Universities have an "accountability to the future"—a special role and a special responsibility in confronting the challenges of climate change and sustainability. 

We aim to transform the University into a healthy, thriving, sustainable community that contributes positive social, economic, and environmental benefits.

Our vision is rooted in our shared responsibility to build and operate a campus that contributes to the well-being of every member of our community—and ultimately to the health of the planet. 


We must strive to cultivate a robust community that supports the well-being of everyone who passes through our gates, even as we pursue our broader mission of research and teaching.


– PRofessors bill clark and jack spengler

Research and Teaching

Our entire community of students, faculty, and staff are dedicated to advancing solutions to these global challenges both through cutting-edge academic research and by translating research into action on campus. 

We also have a deeper mandate that goes to the heart of Harvard’s research and teaching mission: to educate and empower our students with a deeper understanding of the complexity of sustainability challenges so they are prepared to address them no matter where their lives may lead. 

Students arriving today ought to leave Harvard with a deeper understanding of the complexity of sustainability challenges and be ready to address them no matter where their lives may lead.


Institutional action

While Harvard’s primary role is to address global challenges through research and teaching, the University also has a responsibility to translate research into action. Harvard is using its campus as a living laboratory for piloting and implementing solutions that can be widely replicated and institutionalizing best practices in sustainable operations.

Every member of our community plays a role in changing the culture in which we learn, work, and live. 

Harvard’s Sustainability Plan, adopted in 2014, was created in partnership with faculty, students, and staff to align the University around a holistic vision and five-year roadmap for enhancing the well-being of the campus community. The Plan is organized around five core topics (energy and emissions, campus operations, nature and ecosystems, health and wellness, and culture and learning) and sets clear goals, standards and commitments for moving forward.

Harvard is also leading partnerships across higher education, government, and business to develop shared solutions to climate challenges on a local, regional, and global level. 


We tap into the creative ideas that our students, faculty, and staff are generating and then work to replicate them University-wide for greater impact.


– heather henriksen, Director, Office for sustainability