The Environment and Energy concentration prepares students to evaluate, implement and influence environment and energy policy.



You can prepare for a career in environmental and energy law, regulation, policymaking, research, consulting, and advocacy. With electives, you can either develop deep expertise in a sector like climate change mitigation, or gain a broad perspective on contemporary environment and energy topics.



This concentration is for those engaged in environmental stewardship or energy development interested in careers in local, state and national governments, including regulatory agencies and legislative offices, environmental non-profits and non-governmental organizations, water and energy utilities, consultancies and research organizations, and private firms.



With unparalleled access to elective courses in environment and energy law, policy, politics and economics, you can seize growing career opportunities related to resource conservation, air and water pollution control, climate change mitigation and clean energy innovation.

Students Can

From evaluating policies to conserving natural habitat in the Amazon, promoting diffusion of solar photovoltaics in the U.S., providing clean energy and water technologies in Central and South Asia to delivering renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa, Sanford’s many environment and energy policy experts are generating research to inform pressing policy challenges.

Faculty are recognized for their expertise around the world, advising the White House, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, the World Bank, the InterAmerican Development Bank, state governments, and policymakers. They have contributed to National Academy of Sciences reports, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments, the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the Lancet-Rockefeller Commission on Planetary Health.

Options include Climate Change Economics and Policy; International Environmental Policy; Collective Action; Sustainable Development; Environment & Development; Energy & Development; Global Environmental Health. Students are afforded flexibility in formulating curricula that takes advantage of broad expertise. Duke’s unparalleled campus-wide commitment to solving environmental and energy problems is leveraged by students with diverse interests in these policy domains.

Beautiful glass building with waving grasses in foreground

Duke’s Nicholas School is home to experts across 45 environmental sectors, from atmospheric sciences, to forests and urban environment. Enroll in Duke Environment courses, gain knowledge in research laboratories, and immerse yourself in co-curricular activities that take advantage of North Carolina’s vibrant and diverse landscape.

Nicholas Institute experts operate at the intersection of academia and the policy world, informing design of carbon market programs around the world, engaging utilities, regulators, and environmental groups in planning the electric grid of the future, and leading the world in development of ecosystem accounts that more fully reflect the wellbeing and sustainability of our communities. Gain unprecedented insights into environmental policymaking and access to the leaders making environmental policy improvements.

The initiative is dedicated to advancing a safe, affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy future by training tomorrow’s energy leaders and fostering new energy discoveries.

Knowledge and Skills You Can Acquire

  • Statistical tools to test hypotheses and to evaluate policies and programs
  • Analytic tools to investigate the efficiency and equity implications of environmental programs and energy regulations and conduct welfare analyses
  • Decision-making under uncertainty
  • Methods to determine the value of non-market environmental resources (like clean air)
  • Policy expertise and research experience specific to the research interests of a client in the energy and environment space.

Policy Concentration Advisor

Sara A. Sutherland

Sara A. Sutherland

Lecturer, Univ in the Sanford School of Public Policy

Dr. Sutherland is an environmental economist whose research focuses in part on the political economy of natural resource management, with a focus on fisheries and water management. She holds a Masters degree in Economics and a PhD in Environmental Science and Management from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Sutherland collaborates with state agencies to tackle environmental issues in North Carolina. She is currently working on projects to inform legislatures on the economic value of North Carolina's natural resources including commercial fisheries and seagrass. 

For several years, she has specialized in teaching economics courses at the undergrad and graduate levels. Her classes are intended to challenge students’ preconceptions, encouraging them to understand how economic incentives drive behavior.


More: Energy & Environment

Sanford offers top-ranked environmental academics and expertise in environmental and energy policy to address policy innovations that affect the very health of our planet at a crucial time when science is being questioned.

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Student Story

Inspired by an ancestral plot of land, Cameron Oglesby MPP‘23 grew up passionate about protecting the environment. After studying environmental science and journalism, Oglesby is pursuing environmental policy in hopes of making the greatest impact.

Watch her story

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