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. 

Related Programs & Courses


The Public Policy Studies major is a perennial top major at Duke University.


  • MPP (Environment and Energy Specialization available) - view concentration requirements
  • MPP/Master of Environmental Management (MEM) or Master of Forestry (MF) – dual degree options with Sanford School/Nicholas School
  • IMEP (International Master of Environmental Policy)


  • PhD in Public Policy
  • PhD – University Program in Environmental Policy - joint program with Sanford School/Nicholas School

Graduate-level elective courses include:

  • Climate Change Economics and Policy
  • International Environmental Policy
  • Collective Action
  • Sustainable Development
  • Environment & Development
  • Energy & Development
  • Global Environmental Health


  • top-ranked Nicholas School of the Environment
  • Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions designing policy responses to the most pressing environmental and energy challenges
  • interdisciplinary project teams at the Duke University Energy Initiative


 Sanford 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.

Sanford’s faculty are generating rigorous research to inform pressing policy challenges, including persistent pollution and climate change risks.


core faculty: energy & environment

Featured Faculty & Research

Sanford faculty member smiling outdoors
Professor Alex Pfaff

Professor Alex Pfaff

Trained as an economist, Alex Pfaff  is focused on how the environment and natural resources, economic development, and a range of policies influence each other.

Woman with brown hair smiling
Professor Robyn Meeks

Professor Robyn Meeks

Robyn Meek's research is at the intersection of environmental and development economics with much of her work focusing on water and energy technologies, policies, and types of infrastructure in developing countries.


Student Spotlight

Matthew Vining MPP'23 was an environmental engineer prior to choosing to attend graduate school. Matthew is passionate about environmental issues, especially ones linked to social and human health outcomes. 

Watch his story

Research Feature

The Climate 21 Project of Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions submitted 13 memos to the Biden-Harris transition team. The recommendations focus on how Biden could use existing federal authorities to quickly tackle the climate crisis.

Read more in The Washington Post

Diversity Feature

During the 2022-2023 school year, MPP student Cameron Oglesby organized events around environmental racism. "Educating ourselves on the importance of doing environmental and climate work justly should not be an optional task,” she said. For example, one event commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Warren County protests in North Carolina, a key event in the history of the environmental justice movement. 

More about this event

Alumni Story

Lindsey Kurnath received her MPP in 2008  Her career has taken her to the White House, the highest mountain in Washington, and now the southernmost shore of New York. Lindsey has literally seen environmental policy from many angles.  She is now Deputy Superintendent of Fire Island National Seashore in New York.

Featured Podcast

How Cleaner Cookstoves Can Help Build a Healthier Planet

Our podcasts regularly feature stories about energy and environmental policy, like this episode of Ways & Means, which focuses on  how upgrading stoves for people in the developing world could improve lives and fight climate. 

Energy & Environment Policy Stories

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Faculty in the news

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Contact Us

Interested in pursuing a degree with a focus on energy & environment policy? Great! The admissions page for each program has detailed guidelines, including our contact info. Please reach out!