Open Access Senior Thesis
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
© 2014 Jessica Grady-Benson
In the face of dire threats posed by anthropogenic climate change, a growing international Movement for Fossil Fuel Divestment has emerged to challenge the political and economic power of the fossil fuel industry. Building off a history of college and university divestment campaigns, students are spearheading the movement to rid their institutions’ endowments of investments in the top 200 companies with the largest reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas. Highlighting perspectives from within the movement and drawing from literature in social movement theory and Climate Justice, I explore three crucial components of the student Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement: Climate Justice, perceptions of risk, and potential political impacts. I argue that Fossil Fuel Divestment is a powerful component of the broader Climate Movement because it is mobilizing and radicalizing a new generation of activists to fight the climate crisis, challenging the dominant paradigm of individualized climate action, and is significantly influencing the public discourse on climate change. In seeking to further illuminate the power of this movement, I explore the possibilities and limitations of divestment as a tactic for Climate Justice and offer recommendations for moving forward.
Grady-Benson, Jessica, "Fossil Fuel Divestment: The Power and Promise of a Student Movement for Climate Justice" (2014). Pitzer Senior Theses. 55.