Harvard students.

Kris Snibbe/Harvard file photo

Campus & Community

Rewarding innovation in inclusion

5 min read

10 pilot programs to receive Culture Lab funds

An open-access online portal of anti-racism policy research publications.

A pilot project to replace the prevalent anatomical representation of the human body (young, lean, white, and male) by collecting and generating anatomical images of all human forms.

A map of inclusive symbols and spaces on campus.

Those are just three of the proposals that will receive 2020‒21 grants from the Harvard Culture Lab Innovation Fund (HCLIF), which awards up to $15,000 to projects that expand welcome and support to all at Harvard. The fund is part of the Office for Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, led by John Silvanus Wilson, senior adviser and strategist to President Larry Bacow.

In a statement, Wilson called the wining projects “exceptional solutions to advance diversity and a culture of belonging on our campus.”

“During these difficult times our hope is that these projects will contribute to creating a brighter future,” said Wilson. “These innovative solutions address the needs of some of our most vulnerable community members, including undocumented students, students with disabilities, LGBTQ community members, first generation/low-income students, racial minorities, and marginalized genders.”

John Silvanus Wilson.
“During these difficult times our hope is that these projects will contribute to creating a brighter future,” said John Silvanus Wilson, senior adviser and strategist to President Larry Bacow. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard file photo

Wilson’s office works to foster a culture of inclusion and belonging to help the University become “a much better community.” The lab innovation fund is designed to invite and invest in creative ideas from the entire campus community. Students, faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers and academic personnel are eligible to apply.

“Harvard University recently made a choice to steadily and deliberately evolve our campus culture toward one that will help to ensure that everyone in our community thrives,” said Wilson. “We are pursuing what we call ‘sustainable inclusive excellence.’”

Wilson said that the winning projects showed a “strong alignment with the goals from the 2018 report of the Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging” and “add recognizable value to our pursuit of sustainable inclusive excellence.

The fund received 98 applications from Harvard Community members, and held two rounds of judging by review committees that included students, staff, and faculty.

This year’s grant recipients

A Walk in My Shoes: Fostering Empathy for Gender Diversity Across Harvard. A project designed to disarm unconscious bias surrounding gender identity. Nicolas Freeman, Harvard Medical School

Addressing Bias in Medical Education through Inclusive Anatomical Representation. A pioneering pilot to replace the predominant anatomical representation of the human body by collecting and generating anatomical images of all human forms. Dana A Stearns, Director of Anatomy Education, Pathways Curriculum, HMS

Harvard H.U.B. A plan to harness the power of technology and storytelling to connect undergraduate students to a myriad of campus resources. Nidhi Patel, Harvard College

Map of Inclusive Symbols and Spaces (MISS). An interactive web app that visualizes spaces around campus and gives information about their symbols (e.g., public art honoring social justice leaders) and names. Anisha Asundi, Research Fellow: Gender Specialist, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

NextGen Initiative. A multiplatform initiative that aims to enhance the experience of all students who are the first in their families to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree in the U.S. Amanda Sharick, Senior Program Manager, Graduate Commons Program, Central Administration (CADM)

Race Research and Policy Portal. An online portal of evidence-based research and publications on policy, practice, and organizational change as they relate to racism, racial equity, and anti- racism. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Professor of History, Race and Public Policy, HKS

SySTEMatic: Expanding the Reach of Diversity in STEM Programming through Enhanced Mentorship Tech. A collaborative effort to implement mentoring software to aggregate opportunities and streamline efforts to strengthen the impact and expand the reach of STEM mentorship programs at Harvard. Deidre Schreiber, Senior IT Academy Training Program Manager, Central Administration/Harvard University Information Technology.

The Women+ of Color Project @ Harvard. WOC+ aims to improve the pipeline of under-represented racial minority women who pursue graduate school in the physical sciences at Harvard. Lanell Williams, Ph.D. Candidate in Physics at Harvard University, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

UndocuVeritas. A support hub for undocumented/DACAmented students across all Harvard Schools and campuses. Denisse Rojas Marquez, Graduate Student, HKS

Universal Design for Inclusive Research Labs. This pilot aims to increase the number of undergraduate students with disabilities in research labs and increase the implementation of Universal Design principles in existing and new research environments. Shelby Acteson, Associate Director University Disability Resources, Central Administration/Harvard Human Resources

In addition to the 2020‒21 grant recipients, three past winners received scaling grants (for high-impact social ventures) to expand and sustain their efforts: the Harvard Votes Challenge, a nonpartisan initiative to increase student voter registration and participation; the [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging]  DEIB Personalized Learning Project, which provides resources for members of the University community to develop their DEIB skills; and Teachly, a web app that provides teachers with data-driven insights on their students’ classroom participation.

Check dib.harvard.edu/hclif to view video pitches from the winning teams.