Climate & Sustainability Course List

One of the best ways to get involved with the Duke Climate Commitment is to explore climate and sustainability connections in your coursework. Fortunately, there is no shortage of courses from which to choose!

From graduate engineering seminars to first-year writing courses, there is something for everyone. The climate crisis demands all skill-sets to research, communicate, design, and implement solutions. Whether you want to spend time in the lab building photovoltaics, in the field analyzing organisms affected by rising seas, or in the library writing about environmental policy, there’s an engaging course with climate connections waiting for you.

As you plan and refine your Spring 2023 schedule, download the Climate & Sustainability Course List for inspiration. Head on over to DukeHub for more details on courses and to register.

Below are just a small handful of the courses contained in the list.



Climate Change for Future Leaders
ECS 103, EOS 103

Attributes: STS, NST

The science of climate change, including the factors that control the Earth’s climate system, the methods used to study climate variations, the nature of climate models and prediction scenarios, the changes of the Earth’s climate through time, and the evidence that modern-day climate change is human-induced. Related topics include examination of the impacts of climate change on past and present societies, biodiversity, and human health, as well as potential alternative energy and engineering solutions, and the social, political, religious and economic challenges associated with responding and adapting to climate change.

Engineering Sustainable Design and the Global Community: Environmental Focus
CEE 315-60, ENVIRON 365, PUBPOL 211-60

Attributes: STS, Q

Design and testing of solutions to complex interdisciplinary design products in a service-learning context with a focus on structural products. Technical design principles; sustainable and engineering best practices; prototype formation, testing and evaluation; and establishment of research and analysis methodologies in a community-based research experience. Working in partnership with a community agency (local, national, or international) and participation in an experimental learning process by engineeringa design solution for an identified community need. Evaluation focused on design deliverables, fabricated prototypes and a critical reflection of the experimental learning process.

Ethical Dimensions of Environmental Policy

Attributes: EI, CZ, SS

Uses case studies from different arenas of environmental policy (e.g., climate and clean air, water and waste, forests, oceans, energy) to surface normative assumptions often implicit in policy design and implementation. Links ethics to ethos (beliefs, aspirations, and spirit of a community or culture) to suggest that policies are not only pragmatic guidelines for decision-making and action, but also fundamental declarations concerning the character of human flourishing and the shape of the natural world, which is why environmental policies are often so contentious. Seeks to help students understand this aspect of environmental policy and to negotiate these deep-seated ethical conflicts.

North American Environmental History
HISTORY 345, ICS 340, PUBPOL 278

Attributes: EI, STS, CZ

Historical roles of nature as a cultural construct and a set of biological relationships in shaping human choices in North America, from colonial times to the present. Special attention to historicalorigins of contemporary environmental politics, including the origins of wilderness; environmental justice movements; the changing politics of food, animal rights, and pollution; and tragedies of the commons, and the ethical challenges posed by global warming and population growth.

Theory and Practice of Sustainability

Attributes: EI, R, STS, NS, SS

Theories and practices of sustainability explored with application to the campus environment, including economic, social and environmental factors, and a local to global reach. The Duke campus is used as a case study to illustrate institutional practices including building design and operations, utility supply and consumption, carbon offsets design and calculation, transportation, water, sustainability education and communication, behavior change, waste production and recycling, and procurement. In a service-learning project, students might perform sustainability inventories and cost/benefit analyses, or gather behavior change data.

Graduate and Professional

Air Pollution Engineering
CEE 575

Introduction to air pollutants. Upon completion, students will have a knowledge of which air pollutants are of concern, their source, fate, atmospheric transport and transformation and policies developed to help manage the problem. Topics include: air pollutants of importance, air pollution impacts, sources of air pollutants, atmospheric transport (including dispersion and deposition), atmospheric chemistry, aerosol chemistry and physics, control strategy development and air pollution management. Additionally, the course covers indoor air pollution with an emphasis on issues related to airborne viral disease emission, transport, and infection.

Climate Change Economics and Policy

This course explores the economic characteristics of the climate change problem, assesses national and international policy design and implementation issues, and surveys the economic tools necessary to evaluate climate change policies. Discussion-oriented requiring high degree of student participation. Courseobjectives are increased comprehension of economic aspects of climate change and ability to apply tools of economic analysis to climate policy and the responses of firms and households to it. Course designed for graduate and advanced undergraduate students.

Conversations on Decolonization and the Climate Crisis

Decolonization and the Climate Crisis seeks to explore the linkages among three pivotal and simultaneously occurring catastrophes—criminality, displacement, pandemics—toward developing a set of principles regarding decolonization as an ethical approach to climate change. The class in operation with an FHI lab will view climate justice from the point of view of historical faultlines, exploring the socioeconomic and political machinery that produce these projects of disaster in the first place.

EDGE Seminar Series 2

The EDGE Seminar on Energy & Environment gives students a unique opportunity to learn about today’s most important energy and environment industry issues directly from senior business executives. Students have a chance to engage in candid conversations in a small-group setting with influential industry leaders. The seminars are designed to present a variety of energy and environment perspectives and cover topics ranging from global energy market economics and finance, to corporate sustainability, energy system transformation, and clean-tech commercialization and entrepreneurship.

Hope for Creation?: An Exilic Perspective

This course explores strategies for careful exegesis and preaching in view of climate crisis.

Don’t see a particular Spring 2023 climate – or sustainability- related course on this list, but think it should be included? Please email