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Harvard Salata Institute Funds Seven Student Climate Research Projects

Harvard established the Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability through a $200 million donation in June 2022.
Harvard established the Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability through a $200 million donation in June 2022. By Frank S. Zhou
By Isabella G. Schauble, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard’s Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability announced the third round of awards for student-led projects last week, funding seven projects that include input from a total of 20 student organizations across the University.

The Salata Institute created the Student Organization Funding Program to connect different groups that are focusing on similar climate initiatives. Each proposal must be presented by at least two student clubs in the University and contribute to research or education in the climate sphere.

Among the topics tackled by the seven new projects are mobility, food, climate justice and agrivoltaics, the use of solar panels and agriculture to maximize space utilization. The projects include symposiums, conferences, seminars, and research in emergent topics.

Students from the Harvard Environmental Law Review, Harvard Human Rights Journal and Harvard International Law Journal are hosting a two-day symposium on human rights and the environment, including contributions from the Law School and indigenous organizations.

Michaela A. Morris, editor-in-chief of the Environmental Law Review, wrote in an emailed statement that the Salata Institute’s program allows students to create projects that are otherwise “incredibly challenging to pull off.”

“The symposium project—made possible, in part, by the support of the Salata Institute—enables us to identify the connections and build relationships between Journals,” she wrote. “In turn, these channels of communication have the potential to remain open so that future editorial boards can pool our resources and maximize impact.”

The Salata Institute granted funding to the India Conference, which has been running for 21 years. Ananya Chhaochharia, co-chair of the conference, said they will use the funding to bring in a diverse group of attendees, including many prominent grassroots speakers who wouldn’t otherwise be able to travel to the US from India.

“That was a big motivation, again, to apply and make sure that we get funding which would allow us to get the right people — those who are actually affected by the problem as well as those who are working on eradicating the problem directly on the ground and are the ones who are taking real action — to be getting a platform to be able to speak about it.”

She said the conference hopes to start a conversation around the future of climate action in India.

“We are trying to use this conference to become that bridge that will enable people to actually learn from the thinkers and doers who are currently in the field and maybe gain inspiration from these conversations as to what they can do in the future,” said Chhaochharia.

Many of the projects are aimed at educating those who might be unaware of the way their lives are so closely tied to the climate and sustainability. Food 4 Thought — a festival aiming to educate people about their food choices and the way they impact the environment — will be co-hosted by five organizations in spring 2024, including Harvard Undergraduate Plant Based.

In an emailed statement, Navin S. Durbhakula ’25, co-president of HUPB, recognized the Salata Institute’s role in getting the festival up and running in its opening year. He wrote that receiving the grant again this year will enable them to “scale up the initiative even further” and expand both within the University and in the Greater Boston area.

“Many of these programs lack the resources to scale their project or amplify their messaging around campus and beyond. Salata's program is particularly helpful in supporting groups, including us, as we navigate the process.” Durbhakula wrote.

—Staff writer Isabella G. Schauble can be reached at isabella.schauble@thecrimson.com.

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