Op-Ed: History Faculty Supports Divestment in Open Letter

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

To the Board of Managers:

On behalf of the members of the Department of History, I am writing in support of Mountain Justice’s campaign to have Swarthmore College divest its endowment from the fossil fuel industry. I hope you will agree with my colleagues and myself that our students represent the best of the liberal arts tradition. They draw upon their diverse academic and intellectual pursuits to work toward a society rooted in social, economic, and political justice and equality. In particular, we are impressed that they have been inspired by their History courses to develop the critical and analytical skills required for effective civic and political engagement. While we might expect students who work under the auspices of the Lang Center or in Community-Based learning courses to engage in social and political activism, we are pleased that our program of study in the Department of History informs Mountain Justice’s engagement with pressing problems of contemporary American society. There is no greater testament to the value of a liberal arts education than Mountain Justice’s campaign for divestment.


Bob Weinberg

Professor of History and Acting Chair


  1. Your work with your students, History Department, is an amazing reflection of, an absolute validation of, a Swarthmore education. Well done! Thank you for helping to shape these extraordinary students and for standing with them in moments like these!

  2. When you reference “our students”, let us be clear that at best you represent your history students, and do not co-opt the opinions of students of (probably more rigorous) other disciplines.

    When you write

    “There is no greater testament to the value of a liberal arts education than Mountain Justice’s campaign for divestment”

    do you really mean that the successful liberal arts education necessitates MJ’s stand? Because that’s obviously ridiculous. Like obviously.

    • It doesn’t seem helpful to piss on an entire discipline.

      As to your last point, that is clearly not what that sentence means. That the writers believe that the campaign is a testament to the value of a liberal arts education does not necessarily imply that they also believe that a liberal arts education automatically means supporting that campaign.

      To further illustrate: Getting a job as a presidential speech writer is a testament to the value of a communications degree, but that in no way necessarily means that all people with communications degrees get jobs as presidential speech writers.

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