Across Harvard University, rapid innovation and technological change, among other factors, are prompting important collaborations that enhance learning and deepen understanding. Under the mantle of “One Harvard,” students, faculty members, and administrators are engaging with one another beyond the boundaries of their particular schools to address society’s most exciting opportunities and challenging issues.

In the Harvard Innovation Labs, for example, members of the Harvard community are developing and carrying forward ideas for ventures in areas ranging from genomics to social programs, involving business, science, medicine, law, public policy, design, and ethics. What began with the i-lab, an incubator for students across Harvard, has evolved into an innovation ecosystem that includes the Harvard Launch Lab (for alumni) and the Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab (for students, faculty, and alumni).

Another collaborative effort is the MS/MBA joint degree program launched by HBS and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), with the first cohort of about 30 students arriving in August. The extensive course development underway for the program, and the relationships it is fostering across faculties, will have a spillover effect on both schools’ curricula and research agendas. The program also will serve as a prelude to yet-to-be-planned activities that await the 2020 opening of the Harvard Science and Engineering Complex across Western Avenue from HBS. This triangulation of the Harvard Innovation Labs, HBS, and SEAS will foster entrepreneurship along a dynamic Innovation Corridor in Allston.

Today’s collaborative spirit is a far cry from the early 19th century, when the then president of Harvard, John Kirkland, said: “It is our rule here for every tub to stand on its own bottom.” Srikant Datar, the Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Business Administration and senior associate dean for University affairs, explains: “This siloed approach was effective for much of Harvard’s history. Individual schools and colleges had to first reach a certain level of excellence on their own, and keeping that tub on its own bottom was an important benefit.

“However,” observes Datar, “over time it became clear that very good intellectual activity takes place at the intersection of differ ent disciplines. In the process of sharing, you make each school better, and you educate students better. When there is overlap in interest and curiosity about what’s happening on the other side, that’s when the magic occurs. That’s when the idea of One Harvard takes root.”

Key to furthering collaborations that benefit both HBS and the University is the generosity of the School’s alumni and friends. “We have been fortunate that our donors appreciate our efforts to develop the next generation of leaders,” says Datar. Endowment gifts and annual contributions to the HBS Fund for Leadership and Innovation enable cross-disciplinary programs and initiatives that draw on the School’s expertise in general management, leadership, innovation, and business models to advance new ideas.

photo by Russ Campbell

“In the process of sharing, you make each school better, and you educate students better. …That’s when the idea of One Harvard takes root.”

Srikant Datar, Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean for University Affairs


Harvard’s Evolving Western Avenue Innovation Corridor

Harvard’s expanding campus in Allston will create exciting opportunities for HBS students, faculty, and alumni, while also benefiting the University as a whole, Greater Boston, and beyond. First came the establishment of the Harvard Innovation Labs ecosystem, and now construction of the Science and Engineering Complex is well underway, representing the first phase of large-scale construction in the neighborhood.


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