Sustainability Science Program

Fellowships in Sustainability Science

Fellowships in Sustainability Science

What is the Sustainability Science Fellowship?
What are the goals of the Sustainability Science Program?
What is the focus of this year's competition?
Who can apply for a Sustainability Science Fellowship?
With whom do fellows work?
What are the responsibilities of Sustainability Science Fellows?
What support is provided by the Sustainability Science Fellowship?
What is the full application procedure due by January 15, 2014?
On what criteria are fellowship applications evaluated?
How do I receive updates about the fellowship opportunities with the Sustainability Science Program?
What related fellowships are available at Harvard?

What is the Sustainability Science Fellowship?

The Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University offers doctoral, post-doctoral, and mid-career fellowships in Sustainability Science. The fellowships are tenable during Harvard's academic year beginning in September 2014. Fellowships are available for 10 months (September 2014-May 2015), 12 months (September 2014-August 2015), the fall 2014 semester or spring 2015 semester (mid-career fellows only), or for two academic years (post-doctoral fellows only) (September 2014-August 2016).

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What are the goals of the Sustainability Science Program?

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. (For an overview of research horizons in sustainability science see a report from a workshop held in 2009.) The Program is directed by Bill Clark, Michael Kremer, and Nancy Dickson and is administered at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. More information about the Sustainability Science Program can be found at http://www.hks.harvard.edu/centers/mrcbg/sustsci.

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What is the focus of this year's competition?

Earlier work supported by the Sustainability Science Program focused on how science and technology could help promote sustainability in the individual sectors of energy, food, water, and health. That work showed that some of the most serious constraints to sustainable development lie in the interconnections among these individual sectors: energy's growing need for water; the impacts of water use on human health; the competition for land among food, energy and conservation initiatives; and the cumulative impact of all sectoral initiatives on climate and other key environmental services. A central challenge moving forward is to develop an integrated understanding of how sectoral initiatives for sustainability can compete with and complement one another in particular regional contexts. The 2014-15 fellowship competition will therefore continue to focus on regional initiatives pursing an integrated perspective on sustainable development in India, China and Brazil. It will also include a cross-cutting research initiative to integrate work focused on the theme of Innovation for Sustainable Development. Preference in this year's competition will be given to applicants whose proposals complement one or more of these four initiatives. The Program is also open, however, to strong proposals in any area of sustainability science.

Governance Innovations for Sustainable Development: Building Public-Private Partnerships in India
Faculty leader: Rohini Pande, Mohammed Kamal Professor of Public Policy
Faculty co-leader: Michael Greenstone
Please direct all inquiries to the Initiative Manager, Robert Rosenbaum
Sustainable development, by its nature, requires government and private actors to work together. Externalities from rapid growth, such as the depletion of subsidized resources, widespread air and water pollution or unsustainable energy use, arise from a joint failure of government and industry to create an economy where the most profitable action is also best socially. Governance Innovations for Sustainable Development is a research program working with governments to channel the enterprising potential of the private sector to correct such externalities. This initiative addresses questions in sustainable environmental regulation in India of both national and global import, and provides evidence on how public-private partnerships can contribute to solving existing challenges. Our research focuses on three overarching problems. First, existing environmental regulations are weakly enforced by possibly under-resourced regulators, leading to poor environmental quality. Second, traditional regulations, even if strengthened, are not the right tools to address many of India's pollution problems. Third, from the perspective of sustainability of resource use, India's inefficient and rapidly growing energy consumption threatens to undermine its own development by contributing to global climate change. The research team is partnering with government and private institutions in order to conduct field trials of innovative environmental policies and provide rigorous evidence on their impact for sustainable development. Doctoral, post-doctoral, and mid-career candidates are encouraged to apply.

Sustainable Development of the Amazon and its Surrounding Regions: The Interplay of Changing Climate, Hydrology, and Land Use
Faculty leader: Paul Moorcroft, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Faculty co-leader: John Briscoe
Ongoing agricultural expansion and other land use changes in Amazonia and the surrounding regions are expected to continue over the next several decades as global demand for food and biofuel increases and regional economies expand. The conversion of natural forest and cerrado ecosystems to pastureland and agricultural crops creates warmer and drier atmospheric conditions than the native vegetation. In addition, human induced climate change arising from increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is expected to push the Amazon region towards a warmer and drier state. In a number of recent climate modeling studies, the Amazon has been shown to exhibit two contrasting states for the water cycle and ecosystems of the region: a moist forested state, and an alternate drier and warmer state with sparser vegetation. This has raised the question of whether deforestation and conversion to agricultural land cause the atmosphere-vegetation-hydrologic system of the Amazon to switch from its current moist state to the warmer and drier one? And if so, will this new state have sufficient precipitation to sustain the natural and managed ecosystems, and hydropower operations in the region? In this study, we are answering these questions using (a) a newly-developed state-of-the-art coupled vegetation-atmosphere model to investigate the stability of the Amazonian hydrologic system (sometimes referred to as "rivers in the sky", as well as accompanying river flows on the ground) to scenarios of land use and climate change and (b) models to assess the implications of hydrological changes on the hydropower and agricultural economies of Brazil. Post-doctoral candidates who have experience with integrated land-water-climate models and/or experience analyzing patterns and trends of land use and land use change are particularly encouraged to apply as are candidates with expertise in the hydrological drivers of the hydropower and agricultural systems.

Sustainable Development of the Energy Sector in China: Challenges and Options
Faculty leader: Henry Lee, Jassim M. Jaidah Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program
Faculty co-leaders: Laura Diaz Anadon, Venkatesh Narayanamurti
The China Initiative addresses the environmental implications of energy policies in China and explores how China can manage these implications. Fellows work to identify and promote policies that will contribute to the thoughtful use of China's natural resources (e.g., water, land) and/or the adoption of cleaner and less carbon-intensive industrial and energy technologies. Research areas include, but are not limited to: analyzing the impact of energy and industrial policies on water scarcity and air pollution; assessing polices to promote a low-carbon energy portfolio and an analysis of options to improve the efficient use of energy. Post-doctoral and mid-career candidates, especially those who speak Chinese, are particularly encouraged to apply.

Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development
Faculty leader: William Clark, Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development
Faculty co-leaders: Laura Diaz Anadon, Kira Matus, Suerie Moon
Meeting sustainable development goals will require harnessing and maximizing the potential of technological innovation. Examples of such technologies include carbon capture and storage systems, more efficient irrigation methods, essential medicines, household water purification devices, and manufacturing processes that minimize waste and pollution. While some needed innovations can be fostered through existing public and private mechanisms at the national level, such efforts have proven inadequate to meet global sustainability goals, particularly with regard to meeting the needs of the world’s poorest, most vulnerable or marginalized in current and future generations. Too often, technologies are either not developed at all for lack of a sufficiently profitable market, or if developed, are not accessible or well-adapted to end-user needs. This initiative seeks to advance knowledge and understanding of how to equitably improve the functioning of the “global innovation system” for sustainable development technologies. We have been conducting comparative studies of how well the system functions to meet five sustainable development needs (food, energy, health, manufactured goods, and water), with a special focus on equity and access.  The initiative examines specific cases of “system interventions” (e.g., policy interventions, institutional innovations, new approaches to shaping the innovation process) intended to strengthen the global innovation system, with the broader aim of developing policy recommendations that draw from, and are generalizable across, multiple sectors. The findings will contribute to realizing the potential of science and technology to meet the most pressing sustainable development challenges. Doctoral, post-doctoral, and mid-career candidates are encouraged to apply.

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 2014. 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 2010 and 2014.) 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 2014. 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 available to support citizens of Italy, China, Brazil, India or developing countries who are therefore especially encouraged to apply. Further information regarding current and past fellows can be obtained through the program's web site.

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With whom do fellows work?

Each year, the Sustainability Science Program recruits approximately 15-20 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.) A list of Harvard faculty with interests related to sustainability science is provided on the web pages of the Sustainability Science Program Faculty Affiliates and the Center for the Environment. Any member of the teaching faculty from any discipline at Harvard can serve as a faculty sponsor, regardless of whether the faculty member has had a prior affiliation with the Sustainability Science Program.

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What are the responsibilities of Sustainability Science Fellows?

Fellows are expected to play a central role in the intellectual life of the Sustainability Science Program. This includes working on the SSP’s Initiative and presenting results of the personal research project proposed in the fellow's application, preparation for and attendance at Program seminars and workshops, and authorship or co-authorship of a substantial paper addressing a topic agreed upon by the fellow and program directors. Fellows should expect to spend about half of their time on collaborative work with one of SSP’s Initiatives. In order to enhance interactions within the program, we strongly discourage substantial additional activities or obligations during the period of the fellowship. Exceptions must be negotiated with the Program in advance of accepting a fellowship offer. Fellows are expected to be in residence at Harvard during the full period of their award except when doing field research or attending academic conferences. Such time away from Harvard should generally not amount to more than 25% of the fellowship period.

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What support is provided by the Sustainability Science Fellowship?

The Sustainability Science Fellowship is based on a 12-month stipend of $55,000 for post-doctoral fellows, $28,000 for doctoral fellows, and a negotiated amount for mid-career fellows depending on their citizenship, current salary, current employment location, seniority, and other sources of support ($35,000 maximum). Fellows may also obtain funding from their own academic institutions, outside foundations, and personal resources. In the case of successful mid-career applicants with support for sabbatical or professional leave, packages can be negotiated in which Program funds complement such support and stipends can be paid to the fellow's home institution. Recipients are expected to spend a minimum of one semester at the University. Stipends will be proportionately reduced for fellows spending less time in residence with the Program which can range from 3-12 months. Fellows will have the option of purchasing Harvard employee medical and dental benefits. Office space and supplies, personal computers, telecommunications, and access to Harvard University libraries and other facilities will be provided. Expenses associated with project workshops are covered for fellowship holders by the Program. Limited support for field research expenses is provided on a competitive basis as budgets allow. Since the Program's funds are limited, prospective fellows are strongly urged to pursue additional sources of stipendiary and research support. Applications from those with their own resources are also welcome.

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What is the full application procedure due by January 15, 2014?

Applications for the fellowship are due January 15, 2014. Candidates should submit:

  1. An on-line application cover sheet, located here (click here to see questions in advance, form must be completed online).
  2. The following documents in pdf format should be attached to a SINGLE email message and sent to: sustsci_grants@hks.harvard.edu by January 15, 2014. The subject heading of the email should read 'Sustainability Science Fellowship' followed by the applicant's last name.
    1. Proposal: Applicants should attach a description of their proposed project including specific information demonstrating how their work contributes to the goals of the Sustainability Science Program as outlined above, particularly noting how it compliments one or more of the four Initiatives. Applications that address one of the four Initiatives will have a higher likelihood of success, but other proposals will also be considered, especially if the candidate provides stipendiary support from other sources. Maximum length is 1500 words (about 3 pages of single spaced type) plus literature citations.
    2. Curriculum vitae: Please attach curriculum vitae, listing publications and graduate coursework on research methodology or experience relevant to the planned project (3 page maximum).
    3. Writing Sample (20 page maximum, e.g., peer-reviewed article, draft dissertation chapter
  3. Additionally, the three (3) recommenders named in the cover sheet should email their letters of support directly to: sustsci_grants@hks.harvard.edu by January 15, 2014. The subject heading should read 'Sustainability Science Fellowship: Recommendation for [candidate's name]. Referees should comment on the applicant's suitability for the Sustainability Science Fellowship, including relevant information on scientific originality, professional productivity, and demonstrated ability to work in groups. Applicants applying for doctoral fellowships in Sustainability Science should have one recommendation from a thesis advisor or other university official stating that the applicant has/is expected to pass his/her qualifying exams by Summer 2014. If an applicant does not have qualifying exams at his/her university, then the applicant's major advisor should state this in the letter of recommendation and confirm that the necessary coursework will have been completed by June 2014. (Our strong preference is for recommendations letters to be sent by email. If letters must be mailed, the postal address is: Sustainability Science Fellowships, Sustainability Science Program, Mailbox 81, Harvard Kennedy School, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA.)

Applicants bear full responsibility for ensuring that all materials, including recommendation letters, are received by January 15, 2014. We will NOT notify applicants of incomplete applications. Decisions will be announced by March 2014.

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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. We are interested in work relevant to any significant problem of sustainability, e.g. relevant to any dimension of Kofi Annan’s "WEHAB" (Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture, Biodiversity) agenda for the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. For the 2014-15 competition, however, we will give significant preference to applicants whose work compliments one or more of the four SSP Initiatives.
  • Developing world component: this could include north-south relations; comparative work; be solely based in a developing country; work focusing on implications for the developing world of an issue such as governance, trade, or globalization, etc.);
  • Involves field work in the developing world;
  • Develops institutional links with an academic or practitioner/ applications/ problem-solving oriented institution in the developing world;
  • Provides synergies with a regional center at Harvard, e.g. centers for Latin America, Asia, Africa (learn more);

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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How do I receive updates about the fellowship opportunities with the Sustainability Science Program?

To receive periodic messages about fellowship opportunities with the Sustainability Science Program, subscribe to the list "sustsci_fellowships" by sending a message (with no subject) to:

subscribe-sustsci_fellowships@lists.hks.harvard.edu

containing the line in the message field:

subscribe sustsci_fellowships

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What related fellowships are available at Harvard?

Related fellowship opportunities are available through a number of other Harvard Programs and Centers. Since funding for the Sustainability Science Program is limited, interested applicants are urged to consider applying to these other fellowship programs as well. Applicants who receive such fellowships and are pursuing research related to sustainability science are invited to apply to the Sustainability Science Program for joint appointment as non-stipendiary fellows.