and others typically invest money by buying stocks and bonds, buying into venture capital, or other investments that will generate profits in the form of returns. In the case of colleges like Earlham, all of those investments – which typically come from monetary donations and other assets donated to the college – are collectively called the endowment.
Divestment is the act of selling off or otherwise getting rid of investments for moral or political reasons. In our case, REInvestment is asking Earlham to divest its direct holdings (i.e. stocks) in companies that engage in extreme extraction of fossil fuels, because we find the actions of those companies to be unethical.
Does divestment work?
History has shown us powerful examples of divestment campaigns having huge impacts – most notably, the movement to divest from South Africa in the 1970s-80s, which was one important piece of the resistance that eventually led to the collapse of the Apartheid regime. For more in-depth information about the South African divestment movement, REInvestment recommends the PBS documentary Have You Heard From Johannesburg, Episode 4: “The Bottom Line”.