ENABLING DIVESTMENT FROM FOSSIL FUELS: Characterizing Divestment Awareness and Support at Dalhousie University
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A team of students at Dalhousie University has come together to develop a comprehensive research report on the state of divestment from fossil fuels at their University. Divestment campaigns have recently become popular across Canadian universities. More specifically, student led divestment advocacy groups are gaining traction in the public eye. Developing advocacy groups is a tool used by young people to voice their concerns and take steps towards combating climate change. Divest Dal is Dalhousie University’s student led group that pushes for the University to divest its holdings from the fossil fuel industry. In November of 2014, Dalhousie University announced that they would not be divesting from fossil fuels, even after copious efforts from Divest Dal to sway the decision (Dalhousie, n.d.). This team was curious to explore the reasoning behind this decision and what could be done differently. Based off of these inquiries, our team of students decided to explore the state of awareness at Dalhousie University amongst the student body. To find the answer, a non-probabilistic research style was used as well as questionnaire analysis. The study required both the major and year of study of each participant with their consent. This research was carried out by surveying participants in student buildings across Dalhousie’s Studley campus. Our study found that the majority of the sampled student body was unaware of the Divest Dal movement. However, the majority of the sample was aware of divestment from fossil fuels. Divestment awareness was higher within the faculty of Science as well as within third and fourth years. After analysis of our results, we recommend that the Divest Dal movement work towards raising awareness in the student body in order to increase support and change. With a movement as valuable as divestment, awareness throughout the entirety of the student body should be the goal, regardless of area or year of study. Given the strength in numbers when is comes to the climate change movement, a higher level of divestment awareness could be a catalyst for change on behalf of student-led groups at Universities.