The Climate Solutions Living Lab is an innovative, project-oriented course in which advanced students from graduate schools across Harvard University (law, business, engineering, design, public health, public policy, and education) work together in teams to design real-world practical tools for advancing climate change goals, such as reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapting to the impacts of climate change.  Student teams will be assigned a project and have a community, government, university and/or nonprofit partner.  All projects will consider issues around equity, feasibility, implementation, and innovation, and will also scrutinize the feasibility, scalability, and social justice impacts of climate change measures from multiple perspectives, including economic, technological, legal and health.

The Climate Solutions Living Lab was developed and led by the late Professor Wendy Jacobs, who taught the course from 2017-2020.  The course is re-launching in Spring 2022, and will be taught by Lecturer on Law Aladdine Joroff and Climate Lab Co-Lead Debra Stump.

View the Spring 2022 course description for the Climate Solutions Living Lab.

Spring 2020 Climate Solutions Living Lab Projects

Team 1:  An innovative, university-based investment initiative to fund and catalyze pilot and demonstration projects that are currently unable to access funding, but that show promise for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing co-benefits.

Team 2:  A pilot program to assist farmers in reducing nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emissions, with a specific focus on the use of cover crops.  Use of cover crops improves soil health and water quality and reduces greenhouse gas emissions in several ways.

Team 3:  A manual for university athletic departments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.  While many athletic departments already engage in sustainability efforts, the students’ manual identifies measures to enable athletic departments to achieve deeper emissions reductions, offset emissions from travel, and tap into new funding sources to pay for these efforts.  

Spring 2019 Climate Solutions Living Lab Projects

Reducing the Climate Impact of Refrigerant Use:

District Heating Using River Water Instead of Natural Gas

Anaerobic Digestion Opportunities for Food Waste

Anaerobic Digestion and Production of Biofuels on Dairy Farms in Wisconsin

High-Quality Carbon Offsets Through Improved Forest Management

Spring 2019 Climate Solutions Living Lab students, faculty and teaching fellows

Spring 2018 Climate Solutions Living Lab Projects

Reducing Emissions from Agriculture Sector Using Chestnut Trees for Alley Cropping

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Creating Social Benefits in Remote Alaska Native Villages Via Weatherization and Hydroponics

Creation of a Cooperative in Utuado, Puerto Rico to Produce Renewable Energy and Safe Drinking Water from Existing but Neglected Hydro-Electric Facilities

Anaerobic Digestion to Reduce Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Conceiving a New Village for Shishmaref, an Alaska Native Community that is Sinking into the Sea as a Result of Climate Change

Spring 2017 Climate Solutions Living Lab Projects

Creating Marketable Offsets by Reducing Use of Nitrogen Fertilizer on Midwest Corn Farms

Use of a Revolving Equity Fund to Creating Carbon Offsets Via a Portfolio of Renewable Energy Purchases and Investments

Public/Private Partnerships To Reduce Carbon Emissions And Improve Health In Rhode Island Schools

Carbon Offsets Via Forest Sequestration And Weatherization In Rural Alaska

Climate Solutions Living Lab Press

Read more on the University’s Living Lab Initiatives at the Harvard Office for Sustainability website.


Student Testimonials

Augusta Williams, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health:

“The project I was assigned to during the Living Lab course, renewable energy credits for unregulated entities, was a topic I was not very familiar with, but learned so much from the experience. Working with students from the other Harvard schools and MIT was an invaluable experience that gave me vital experience for further team collaboration in my doctoral program. During a recent science policy fellowship I completed, I was tasked with completing a proposal on private sector greenhouse gas emissions. Initially I didn’t think I had much knowledge of this topic, but after diving in, realized all of my Living Lab experiences applied to this topic. I was able to complete the proposal with high praise and minor edits by the experts involved in the project, including scientists, lawyers, and policymakers.” 

Dakota McCoy, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences:

“CSLL is not a typical course. CSLL brings together students from interdisciplinary backgrounds to address real-world problems. As a graduate student in biology, I mostly work in a narrow research area with other like-minded folks. CSLL placed me on a dynamic, interdisciplinary team with four brilliant women from the School of Public Health, the Kennedy School, the Graduate School of Design, and the Law School. I learned so much from the way they tackled problems and generated results; we all brought expertise and strategies from our own fields to the table. It was immensely rewarding to work on a real world problem– anaerobic digestion for emissions reduction– where our proposed solution actually may be implemented in the near future. CSLL is learning by doing: the course’s practical atmosphere was energizing and fulfilling. We all invested buckets of energy and time into our project, learned more than I would think possible in a single term, and made connections that I am sure will stretch far into the future. I strongly recommend CSLL: it is truly refreshing and energizing to step out of our bubbles at Harvard, interact with each other, and shoot for real-world solutions to the pressing problem of climate change.” 

Veronica Saltzman, Harvard Law School: 

“The Living Lab gave me the opportunity to get hands on, real world experience practicing in an area of law I’d never tried––energy law–– and a type of legal practice I’d never tried––transactional.  More than any other course in law school, the Living Lab made me feel more prepared to enter the workforce.  The other amazing part of the Living Lab is the amount I learned from other students on my team and on other teams.  Because the course is multidisciplinary, students from different areas of study must learn to communicate, collaborate, and teach one another.  I think it is truly important for law students to gain real-world legal experience and learn to collaborate with non-lawyers.  This course gave me the opportunity to do both.”

Nick Eberhart, Harvard Law School:

“I found the CSLL to be the most rewarding and engaging class I have taken at Harvard. It provides a rare opportunity to do meaningful work, to learn from experts in industry and academia, and to help the university achieve its climate goals. Through the course, I felt more involved both in Harvard’s efforts and in the broader movement to address climate change. The CSLL is structured to be an interdisciplinary experience and I valued the opportunity to learn from other students across fields including engineering and business. We learned to communicate with people from diverse disciplines, which is something that is rare in graduate education and will be helpful for a career in the environmental field.”

Bridget Nyland, Harvard Business School: 

“The Climate Solutions Living Lab was an unparalleled opportunity to both develop relationships with students passionate about climate change throughout the University and to get hands on experience doing the hard work of changing organizational behavior to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In HBS case discussions, we often say ‘Well, we should work across the organization to change the policy and make lowering greenhouse gases a priority on the same line as profit,’ as if that is trivial. The Living Lab made clear how difficult that change can be and gave me the hands-on tactical experience to actually make it happen.”