1. Transform the Irving Institute building into Dartmouth’s Center for Climate Futures
The building that currently holds the name “Arthur L. Irving Institute” houses the Dartmouth Sustainability Office, Revers Center, Thayer labs, and Climate Modeling and Impacts Group, in addition to the Irving Institute for Energy and Society. Not only does the building's name lend legitimacy to an oil company, it also creates much confusion about the independence of other entities located within.
We propose the physical building be renamed to better reflect its true identity: Dartmouth’s Center for Climate Futures. This does not necessitate a name change for the Irving Institute itself. Rather, we envision the building as an overarching hub for innovative and interdisciplinary sustainability work at Dartmouth. As an initial step, the building should be managed administratively by Campus Operations like most other facilities on campus, rather than Irving Institute staff.
2. increase institutional support for ground-up sustainability initiatives
The Dartmouth community is already galvanizing to tackle the climate crisis from a variety of angles. Faculty are planning to launch a “Climate Solutions Working Group,” student groups like Sunrise Dartmouth are highlighting the intersections of climate and social justice, and the Sustainability Office is working tirelessly to advance green campus operations. Dartmouth already has the passion and expertise it needs to reach its climate goals; we need to maximize this talent. We therefore call on the Dartmouth administration to increase funding, expedite approval, and prioritize collaboration with such ground-up initiatives. This could include launching a new grant for student projects managed by the Sustainability Office. The Sustainability Office could also serve as an interlocker between students, faculty, and Campus Operations to collaborate on campus-related climate projects.
3. fossil free advisory board
To address continued concerns about conflict of interest, we call on the Dartmouth Board of Trustees to remove current Irving Oil and ExxonMobil representatives from the Irving Institute Advisory Board by the end of the academic year (Spring 2024). The Irving Institute should further commit to a policy to ensure future Advisory Board members do not represent fossil fuel companies. We believe these steps are crucial to emphasize Dartmouth’s commitment to academic independence, particularly in accordance with the College’s Gift Acceptance Policy which states that gifts to Dartmouth “should not be granted with any degree of expected benefit or influence over Dartmouth activities.”
Furthermore, the Irving Institute Advisory Board should have representation from the policy, non-profit, and civil society sector to at least 50%. Leadership positions in sustainability-related institutions should be reserved for people actively driving forward climate solutions, rather than those profiting from continued extraction of fossil fuels.
4. Fossil Free Research
We further urge Dartmouth to reject donations and research funding from fossil fuel companies. Several other institutions have already taken this step. In September 2022, Princeton University's Board of Trustees voted to dissociate–refraining from any relationships that involve a financial component–from 90 fossil fuel companies, including ExxonMobil. This was based on a strict criteria that identified companies actively involved in thermal coal and tar sands, as well as companies engaged in climate disinformation campaigns. On April 20, 2023, VU Amerstdam announced that it would only enter into new research collaborations with fossil fuel companies “that demonstrably commit, in the short term, to the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.” Harvard's Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability says it "will not accept funds from, or partner with, any company that does not share the goal of moving our global economy away from fossil fuels." Both Stanford University and the University of Cambridge are considering similar policies. It is time for Dartmouth to catch up to our peers and even set new precedents.
5. Fossil Free Recruitment
With the College’s renewed focus on career advising, Dartmouth holds great potential to shape new generations of climate leaders. To do so, we need to hear from those actively tackling the climate crisis, rather than those complicit in environmental destruction. Dartmouth must (a) exclude fossil fuel companies from recruitment opportunities on campus, and (b) increase the breadth of opportunities in career programming. Students want to see increased representation from non-profit, policy, and civil society sectors across career-related programming. We call on the Irving Institute to adopt similar career recruitment and guidance policies.