Each year, the Harvard Graduate School of Design selects a group of exceptional practitioners working in different fields—such as architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, journalism, public art, and affordable housing—to take up residence at the Cambridge, Mass., campus for a full year of working to make the world a better place for everyone. Yesterday, the Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design announced its incoming class of 2017-18, all of whom will address "housing and food production, sustainable urban and rural communities, art that builds bridges." According to a post on the program's blog, the individuals chosen "are experienced in responding to catastrophic events and chronic community dysfunction; they grow and build and publish and convene, and they are eager to broaden their impact."

Meet This Year's Fellows:

Samuel Bonnet, head of construction for the International Committee of the Red Cross, in Geneva, has over 10 years of experience working on the protracted crisis in urban areas and the humanitarian impact of people's lives. During his Loeb Fellowship, Bonnet hopes to explore new opportunities to redefine humanitarian system to encourage "inclusion, generate revenue and empower local economies," according to the Loeb blog post.

Andrew Freear, professor and director of Auburn University's Rural Studio—whose forward-thinking teaching methods have provided his students with opportunities to be involved with more than 70 hands-on building projects for underprivileged communities, mostly in rural west Alabama—will be testing different ideas to advance his pledge to improve resilience of rural communities.

The founder and executive director of Grow Dat Youth Farm, in New Orleans, Johanna Gilligan, has over 14 years of experience in the field of food education. Grow Dat commits to educate young leaders about healthy food production, sustainable food system, and land stewardship, according to the foundation's website. As a Loeb fellow, Gilligan will focus on broadening her foundation's impact to improve its mission.

Conceptual artist Matthew Mazzotta has placed his focus on creating artistic public interventions to address environmental issues. His works are inspired by multifaceted aspects of people's "relationship between people and their environments, as well as between each other," according to his website. Mazzotta is planning to use his fellowship to develop a Social Practice Research Lab to analyze creation of community-centric projects. He will also be focusing on other ethical aspects of communities such as gentrification, equity, and cultural erasure.

Shaney Peña-Gómez—regional planning coordinator for the Quisqueya Binational Economic Council and urban planning unit manager of the Shearly Initiative in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic—has worked to improve the urban and economic development of the border area between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In this work, she has played a fundamental role in raising public awareness about the significance of land stewardship, creating urban parks as well as a binational park. During her Loeb year, she plans to advance her knowledge on border regions and to explore financial mechanisms to develop green infrastructure. She will also be focusing on linking urban density with open urban space.

Surella Segu, head of the urban development department at Infonavit, has been working on developing sustainable solutions for the housing shortfall in the Global South, caused by urban sprawl as well as the regeneration of public spaces. She will be conducting research on mass-produced social housing and ways to involve communities in the planning process.

James Shen, of the People's Architecture Office in Beijing,has been developing innovative projects such as his Courtyard House Plugin, a prefabricated system for turning unsound courtyards into modern living environments. During his time as a Loeb fellow, he will be examining different ways to create balance between client's "interests, social mission, and sustainability," according to Loeb.

With his work, Tau Tavengwa, founder and co-editor of Cityscapes magazine, tries to link design and policymaking with urban academic research in order to increase the understanding of the significance of urban practices among cities of the Global South. He has a number of curational projects and exhibition designs on his résumé. His work also focuses on raising awareness about complex aspects of urbanization in Africa. During his Loeb fellowship, Tavengwa hopes to gather a comprehensive network of urbanists from Africa, Latin America, and South Asia to form a collective of examples on progressive change in the area. He will also focus on finding what role Cityscapes can play in achieving such goal.

Eric Williams—owner of retail store the Silver Room, that is also, a gathering place, event space, and artist gallery according to the store's website—has more than 20 years of experience in transforming urban neighborhoods through social exchange and pushing boundaries of traditional retail, according to Silver Room's Facebook page. Williams will be focusing on finding transformative strategies to replicate his store's model to a national scale. In addition, he will be studying the "social and economic impact of art entrepreneurship," according to Loeb.