John K. F. Irving AB ’83, MBA ’89 and Anne Irving Oxley established the John E. Irving Dean’s Innovation Fund in 2013 to honor the legacy of their father, John E. (Jack) Irving, and support the tradition of outstanding teaching and innovation at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

The Irving Innovation Fellowship offers graduating GSD master’s students an opportunity to extend their research and discovery in the fields of design, architecture, urban planning and design, and landscape architecture beyond their time as students and continue contributing to the school’s pedagogy and dialogue.

Applications for the 2023-2024 Fellowship are now closed. Please check back in early 2024 for updates.

2023-2024 Overview

Number of Fellowships: 1

Theme: Material Investigations

Description: The 2023-2024 Irving Innovation Fellowship is dedicated to the theme of Material Investigations. The topic is conceived broadly to encompass a wide field of inquiry and concerns. The fellow will work with faculty to advance exploration and discourse on materials across disciplines, practices, and programs.

Applicants should explain how they would engage with a selection or combination of the below areas for investigation. We encourage a range of experimental and analytical studies that produce tangible and non-tangible outcomes. This might involve hands-on work in the FabLab, the Library’s Materials Collection, historically based archival research, or collaboration with the rich ecosystem of materials science at Harvard.

Culture and History of Materials – How do the use, value, choice, and perception of materials differ across cultures and time? How can the culture and history of materials be thoughtfully incorporated to create more meaningful designs?

Performance and Lifecycle of Materials – How can we investigate and minimize the full environmental impacts of materials by making sustainable design choices across the lifecycle, from extraction to reuse and adaptation? How can we address growing material uncertainties by pushing the development of renewables, biomaterials, and novel processes?

Expression and Aesthetics of Materials – How can we qualify and/or quantify the expressive and aesthetic attributed of materials and their impact on experience and place?

Smart and Augmented Materials – How can we leverage smart and augmented materials in understanding and improving the functionality and performance of designs—across the senses, scales, design fields, and products?

The fellow is required to provide an overview of their work at the end of the fellowship.

Eligibility: 2022-2023 GSD master’s degree graduates and graduating students are invited to apply. Candidates must be authorized to work in the US and are responsible for securing a work authorization if applicable. The GSD is unable to provide visa sponsorship.

Duration: August 2023 through May 2024 (10 months)

Supervision: The faculty supervisors for the 2023-2024 academic year are Eve Blau (chair), Martin Bechthold, Niall Kirkwood, and Allen Sayegh.

Salary: $5,105/month for 30 hours per week for AY2023-2024, plus benefits. The fellow will be paid on the monthly faculty payroll.

Residence: The fellow is expected to reside within commuting distance from the GSD campus in Cambridge, MA, for the duration of the fellowship and to be a part of the GSD’s in-person academic community. The position is eligible for remote work as arranged with the fellow’s supervisor/s.

Title and Appointment: The fellow will be internally appointed as a Research Associate (non-faculty academic appointment), and their official title will be “Irving Innovation Fellow and Materials Research Associate”.

Outputs/Deliverables: Deliverables such as models, reports, presentations, exhibitions, public talk, etc. are at the discretion of the fellow’s supervisor/s and in consultation with the department chairs and the dean. Additionally, the fellow is required to provide information to the Communications department for a news feature on the GSD website.

Workspace: The fellow will be given desk space either in the studio areas (trays/485 Broadway) or in a shared office.

Application Process:

  • Online submission

Application Materials:

  • Letter of interest (include name, degree program, GSD and permanent email addresses) with a brief overview of your background and explanation of why you would be a good fit for next year’s fellowship theme (up to 2 pages)
  • Current curriculum vitae
  • Digital portfolio of relevant work (up to 10 pages)

Basic Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated interest, initiative, and experience related to materials in design
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to communicate with sensitivity and care among diverse constituencies
  • Initiative and independence: ability to prioritize and execute multiple tasks and meet deadlines
  • Strong organizational skills, attention to detail, time management, and project management skills
  • Solid communication skills, both verbal and visual
  • Ability to handle sensitive, complex, confidential information with discretion
  • Strong skills in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

Selection Timeline:

  • April 17 (9am): Application closes
  • Late April – Interviews
  • By mid-May – Offer extended

For more information, please email [email protected].

Current & Past Irving Innovation Fellows