Investing for Environmental and Social Impact
As raging wildfires and other severe weather events demonstrate the destructive impact of climate change, entrepreneurs Jason Epstein, A96, and Chloe Epstein, J96, are helping future Tufts students learn how to steer businesses to be part of the solution.
With a generous gift to the university, the Epsteins have established a graduate certificate in Environmental Social Governance (ESG) investing, currently being developed.
ESG investing is a strategic approach that businesses and investment managers use to analyze the complex factors involved in aligning companies’ products and processes with sustainability goals. The results, sometimes called a corporate social credit score, can influence investment and the expansion of sustainability initiatives.
The one-year, online program at Tufts will be based in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, which also offers a master’s degree in sustainability, and will involve some courses in the Department of Economics.
The Epstein gift will fund an endowed professorship, the Jason and Chloe Epstein Professorship, which will be awarded to an expert in ethics or a professor whose work contributes to solving significant societal problems. The gift will also underwrite a term professor of the practice who will serve as program director, as well as ESG research and program assistants.
The Epsteins’ philanthropy comes as predictions about climate change continue to worsen. An August 8 report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cautioned that the world risks increasingly catastrophic impacts in the absence of rapid greenhouse gas reductions.
Jason Epstein sees ESG as a fast-emerging necessity given a shortage of professionals trained to help companies reach their goals. Those targets include the adoption of green technologies and practices and commitments to transparent values and empathic leadership.
“There is a growing market for graduates who can analyze and integrate ESG factors for positive societal and environmental changes,” he said. “Consumers increasingly expect investments to reflect a social and environmental consciousness. Chloe and I believe it is of paramount importance to train professionals who can respond to these demands and it is our hope that Tufts can become a leader in this effort.”
Tufts is well positioned to lead in the field because of its collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, he said. “ESG intersects with wide-ranging and complex issues, and Tufts has the expertise and global perspective needed to tackle them. I am excited by the potential of the university to address issues of such importance.”
President Anthony P. Monaco said the new program aligns with the university’s commitment to innovation, collaboration, civic life, and global perspectives as it also builds on a strong reputation for sustainability studies and research.
“We are deeply grateful to the Epsteins for their vision and support,” he said. “Their inspiring generosity comes at a crucial time, as the fight to limit climate change has never been more urgent. This new program complements the great work going on already at Tufts and strengthens our ability to promote sustainable solutions for our future.”
The gift is the latest show of support from the New York-based couple. Jason Epstein serves on the Board of Advisors for the School of Arts and Sciences, and Chloe on the Board of Advisors for the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. They are co-chairs of the university campaign.
Jason Epstein is an entrepreneur and an investor. He sits on the Board of Harmonix Games, EG7 Games, and Cold Iron Studios and is an affiliate partner at Stonecourt Capital. Chloe Epstein, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, is the co-founder and president of Chloe’s, a brand inspired by the search for healthy foods for their three children.
Now, with the certificate program, the Epsteins are looking to Tufts to bring innovative thinking and rigor to the fight against climate change.
“ESG is a complex global movement that integrates all the social drivers that will dominate the world in the coming decades,” said Chloe Epstein. “Jason and I are excited to help begin what we hope will become an important part of the Tufts experience.”