Via Harvard Gazette

Photo of students in Alaska

Photo by Caroline Lauer
Vik Bakshi (left), Caroline Lauer, and Yuan Zhang were part of a team of graduate students that traveled to Alaska to develop an innovative plan for reducing carbon emissions by preserving existing forest land.

How could preserving forests in Alaska or reducing nitrogen fertilizer runoff on farms in the Midwest help an organization interested in mitigating climate impact?

This was one of the questions posed to diverse teams of graduate students brought together as part of the new, multidisciplinary “Climate Solutions Living Lab” course launched by Harvard University last spring to help push forward the transition to a carbon-free future that supports planetary and human health.

Led by Wendy Jacobs, the Emmett Clinical Professor of Environmental Law and director of the Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School, and developed in collaboration with the Harvard Office for Sustainability, the three-year research and teaching project was funded by the University as part of its living lab initiative to use the campus as a test bed for innovative sustainability solutions that can then be replicated across much broader levels.

“No single professional discipline can tackle climate change in isolation; collaboration is critical,” said Jacobs. “We designed this course to address real-world challenges faced by climate leaders who are interested in investing in off-site emissions-reduction projects that can be proven to deliver environmental and social benefit.”

The course’s outcomes are expected to offer Harvard clear strategies for how it can most effectively pursue high-quality, off-site emissions projects in the short term as part of the University’s longstanding commitment to modeling how organizations can dramatically reduce the climate impact of their operations. These same strategies, says Jacobs, can be implemented by other organizations.

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