New Jersey’s official State University is not always top of mind for outstanding American campuses. Yet Rutgers University is one of the oldest and most respected colleges in the country with a growing commitment to sustainability and carbon neutrality. Located in the hip urban-suburban town of New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers – New Brunswick is the flagship of three campuses and boasts an enrollment of almost 40,000 students. The historic public research university has been producing high-ranking academics and researchers, particularly from its pre-med, philosophy, and business programs, since its founding in 1766, Today, it hosts some of the brightest environmental scholar advocates and student activists in the nation.
In fact, Rutgers University Senior Vice President for Strategy and Senior Advisor to the President, Brian Ballentine, was featured in the RCC’s recent major report on campus fossil fuel divestment, Money Talks: Strategy, Success, and Action on Divesting and Reinvesting Funds for Fossil Fuels (2022) and cover where he explained how and why Rutgers agreed with student activists and happily decided to rid its endowment of fossil fuel investments.
And so, RCC’s Assistant Director of Communications and Strategic Development, Claudia Steiner, visited her home state’s academic powerhouse, speaking in several courses in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and meeting with career center faculty to encourage RU’s future environmental leaders to apply for the RCC’s Campus Fellowship Program.
Steiner was the keynote in Dr. Ethan Schoolman’s “Politics of Environmental Issues” where she shared her own leap from campus environmental leader to helping lead RCC‘s successful campaign on environmental justice, including a riverboat tour on the Cape Fear River in North Carolina to expose and document the clear-cutting of forests to produce wood pellets.
In Dr. Deborah Greenwood’s “Introduction to Human Ecology,” Steiner emboldened the future generation of environmental leaders to apply their skills to the RCC Campus Fellowship program.
Steiner spoke with burgeoning entomologists, conservationists, and climate justice activists, all of whom were keen to start working on their RCC Fellowship proposals where they would make a case to RCC to fund their own environmental projects at Rutgers during the 2023-2024 academic year.
Fresh off the heels of the university’s announcement to completely divest its endowment from the fossil fuel industry last year, the Rutgers student body is eager to organize the next environmental watershed moment on campus.
With the Rachel Carson Council’s history of empowering Fellows to lead their university’s divestment and other environmental justice campaigns, including three #DivestVandy crusaders at Vanderbilt University in this year’s RCC 2022-2023 cohort, Rutgers applicants find themselves in unquestionably good company.
Rutgers’ 21st President, Dr. Jonathan Holloway, former Dean of Yale College, and Provost of Northwestern University, became the first African American to lead Rutgers just two years ago. An eminent historian, Holloway is a champion of diversity and a rising national academic leader. He plans to extend the university’s impressive climate action streak, with ambitions to turn the entire Rutgers University system carbon-neutral by 2040, develop a comprehensive climate adaptation plan for each of the campuses’ host communities, and much more.
Rutgers’ promising future of academic and climate leadership makes for an excellent backdrop to its addition as the 63rd member of the Rachel Carson Council Campus Network.