Our multi-disciplinary research and teaching programs are dedicated to generating knowledge about how discoveries in science, technology, and policy analysis can create a sustainable environment for generations to come.
Harvard is committed to translating research and teaching into practice by piloting solutions to real world challenges, and providing our students with the knowledge needed to create sustainable impact and service to the world. VIEW OUR PLAN
Ideas, innovation, discovery and rigorous independent thought will serve as indispensable elements in combating the climate threat; these are the special province of universities.
-President Drew Faust
We are bringing our students, faculty, and staff together to use the campus and our surrounding community as a test bed to incubate exciting ideas and pilot promising new solutions to real-world challenges threatening the health of people and the planet — at Harvard and across the world.
Working on-the-ground and across disciplines, our community is generating new discoveries that can be used to inform the University’s implementation of our Sustainability Plan in ways that can be replicated and applied on the local, regional, and global level.
University-wide Centers and Initiatives
Currently, the University offers more than 240 courses on energy, environment, and sustainability, with more than 230 faculty engaged in research and teaching in those areas.
The Harvard University Center for the Environment encourages research and education about the environment and its many interactions with human society. The Center seeks to provide the next generation of Harvard-educated researchers, policymakers and corporate leaders with a comprehensive interdisciplinary environmental education, while fostering linkages and partnerships amongst different parts of the University as well as between the University and the outside world. Through a variety of grants and fellowships, the Center supports research related to the environment at every level, from undergraduates through senior faculty members. By sponsoring symposia, public lectures, and informal student convocations, the Center connects people with an interest in the environment.
The Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health works to help people understand that our health, and that of our children, depends on the health of the environment, and that we must do everything we can to protect it.
Harvard's Sustainability Science Program harnesses the University's strengths to promote the design of institutions, policies, and practices that support sustainable development. The Program addresses the challenge of sustainable development by: advancing scientific understanding of human-environment systems; improving linkages between research and policy communities; and building capacity for linking knowledge with action to promote sustainability. The Program supports major initiatives in policy-relevant research, faculty research, training of students and fellows, teaching, and outreach.
The Harvard Environmental Economics Program develops innovative answers to today’s complex environmental issues, by providing a venue to bring together faculty and graduate students from across Harvard engaged in research, teaching and outreach in environmental, natural resource, and energy economics and related policy. The program sponsors research projects, convenes workshops, and supports graduate education to further understanding of critical issues in environmental, resource, and energy economics and policy around the world.
The Harvard Center for Greener Buildings and Cities aims to transform the building industry through a commitment to design-centric strategy that directly links research outcomes to the development of new processes, systems, and products.Through partnerships with cities, governments, and industry thought-leaders, the Center will both disseminate findings and continue to explore the role that building efficiency plays in the larger urban context of sustainability.
The Future of Energy Initiative was founded on the premise that the complex challenges we face in the areas of energy and climate require coordinated and multidisciplinary responses. The initiative brings together faculty and students from around the University who are engaged in research on major energy-related problems—including global climate change, urban air pollution, technologies for pollution abatement and renewable energy, energy security, and economic growth in developing countries – and exposes them to the perspectives of other disciplines and collaborative opportunities.
Harvard Project on Climate Agreements works to help identify and advance scientifically sound, economically rational, and politically pragmatic public policy options for addressing global climate change. Drawing upon leading thinkers in Argentina, Australia, China, Europe, India, Japan, and the United States, the Project conducts research on policy architecture, key design elements, and institutional dimensions of international and domestic climate policy.
Harvard Global Health Institute leverages the intellectual breadth and collective expertise of Harvard, providing a unique platform to redefine the very way world health is seen, analyzed, and approached, providing the intellectual space and scaffolding to tackle the most intractable global health challenges; and inspiring and investing in the next generation of global health leaders.
The Harvard China Project is an interdisciplinary research program on China's atmospheric environment, energy system, and economy based at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The Working Group for Sustainable Cities is a cross-disciplinary offering that brings together the faculties of Harvard (professors and students) and industry leaders. The group will develop new ways of understanding and approaching economic, social, and environmental sustainability as it relates to urban regeneration.
School-based ENVIROnmental Programs
Harvard Business School’s Business and Environment Initiative seeks to deepen business leaders' understanding of today's environmental challenges and to assist them in developing effective solutions.
The Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities at the Graduate School of Design conducts intensive research and education programs aimed at creating sustainable, high-performance buildings. The focus is on better design, construction, and operation — especially in urban environments.
The Harvard Kennedy School Sustainability Science Program harnesses the University's strengths to promote the design of institutions, policies, and practices that support sustainable development.
The Harvard Kennedy School Environment and Natural Resources Program conducts policy-relevant research at the regional, national, international, and global level, and through its outreach initiatives to make its products available to decision-makers, scholars, and interested citizens.
Harvard Law School’s Environmental Law Program and the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic features dedicated students, innovative clinical instruction, and renowned professors with real-world expertise and passion for teaching. Together, they employ rigorous legal analysis and policy savvy to tackle today’s most pressing environmental challenges.
The Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic is the oldest food law clinical program in the United States. It was established in 2010 to address growing concern about the health, environmental, and economic consequences of the laws and policies that structure the current U.S. food system. Harvard Law students get hands-on learning experience by conducting legal and policy research for individual and organizational clients working to increase access to healthy foods, prevent diet-related diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, and assist small and sustainable farmers in breaking into new commercial markets.
In 2014, Harvard Law School launched the Food Law Lab as part of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics to be a locus for research, scholarship and teaching on the legal regulation of food.
Ecology and Biodiversity Research
The Arnold Arboretum discovers and disseminates knowledge of the plant kingdom to foster greater understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of Earth’s botanical diversity and its essential value to humankind. It is the oldest public arboretum in North America and one of the world's leading centers for the study of plants, dedicated to providing and supporting world-class research, horticulture, and education programs that foster the understanding, appreciation, and preservation of trees.
The Concord Field Station supports physiological and biomechanical laboratory-based research of animal performance, seeking to understand how animals operate in their natural environment. Field-based physiological ecology studies are supported by an adjoining 65 acres of pasture and wooded vegetation and 650 acres of Harvard-owned land in the Town of Concord's Estabrook Woods.
The Harvard Forest is comprised of 3,500 acres of land, research facilities, and the Fisher Museum. The scientists, students, and collaborators at the Forest explore topics ranging from conservation and environmental change to land-use history and the ways in which physical, biological and human systems interact to change our earth. Since 1988, the Harvard Forest has been a Long-Term Ecological Research Site, funded by the National Science Foundation to conduct integrated, long-term studies of forest dynamics. Since 2011, the Harvard Forest has been the Northeast Core site for the National Ecological Observatory Network.
The Harvard University Herbaria, with more than 5 million specimens, are one of the 10 largest Herbaria in the world in number of specimens, and along with the library, form the world's largest university owned herbarium.
Launched in parallel with edX (the Harvard and MIT founded not-for-profit, online learning platform) HarvardX is a faculty-driven and university-wide effort that aims to be collaborative and representational of Harvard’s academic diversity, showcasing the highest quality offerings of the University to serious learners everywhere.
Explore Harvard’s extensive, world-class online learning opportunities. Harvard's Online Learning offerings range from podcasts and lectures to fully interactive courses and programs.