Harvard Radcliffe Institute
Uncovering the truth to guide reckoning and repair
Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery is a university-wide initiative to understand and address the enduring legacy of slavery within the university community. It encompasses a range of scholarly and programmatic efforts, anchored by a comprehensive report that details the university’s entanglements with slavery and recommendations for redress and repair.
AREA 17 partnered with Harvard Radcliffe Institute, the chair of the initiative, to create a dedicated platform that enables the university community and the public to understand, explore, and engage with the initiative’s important work.
To create the new platform on a short timeline and use funding responsibly, we chose to extend and adapt Harvard Radcliffe Institute’s existing design system, also created by AREA 17.
We worked to fill the gaps in the system to support deep research products like the Report and alumni profiles, and differentiate design to reflect the serious nature of the subject and shared ownership of the initiative across the university.
The flagship report is a comprehensive academic product. Our goal was to make it usable and engaging for a variety of users, from faculty and students to other community members and global audiences.
We designed a bespoke set of report components that marry high usability with visual beauty and academic integrity. Navigation is detailed yet clear thanks to a persistent table of contents; a variety of image formats help to humanize the history; and interactive footnotes provide information without interrupting reading flow.
The platform is designed to encourage learning and reflection, as well as engagement with the initiative.
Alongside the report, users can explore related projects such as the Legacy of Leadership alumni profiles, discover how to get involved through events and grants, access learning resources, and review the university’s response and action plan based on the committee’s recommendations.
Our engineering team adapted Harvard Radcliffe Institute’s Twill CMS instance to support the specialized content produced by the initiative.
We worked hand-in-hand with the Radcliffe team to design an intuitive contribution experience that allowed them to input hundreds of standard print pages worth of report content in a short period of time.