Students Drive Change Through SRI: How Universities Can Get Involved.

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Yale University Campus

In the December 2010 issue of FAgreen, Jerilyn Klein Bier authors a feature article regarding college students driving SRI efforts through their universities’ endowments.  Bier reports that students at 39 U.S. schools have established Committees on Investor Responsibility  (CIR) while Yale University undergraduates are managing an innovative socially responsible endowment fund. This just two weeks after I had the pleasure of meeting Dan Apfel, Executive Director of Responsible Endowments Coalition at SRI in the Rockies.  How and why are students and endowments getting involved with SRI?Bier points to three factors influencing this university trend towards SRI:

  1. WIth $400 billion nationwide, schools now have a louder voice in the investment community and have taken on more risk.
  2. Students now have more access to information thanks to technology and the Responsible Endowments Coalition.
  3. Students have started to look for more ways to have influence on campus activism.

How have Committees on Investor Responsibility been active?

  • proxy voting
  • shareholder advocacy

Responsible Endowments Coalition (REC) was founded in 2004 by student activists from Barnard College, Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College and Williams College who were interested in using their schools’ endowments to positively change corporations.  Today REC includes approximately 100 active schools, 7 of the top 10 universities and 8 of the top 10 liberal arts colleges in the country.  REC offers two forms of membership for students via their website and a host of ways for Administrators, Trustees and Alumni to get involved.  I personally think this is a wonderful opportunity for MBA students interested in Socially Responsible Investing to gain further education and experience in SRI and drive positive change through their universities.

For more information on students driving change through SRI, check out Bier’s full article on FAgreen.

Image Credit:  Adam Solomon via Flickr under CC license.

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