CRAFTSBURY, Vt. (AP) -- Vermont's tiny Sterling College, which claims to be the smallest liberal arts school in the country, has decided to divest its $920,000 endowment of stocks in fossil fuel companies as a way to help combat global warming, the school said Tuesday.
The college said it would be the first Vermont and third college in the United States to divest from 200 fossil fuel companies identified by activists as part of a broader effort to move higher education toward fossil-free investment, ultimately helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
The Sterling board of trustees voted unanimously Feb. 2 to divest. Sterling's endowment is about $920,000 but the school did not say how much of it is in fossil fuel stocks.
"We believe that our investment strategies should be tied to our mission. In making this decision, Sterling will overcome the same challenges we are encouraging other colleges with larger endowments to grapple with," said Sterling President Matthew Derr. "We know that Sterling can avoid direct investment in fossil fuels and that in the future we can select funds that have a bias away from fossil fuels."
Sterling College's education focuses on a hands-on environmental curriculum. Students help raise their own food, and in winter have taken camping trips without tents. The campus includes logging and blacksmith shops, two barns, draft horses and greenhouses — but no food court, gym, or formal sports teams.
Deer said the school's "focus on food, water, health, energy, and governance through conservation, education, and sustainable agricultural practices absolutely compels us to take this action."