Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

John Jurewitz

Reader 2

Char Miller

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Rights Information

© 2014 Robin Xu


The young fossil fuel divestment movement is altering the landscape of climate change activism on US campuses. Student-run divestment campaigns are now pushing for institutions of higher education to withdraw their investments from the top 200 public fossil fuel companies. Despite student fervor, however, divestment has remained a controversial tactic for combating climate change. The first half of this thesis examines the stated motives of a selection of institutions that have officially agreed or declined to divest, and investigates the hypothesis that pushing for divestment alone will not achieve broad success because it does not appeal to a wide enough range of motives that may persuade people to engage in environmentally beneficial behavior. A multi-pronged approach to climate change activism that advocates for many initiatives to fight climate change may see more success than a singularly divestment-centered approach because it is more flexible and inclusive. The second half of this thesis offers an index of suggested actions from which activists and institutions of higher education could craft a multi-pronged approach to fight climate change. These measures, including climate neutrality goals, environmental education initiatives, and various types of internal financial mechanisms, may go a long way in improving the chances for success in climate change activism on campuses.