Climate Research Clusters: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The OVCPS has created a consultative process to facilitate the development of strong proposals to the Climate Research Clusters Program. This process includes Q&A sessions, a networking reception, presentations of proposed projects, and consultations with prospective project teams. See the table at the bottom of this page for a list of dates and indicate whether you would like to participate by using the respective RSVP links. While we encourage engagement in this process, participation in these events is optional.
Many major climate challenges embrace both the unknown – topics on which academic research is needed – and realities driven by our complex social, legal, and political decision-making process. These two factors make implementing climate solutions difficult. A Climate Research Cluster should tackle a climate challenge that calls on both traditional academic research and the development of actionable proposals derived from that research and related knowledge. The scope of a cluster should be broad enough to have the potential for real-world impact yet narrow enough that the cluster can make significant progress. A research cluster should undertake new and consequential research, not just support an existing research program, although projects that build on existing research and otherwise meet the applicable criteria will also be eligible for funding.
Climate problems typically touch many parts of our economy, political systems, and culture. Many climate problems also raise significant issues of equity, both in the present and in the future from predicted climate change and the energy transition. Thus, research addressing such problems inevitably cuts across academic disciplines. The Climate Research Clusters program aims to develop and to support a community of scholars at Harvard committed to ambitious and meaningful real-world progress on important climate problems. Funded proposals will provide for ways to cultivate such a community through public presentations, holding workshops, and other ways to connect with colleagues across disciplines and schools.
An accepted and launched Climate Research Cluster must have co-PIs representing at least two Schools, and ideally the cluster ought to span multiple disciplines. Preliminary concept proposals do not need to have co-PIs from multiple Schools, but should explain what other School(s) and other disciplinary area(s) could be part of the cluster.
All Harvard University ladder faculty are eligible.
PIs who are not ladder faculty may serve as co-PIs with a ladder faculty member in a Climate Research Cluster.
The first step is an opportunity to pitch a concept for a research cluster. The Office of the Vice Provost for Climate & Sustainability (OVPCS) will engage with first-round proposers to explore collaboration across other proposed clusters, and, if necessary, to modify the scope of the proposal. The purpose of this step is to work with interested parties to develop an effective team and an impactful proposed project. The process will yield a revised proposal (step 2). From these revised proposals, a small number of clusters will be invited to prepare a detailed proposal (step 3).
Each cluster will require a significant time commitment from its members, as well as a high level of interaction among them. This interaction will involve co-locating regularly to facilitate the fruitful exchange of ideas and to hasten the synthesis of research findings. The OVPCS will provide this meeting space at no cost, or the space can be provided by the cluster PIs. Limited space might be provided for postdocs or graduate students. Specific space needs should be discussed with the OVPCS, which will work with the clusters to identify conference and convening space.
No. By submitting a concept proposal, PIs gain entry to the consultative process that is described in the RFP.
Yes, external reviewers will serve on the selection committee and as referees for individual proposals.
Clusters must submit brief annual progress reports to the OVPCS, in the month of January after the first and second years of the project. The OVPCS will review the reports to ensure that projects are progressing adequately before disbursing additional funds. Clusters must submit a final report within 30 days of the completion of the project detailing their findings, their concrete proposals to address some aspect of the climate crisis, and the impacts of their work.
Yes, the OVPCS encourages using research cluster funding to raise additional resources.
Yes, so long as the core criteria of the climate research cluster program are met.
No, the OVPCS expects to call for proposals annually.
Yes, the OVPCS may provide seed grant funding to such projects for the purpose of supporting PIs in developing projects into future Climate Research Clusters.
Proposal development events
Please use the registration form linked in each event title, where available, to indicate your attendance for the events below.