The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly forced the world to move from physical to virtual space, creating an overwhelming need to develop strategies that advance remote learning. The GSD was fortunate to be able to call upon extraordinary talent for this task: this year’s cohort of Irving Innovation Fellows.

Four recent graduates—Sarah Fayad MLAUD ’20, Isabella Frontado MDes ADPD/ MLA I ’20, Gia Jung MArch I ’20, and Ian Miley MArch I AP ’20—are spending the 2020-2021 school year as affiliates of the Innovation Task Force, which formed in the spring to research and develop new innovations in virtual design pedagogy. Established as part of a gift from the John E. Irving Family in 2013, the Fellowship offers recipients a platform for continued work with the GSD beyond their time as students.

“This is a perfect example of the flexibility, ingenuity, and tenacity of the GSD community,” says John K. F. Irving, whose generous support, along with that of his wife, Elizabeth, extends across Schools at Harvard. “It is important that the GSD does whatever it can to support its students, and we are honored to have these students known as the Irving Summer Fellows.”

So far, innovations in teaching and learning have focused on digital site visits as a source of pedagogical reinvention, reorganizing course elements to accommodate students across time zones, and creating moments for casual peer review and feedback. The Fellows and the Task Force are also exploring how to build community and fuel creativity through the distribution of fabrication and modeling tools, which allows students to access the critical elements of a design education while learning remotely.

The Irving Innovation Fellowship has always focused on following the threads of research, inquiry, and innovation to practical, inspired, and groundbreaking contributions. That spirit is now more important than ever, and we look forward to seeing what these four talented scholars will achieve.

Photo credit: Image from “Death, Divorce, Down-sizing, Dislocation, and (Now) Display: A Self-Storage Center for a More Exhibitionist Future” by Hyojin Kwon MArch ’18. Kwon worked on the project as a 2018-19 Irving Innovation Fellow.