Divesting Harvard's Endowment
By early 2020 Harvard University was facing growing pressure from students, faculty, and alumni to divest its $40 billion endowment of financial stakes in fossil fuel producers. Its previous policy of avoiding the issue was quickly becoming outdated-$21 trillion of institutionally managed money now gave some consideration to sustainability. This case considers the two important questions surrounding a potential divestment: 1) Should the University alter its endowment's portfolio to meet broader social objectives, and 2) If so, how should it integrate climate objectives, or ESG considerations more generally, into its investment strategy and portfolio construction? In the case, the University is being advised on these questions by Nicole Abramson, an investment management professional specializing in ESG products. To formulate her recommendation, Abramson considers the views of Harvard's stakeholders and the sustainability best practices of institutional investors and asset managers around the world.