Harvard Fellowships in Sustainability Science

The Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University offers doctoral, post-doctoral, and mid-career fellowships. The fellowships are tenable during Harvard’s academic year beginning in September 2016.

The Sustainability Science Program aims to facilitate the design, implementation, and evaluation of effective interventions that promote sustainable development. To that end, we seek to advance scientific understanding of human-environment systems; to improve linkages between relevant research and innovation communities on the one hand, and relevant policy and management communities on the other; and, more broadly, to build capacity for linking knowledge with action to promote sustainability. The 2016-17 Fellowship Program is directed by Henry Lee and administered at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. More information about the Sustainability Science Program can be found at http://www.hks.harvard.edu/mrcbg/sustsci.

What is the focus of this year’s competition?

This year’s competition is focused on two thematic areas related to energy and sustainability. We are seeking applications focusing on: 1) decarbonizing energy systems in the European Union and 2) designing, developing, and/or implementing sustainable energy and related resource policies and programs in China.

Sustainable Energy and the European Union
Faculty leader: Henry Lee, Jassim M. Jaidah Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program

This thematic area explores policies that will aid in decarbonizing the energy systems in the European Union in view of the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework that was agreed on in October 2014. With this framework, the European Union has set ambitious targets for greenhouse gas emission cuts, renewable energy deployment and increased energy efficiency. The program is particularly interested in work that generates options for how the 2030 emission targets and targets of renewable energy deployment can be implemented in a cost effective manner. Studies relating to renewable energy technology innovation and dissemination will be given special consideration.

Sustainable Development of the Energy Sector in China: Challenges and Options
Faculty leader: Henry Lee, Jassim M. Jaidah Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program

This thematic area addresses the environmental implications of energy policies in China, in the wake of the historic Obama-Xi climate deal and China’s commitment to peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Fellows work to identify and promote policies that will contribute to the thoughtful use of China’s natural resources (e.g., water, air, land) and/or the adoption of cleaner and less carbon-intensive industrial and energy technologies. Research areas include, but are not limited to: assessing polices to promote a low-carbon energy portfolio with a special focus on the electric, transport, and industrial sectors; analyzing the economic and administrative impacts of policies and technologies such as cap and trade, carbon taxes, promotion of carbon capture and sequestration and clean energy technology development and deployment. Special consideration will be given to those proposals that cover potential implementation challenges.


Who can apply for a Sustainability Science Fellowship?

The Sustainability Science Fellowships are open to advanced doctoral and post-doctoral students, and to mid-career professionals engaged in research or practice that advances the goals of the program (see above). Prospective fellows should have a focused personal research or writing objective that is consistent with those goals. In addition, applicants should be interested in spending some of their time as fellows in collaborations with other fellows and faculty in the program in ways that will advance the interdisciplinary, problem-driven agenda of sustainability science more broadly. The Fellowships are tenable at Harvard during the University’s academic year beginning in September 2016. Applications for the mid-career fellowships are invited from individuals in governmental, non-governmental, private organizations, or academia with at least five years of professional experience doing work involved in linking science and practice for sustainable development. Applications for the post-doctoral fellowships are welcome from recent recipients of the Ph.D. or equivalent degree. (Applicants must have completed their Ph.D. between 2011 and 2016.) Applicants for a doctoral fellowship must currently be enrolled in a doctoral program and have passed their qualifying exams (completed coursework and passed oral and/or written exams) by July 2016. Applicants whose doctoral programs do not require qualifying exams must have completed all the required coursework for the Ph.D., since fellows will not be doing course work while at Harvard. Applications are solicited from individuals working in the natural and social sciences as well as relevant professions. Special funding for the Giorgio Ruffolo Fellowships in Sustainability Science is provided by Italy’s Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea. Applicants from Italy, China, and developing countries are therefore especially encouraged to apply. Further information regarding current and past fellows can be obtained through the program’s web site.

Each year, the Sustainability Science Program recruits fellows to work with one another and with Harvard faculty. Candidates who are offered a fellowship will be paired with a Harvard faculty member who has related interests. Applicants may identify a potential faculty member(s) with whom they would like to do research in the on-line application, but applicants should NOT try to secure a commitment from a faculty member before applying. (Unfortunately many faculty are not able to talk with the very large number of candidates who express initial interest in the fellowship. After a fellowship is awarded, however, they will be available to discuss whether there is a match of research interests with particular applicants.)

On what criteria are fellowship applications evaluated?

Fellowship applications will be evaluated according to the criteria listed below. No proposal is expected to meet all of these criteria, but those scoring high on many of the criteria will be more likely to succeed in the competition.

  • Prior success and potential contribution of the applicant to scholarship or practice of sustainability science;
  • Project significance: the potential impact of the research project on sustainability science scholarship or practice (note that the means used to pursue the research may be grounded in a single discipline or may be multidisciplinary; the requirement is that the results of the work contribute to the field of problem-inspired work on human-environment interactions that we call “sustainability science”);
  • Problem-driven relevance: the ways in which successful completion of the project would contribute to solving practical problems of sustainable development.
  • Provides synergies with another center at Harvard.

Diversity: The Program will attempt to select a group of fellows from a range of academic disciplines and nations whose work will focus on a variety of topics. Recipients may include people with degrees in the sciences, economics, law, government, public policy, public health, medicine, design, and the full array of humanities. Their research topics will be equally varied. Interdisciplinary research projects are encouraged, although this is not a requirement for the fellowship. Candidates with interests in approaching sustainability issues through a single discipline are therefore also encouraged to apply.

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