Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

New committee will evaluate Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability affiliate programs

The newly established Industrial Affiliates Review Committee will evaluate all industrial affiliate programs in the school to ensure they are in alignment with university guidelines.

In fall 2023, Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability Dean Arun Majumdar wrote an open letter in which he committed to ensuring that all industrial affiliate programs within the school follow university guidelines. To further that goal, Majumdar and David Studdert, vice provost and dean of research, are creating the Industrial Affiliates Review Committee (IARC) to ensure that all industrial affiliate programs in the school are conforming with university guidelines and to make recommendations for improvements in the programs and their oversight. The committee will produce a public report by the end of spring quarter. 

This committee is only reviewing affiliate programs within the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, not programs associated with other Stanford schools and institutes. The committee is working independent of the university-wide Committee on Funding for Energy Research and Education (CFERE), established last year to evaluate research funding by fossil fuel companies across the university and chaired by Paul Brest, interim dean of Stanford Law School, and Debra Satz, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences.

“I’m extremely grateful to Dean Studdert for his support and collaboration in forming the IARC, and I’m especially grateful to the committee members for lending their time, energy, and expertise to this critical effort,” said Majumdar. “Our affiliate programs provide unique opportunities for our faculty and students, and the IARC’s work will not only ensure essential transparency but also foster potential avenues to improve and strengthen these programs.”

Committee members will include:

  • Lynn Orr, Professor (emeritus) and former Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth Sciences 
  • Ann Arvin, Professor (emerita) and former Vice Provost and Dean of Research
  • Brooke Groves-Anderson, Director of University Corporate and Foundation Relations

The committee will also include one non-voting staff member from the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability.

“Our industrial affiliate programs are creating many valuable research opportunities on campus,” said Studdert. “The IARC’s work will help ensure these activities are well aligned with our mission of service and scholarship. I join Dean Majumdar in thanking the committee members for contributing their time and expertise to this initiative.”

Industrial affiliate programs throughout Stanford include multiple corporate members whose financial contributions support the research and teaching activities of multiple faculty members working in areas of research defined by each program. Through these programs, Stanford faculty and students can learn about industry perspectives and priorities, and corporate members are exposed to new ideas and research directions. All affiliate programs are subject to guidelines overseen by the office of the vice provost and dean of research that bring them into line with key university policies, such as openness in research. (See a list of Stanford’s industrial affiliate programs.) 

Another avenue of industry support for faculty members is sponsored research. Those projects are governed by policies in the Research Policy Handbook and Stanford’s Statement on Academic Freedom.

Ongoing dialogue

This school committee is the latest step in a series of campus-wide conversations and engagement relating to research funding by fossil fuel companies. 

May 2022: Soon after he was announced as dean, Majumdar wrote an open letter in response to concerns raised by members of the Stanford community regarding fossil fuel company funding of research. He spent fall quarter 2022 hearing from more than 160 students and faculty from across the university (read a Q&A about what he learned).

December 2022: The university formed a committee charged with assessing current funding from fossil fuel companies, reviewing the approach of other universities, and providing pros and cons of the current approach of accepting these funds and of alternative approaches. That committee has heard from the Stanford community through feedback forms and events, and continues to host opportunities to provide input.

October 2023: A group of six students published an open letter making recommendations to the university committee, among which was a recommendation that the university enforce all existing policies for affiliate programs. In a response, Majumdar pledged to follow through on that recommendation within the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, which is what this new committee will address.

In that same letter, Majumdar also wrote that all information about affiliate programs within the school would be easily available on the school’s website. Since that time, the school has posted full affiliate program financial information for fiscal years 2022 (9/1/21-8/31/22) and 2023 (9/1/22-8/31/23), along with descriptions of projects funded by the programs in fiscal year 2022. The school has also posted news and updates about innovations developed by those programs, including discoveries that will enable a global energy transition.

Explore More