Science & Tech

Wanted: Climate change solutions

3 min read

Harvard to fund grants of up to $150,000 for promising ideas to aid environment

Harvard is fertilizing a new crop of ideas to combat climate change.

The Climate Change Solutions Fund will award grants of up to $150,000 each to stoke ideas for creative climate-related work in business, design, policy, public health, and the sciences. It was launched last year with $1 million from the office of President Drew Faust, who challenged alumni and friends to assist in raising $20 million for the fund as one pillar of a broader campaign to support the energy and environment.

“We’re looking for ideas that showcase the immense creativity at Harvard and make new inroads on the path for us to reverse climate change,” said Vice Provost for Research Richard McCullough. “Climate change is a serious and complex problem that requires serious and rigorous thought, not only in the sciences, but across disciplines to understand the implications, possibilities, and frameworks needed to bring change to the world.”

Applications from faculty and students will be accepted until Nov. 1. Both highly feasible and riskier proposals with transformative potential are encouraged; an evaluating committee overseen by McCullough’s office will evaluate ideas on their interdisciplinary collaboration, innovation, and projected impact, as well as intellectual merit. Special consideration will be given to projects that utilize the campus as a living lab, teaching students and fostering impact in the community as they progress on a path to viability.

Last year’s seven awardees have already seen an acceleration in their efforts due to the support provided by the fund.

“This funding was a total game-changer for us,” said Emily Broad Leib, assistant clinical professor of law and deputy director of the Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, who was awarded a grant to reduce food waste. Leib has been able to make time for efforts to raise awareness of the issue through media appearances and by working with her students to make a short documentary about state expiration-date policies and the need for change at the federal level.

Leib encouraged climate change researchers to look at their own potential impact as part of an aggregate. “It’s such a huge problem and feels so overwhelming,” she said. “Remember that it’s going to take a lot of small solutions; it will all add up to a lot of change. So if what you’re doing feels like a small piece of the puzzle, it’s still really worthwhile, and that’s what the fund is seeking to support.”

For more information, visit the Climate Change Solutions Fund webpage.