Leveraging endowments for social and environmental change

The New School considers responsible investment with students, faculty, and university trustees from across the U.S.

New York (February 18, 2011) — The New School and the Responsible Endowments Coalition will co-host a national meeting of students, faculty, and university trustees from across the United States to examine how universities can consider and improve the environmental and social effects of the more than $350 billion in collective endowment dollars they have invested while continuing to return resources for their schools.

"University investments can play a key role in creating positive social and environmental change beyond their financial return," says Chris Crews, a PhD student in Politics at The New School for Social Research and a member of university's Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, which develops strategies for considering environmental, social, and governance issues in the management of The New School's endowment. "The investment of a university's endowment should reflect its educational philosophy," Crews added. "We believe that means supporting intellectual freedom, human rights and environmental stewardship. The New School can become a leader in higher education by demonstrating the power of responsible investing, which is why our committee is excited to co-host this event."

Nationwide, more than 40 universities, including The New School, have formed Committees on Investor Responsibility. These committees apply their institution's values, mission and public purpose to their investment decisions. College and university divestment from businesses supporting apartheid in the mid-1980s was instrumental in destabilizing South Africa's oppressive regime. The movement for environmental, social, and governance investing has since expanded and deepened, as investors explore a range of strategies to leverage their investments for positive social and environmental benefits, including: community investing, shareholder resolutions, proxy voting, sustainability guidelines, and impact investing.

The workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Wollman Hall, 65 West 11th Street, in New York City. Speakers include: Terra Lawson-Remer, assistant professor of International Affairs at The New School and chair of the university's Committee on Investor Responsibility; David Wood, Director, Initiative for Responsible Investment at Harvard; Pat Doherty, Director of Corporate Governance at New York State Office of the Comptroller; and Dan Apfel, Executive Director of the Responsible Investments Coalition. For additional information or to register, visit http://www.endowmentethics.org/upcoming-events.

The New School, based in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village, is a legendary, progressive university inspiring undergraduates, graduate students and others to catalyze change. Founded in 1919 as a hub of intellectual freedom by a group that included Charles Beard, John Dewey, and Thorstein Veblen, The New School today is a major degree-granting university comprised of distinct academic divisions. The intellectual home of Parsons The New School for Design, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, and five other divisions, the university's 10,500 students are enrolled in 88 degree programs in the humanities and social sciences, design, public administration, and the performing arts. For more information, please visit www.newschool.edu.

The Responsible Endowments Coalition works to foster social and environmental change and to promote corporate reform through university endowments by educating and empowering a diverse group of university community members and organizations to take action. At schools controlling over $150 billion in endowment assets, we introduce students, alumni, faculty, staff and trustees to the tools of active ownership, and provide a national network for collective action. By working with their institutions to invest responsibly and proactively, university community members have the power to have positive impacts on issues including human rights, environmental responsibility, and equal opportunity, and to encourage accountability to the communities in which they live and learn by supporting community investment and dialogue. For more information, please visit www.endowmentethics.org.

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Peter Taback

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