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An open letter to the University of Sussex's working group on ethical investment

28th October 2015

As public figures, staff members and alumni of the University of Sussex, we are proud to support a world-leading institution, renowned for its constructive engagement with social and political issues and its leading profile on sustainability research. Given the gravity of climate change, we are concerned that the university’s ongoing investments in the fossil fuel industry hamper the fight toward a sustainable and ethical future and jeopardise our hard-earned reputation for progressive values-driven research and action. 

We thus call on the University to divest from fossil fuels and adopt a robust ethical investment policy. We support the aims of Fossil Free Sussex and feel that universities - as publicly funded institutions and providers of education for the social good - have a responsibility to drive positive change. This responsibility is often recognised in the vision and strategy of organisations but gets lost in practice, failing to ignite tangible change. To avoid this, it is crucial to align the university investment strategy with its values and commitments to sustainability.

Since the University of Glasgow became the first European institution to divest from fossil fuels in October 2014, the student divestment movement in higher education has grown apace. Most recently, the University of Warwick, a University of Sussex benchmark institution, agreed to divest all of its existing investments in coal, oil and gas companies.

This is not an isolated move. SOAS, UCL, Oxford and Edinburgh have also already pledged serious commitment to divestment and/or ethical investment, and discussions around ethical investment are being tabled on university committee agendas across the country. Thus far, more than 452 institutions around the globe, with combined assets of $2.6tr, have committed to divestment from fossil fuels. 

Given that society will inevitably need to transition away from fossil fuels in the coming century, the question is not whether institutions will divest, but when. Potential still remains for Sussex to be historically remembered as having placed itself in the vanguard of social change. For the present, a decision to divest and introduce a robust ethical investment policy would make a clear statement about the kind of future the University wishes to help bring about. Now is the moment for Sussex to join and help inspire a global movement by divesting its holdings from fossil fuels. 

Public Figures 

Caroline Lucas MP, Green MP for Brighton & Hove 

Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader, Green Party of England & Wales 

Members of University Staff 

Prof. Peter Newell, Professor of International Relations, International Relations (Centre for Global Political Economy) 

Prof. Andrea Cornwall, Head of School (School of Global Studies) 

Prof. Peter Thomas, Head of Astronomy Centre (Physics & Astronomy) 

Prof. Tim Foxon, Professor of Sustainability Transitions (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Prof. Ben Rogaly, Head of Department (Geography) 

Prof. Mark Hindmarsh, Professor of Theoretical Physics (Physics & Astronomy) 

Prof. Erik Millstone, Professor of Science Policy (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Prof. Jan Selby, Director, Sussex Centre for Conflict and Security Research (International Relations) 

Prof. Lyla Mehta, Professorial Research Fellow (Institute for Development Studies) 

Prof. Adrian Smith, Professor of Technology & Society (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Prof. Donald Mcgillivray, Professor of Environmental Law (Sussex Law School) 

Prof. Janet Boddy, Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies (Education) 

Prof. Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner, Professor of Social and Medical Anthropology (Anthropology) 

Prof. Rupert Brown, Professor of Social Psychology (Social Psychology) 

Prof. Alex Faulkner, Professor in Sociology of Biomedicine and Healthcare Policy (International Relations) 

Dr. Michael Hardiman, Senior Lecturer in Experimental Physics (Physics & Astronomy) 

Dr. David Ockwell, Deputy Director of Research, Senior Lecturer (STEPS Centre, Geography) 

Dr. Florian Kern, Senior Lecturer (Sussex Energy Group, Science Policy Research Unit) 

Dr. Reima Ana Maglajlic, Senior Lecturer (Social Work and Social Care) 

Dr. Dominic Glover, Fellow (Institute of Development Studies) 

Dr. Ralitsa Hiteva, Research Fellow (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Dr Sevasti-Melissa Nolas, Senior Lecturer (Social Work, Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood & Youth) 

Dr. Rob Byrne, Lecturer (Sussex Energy Group, Science Policy Research Unit) 

Dr. Darren Baskill, Physics (SEPnet) & Maths Outreach Officer (Physics & Astronomy) 

Dr. Mari Martiskainen, Centre on Innovation & Energy Demand, Sussex Energy Group (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Dr. Tomasso Ciarli, Senior Research Fellow (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Dr. Noam Bergman, Research Fellow (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Dr. Mark Sargent, Lecturer in Astronomy (Astronomy Centre) 

Dr. Tish Marrable, Lecturer in Social Work (Social Work & Social Care) 

Dr. Adrian Ely, Senior Lecturer (Science Policy Research Unit)Dr. 

Dr. Saurabh Arora, Senior Lecturer, Technology & Innovation for Development (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Dr. Lucy Baker, Research Fellow (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Dr. Cian O'Donovan, Research Fellow, Nexus Network Coordinator (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Dr. Antony Lewis, Reader in Physics & Astronomy (Astronomy Centre) 

Dr. Benno Teschke, Reader (International Relations) 

Dr. Michael Hopkins, Senior Lecturer (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Dr. Richard Lane, Associate Tutor (International Relations) 

Dr. Kristy Lascelles, Associate Tutor (Psychology) 

Miss Emily Cox, Research Associate, Sussex Energy Group (Science Policy Research Group) 

Mrs. Rebecca Vine, Teaching Fellow (Business & Management) 

Ms. Catherine Senger, Course Co-ordinator (Geography) 

Mr. Nathan Oxley, Communications & Impact Manager (STEPS Centre, Institute of Development Studies) 

Miss Frances Thomson, Associate Tutor, Doctoral Researcher (International Relations) 

Ms. Aoife Bruce, Research Support Assistant (BMEC) 

Ms. Evelyn Dodds, Resource Centre Manager (Global Studies) 

Mr. Jonas Torrens, Doctoral Researcher (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Mr. Edwin Cristancho Pinilla, Doctoral Researcher (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Ms. Andrea Smith, Doctoral Researcher (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Ms. Ruth Segal, Doctoral Researcher (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Mr. Tomás Saieg, Doctoral Researcher (Science Policy Research Unit) 

Ms. Charlie Termperton, Activities Co-ordinator (USSU) 

Alumni 

Philippa Roddis, MA, Environment, Development & Policy (2013-14), Climate Change Policy Officer, RSPB 

Anna Watson, MA, Environment, Development & Policy (2013-14) 

Sarah H. Cross, MA, Creative Writing & Personal Development (2007-09) 

Alec Martin, BSc, Psychology (2007-2010) 

Sarah Corry, MSc, Climate Change & Policy (2013-14) 

Rupert Bear, BSc, Psychology (2009-2012) 

Ali Wates, MSc, Experimental Psychology (2013-14) 

Carys Barnfield, MSc, Experimental Psychology (2013-14) 

Gabriel Hassaniel, MSc, Experimental Psychology (2013-14) 

Matthew Gross, BA, Philosophy (1991-94) 

Andrew Armstrong, BSc, Biology (2009-12) 

Rose Cole, BSc, Biology (2009-12) 

Bradley Smith, BA, Geography (2011-14) 

Alice Norman, BA, Geography (2011-14) 

James Goldsmith, BSc, Physics (2008-12) 

Alex Blackburn, MPhys, Physics (2008-2013), PGCE (2014-15) 

Jack Miller, MPhys Physics (2009-2013), MSc Energy Policy for Sustainability (2013-14) 

Laura Gillard, BA, Politics & International Relations (2009-12) 

Fergal Raftery, BA, English Literature & American Studies (2009-13) 

Holly Potter-Adams, BA, English Literature (2009-12) 

Alison Lasenby, BA, Art History (2009-12) 

Anthony Heaton, BA, Politics & International Relations (2009-12) 

Louis Pearce, BSc, Business & Management Studies (2009-12) 

Amy Derby, BA, Philosophy & Politics (2009-2012)

 

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