Rose Bruford College

The drama school Rose Bruford College has announced it will be divesting fully from the fossil fuel industry. The decision makes it the first specialist drama school in the UK to make such a commitment and the 96th UK university to do so.

Through making its divestment commitment, Rose Bruford College has become the latest signatory to People & Planet and the National Union of Students’ Fossil Free Declaration. In signing the Declaration, Rose Bruford not only affirms its current status as a Fossil Free institution, but makes a vital commitment to excluding the fossil fuel industry from all future investments.

People & Planet – the largest student activist network in the UK – has led the student wing of the UK divestment movement since its launch in 2013. Laura Clayson, the group’s climate campaigns manager welcome Rose Bruford’s divestment commitment. She said,

It’s always incredible to see the hard work of students in the People & Planet network come to fruition and none more so than when it leads to the first commitment of its kind! Specialist institutions have a pivotal role to play in the societal shift away from companies complicit in the multiple crises taking place across the globe – from the climate to the cost of living – with theatre and the performing arts creating space for experimenting with and building alternative worlds and visions of the future.

It’s reassuring that Rose Bruford College has taken action in line with building towards a Fossil Free future.  

Similar sentiments were echoed by Natasha Pavey, Rose Bruford Students’ Union’e environment and ethics officer. Pavey had been involved with the campaign to get the university to divest. Pavey said,

I am over the moon that Rose Bruford has signed the Fossil Free Declaration. As the Student Union Environment & Ethics Officer, I’ve spent the year lobbying the college to sign the declaration. Why? Because I am terrified. We are studying for a future that is threatened by the climate crisis. Committing to remain fossil free and avoid one of the biggest contributors to the climate crisis is a brilliant step in the right direction for Rose Bruford.

I am proud that Rose Bruford has become the first drama school to sign the declaration, leading the way for performing arts institutions across the country and starting wider conversations around climate and social justice.

Clarie Middleton, Principal and CEO of Rose Bruford College, said, “Rose Bruford College is delighted to have signed up to the Fossil Free Declaration, joining over 60% of the UK’s universities in divesting from fossil fuels and taking action to help prevent future climate change.”

Over 1,500 institutions across the globe have now made public commitments to cut their financial ties to the fossil fuel industry. As a result, an estimated $40 trillion of investments have been withdrawn from the sector. Of that total, £15 billion has come from the UK higher education sector.

Such commitments have been made after consistent and sustained public pressure from grassroots activists and campaign groups. When student activist network People & Planet launched the UK wing of the Fossil Free campaign in universities in 2013, no higher education institutions in the UK had committed to divest from the fossil fuel industry. But after the University of Glasgow became the first to divest in 2014, dozens have followed suit. Now, Over 60% of UK universities have divested from fossil fuels companies in acknowledgement of their duty to consider social and environmental impact in addition to profit when making investments.

Following Rose Bruford’s decision to divest from fossil fuels, student campaigners are now calling on the university to also cut its ties with companies that enable the exclusion, surveillance and detention of migrating people in the UK and worldwide. The campaign – Divest Borders – highlights the growing role of the border security and surveillance industry in profiting from climate displacement and war. Divest Borders is a UK-wide student campaign and has already won endorsement from student unions across England and Scotland.

Pavey said, “with a new year looming I hope to bring a People & Planet student team together to encourage Rose Bruford to deepen their commitment to justice by severing ties with the border industry next.”

Clayson added, “We look forward to Rose Bruford adding investment exclusions for the border industry next, in acknowledgement of the intersecting injustices of the impacts of the climate crisis and the private companies profiteering from the UK’s hostile environment towards those who move.”

Image credit: The Telegraph – Creative Commons