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Stanford sustainability school’s partner sparks controversy

Stanford sustainability school’s partner sparks controversy

"Sustainability Controversy"

The Doerr School of Sustainability at Stanford University is facing criticism over its partnership with Brunswick Group, a PR agency known for its ties with oil and gas companies. This has raised concerns among University activists who feel the collaboration contradicts the sustainability program’s core values.

The criticism centres on Brunswick Group’s representation of industries that significantly contribute to climate change. Critics argue this affiliation raises questions about Stanford’s dedication to sustainability and highlights concerns over Big Oil’s influence in academic and research settings.

Students and faculty members have organized protests and petitions urging the University to cut ties with Brunswick Group. Critics argue that the partnership is a step backward in combating climate change. There’s high anticipation among the critics for an official statement from both the Doerr School and Brunswick Group regarding this matter.

A Stanford sophomore and member of the institution’s advisory council, Amanda Campos, expressed her dissatisfaction with the alliance.

Brunswick partnership questions Stanford’s sustainability commitment

Her concerns mirror larger worries related to the university’s acceptance of donations from prominent fossil fuel corporations like Exxon, Chevron, and Shell.

The partnership announcement between the Doerr School and Brunswick Group happened in late February, with an aim to manage the school’s image and potential reputational risks. The alliance is also set to carve out a public relations blueprint addressing stakeholder concerns.

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Brunswick Group is known for its strategic communications with top-tier energy companies. Their work focuses on public relations narratives that portrait natural gas as a lower-carbon fuel. Notably, in 2022, they partnered with ExxonMobil, the leading oil corporation.

Campos, as part of the Coalition for a True School of Sustainability, is urging the university to stop accepting fossil fuel donations. Her role as a student of public policy and earth systems highlights her commitment to promoting environmental sustainability and responsible fiscal practices.

Finally, Brunswick Group asserts that their work with Stanford acknowledges climate change as an urgent issue. They claim their actions are based on scientifically backed information to foster the transition to sustainable energy, despite concerns that their methods could spread misinformation about climate change.

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