Campus & Community

HUCE bolstered by new support

5 min read

The newly established Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) recently received major commitments of support for its research and education programs. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences (DEAS) will allocate physical and faculty resources to the center, including new space for the China Project – HUCE’s multidisciplinary research program on energy use and environmental protection in China. An award from the Henry Luce Foundation will fund the China Project Fellows Exchange Program, a reciprocal exchange of environmental scholars, from undergraduate students to senior faculty, between Harvard and Chinese universities.

In April 2001, Provost Harvey V. Fineberg announced the establishment of the HUCE and committed substantial resources to supporting the center and providing transitional space over the next few years. The goal is to create a permanent home located in the FAS, with a satellite location at the Longwood campus of the Harvard School of Public Health (SPH). Dean of SPH Barry R. Bloom has already designated space for the satellite facility.

Bloom noted, “The activities of the School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health represent a large share of the University’s work on environmental issues, and the department trains a majority of the University’s doctoral students in environmental studies. The opportunity to create a much higher degree of interaction between Boston and Cambridge using modern communications technology is very exciting and will be a significant addition to the educational and research components of environmental work around the University.”

Michael B. McElroy, director of the HUCE and Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies, added, “After 10 years of working together, it is clear to all of us that there really is value in bringing the University community together both for educational purposes and research goals. It’s not a transient phenomenon. The issue of environmental protection is not a problem that will be resolved in three years, five years, or 10 years. It’s an issue that we’re going to have to grapple with in various forms for the indefinite future.”

Teaming up with DEAS

“DEAS has a long history of supporting environmental studies,” said Dean of the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences Venkatesh Narayanamurti. “Since I came here, I have tried to bring together the environmental sciences and environmental engineering communities as often as possible, so I look forward to being involved in the new center’s activities.”

Citing joint ongoing projects focusing on environmental issues in China and India led by McElroy and Peter P. Rogers, Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Engineering and professor of city and regional planning, Narayanamurti said that DEAS is ideally suited to offer its resources to the new center. “The division is inherently highly interdisciplinary. One of the most important things the center will allow us to do is sustain that tradition and build the strongest possible community of environmental engineers and environmental scientists anywhere. And I want to underscore that it’s not just the senior faculty but also several of the junior faculty as well.”

A number of DEAS professors are also members of the center, including Rogers; Frederick H. Abernathy, Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Engineering and Gordon McKay Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Ana P. Barros, associate professor of environmental engineering on the Gordon McKay Endowment; Henry Ehrenreich, Clowes Professor of Science; Daniel J. Jacob, Gordon McKay Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Engineering; Paul C. Martin, John Hasbrouck Van Vleck Professor of Pure and Applied Physics; Scot T. Martin, associate professor of environmental chemistry on the Gordon McKay Endowment; and Steven C. Wofsy, Abbott Lawrence Rotch Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Science.

A scholarly exchange

Space allocated to the China Project from DEAS will also house the Luce visiting fellows from China in Cruft Laboratory. According to China Project Executive Director Chris Nielsen, the Luce award “represents a major step for the China Project. We can now expand beyond project-based research and embrace a formal exchange program, sponsoring work from independent scholars.”

Several scholars have already accepted fellowships in the exchange program. Wendy Liu, a junior concentrator in environmental science and public policy at Harvard College, will travel to Beijing this summer to work at Tsinghua University on an air pollution inventory. Wang Shuxiao, an environmental engineer from Tsinghua, will pursue a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard modeling the health and economic effects of air pollution in China. And on the faculty level, HUCE will host Wang Canfa, a professor of law and the director of a center at People’s University in Beijing that assists citizen lawsuits over environmental harms.

This grant was awarded as part of the Luce Foundation’s new program in public policy and the environment, a five-year initiative.

“I am pleased that Harvard’s proposal to us was one of the best in a strong group of candidates, as it symbolizes and reinforces Harvard’s leadership toward globalization as well as environmentalism,” said H. Christopher Luce, the foundation’s program director for public policy and the environment. “The Luce Foundation has a long history of support for China. This proposal continues that tradition, as well as leading it into a new direction.”