How can we ensure planetary health and access to modern energy for all?

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


  • 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

Related programs/courses

Public Policy Studies major

  • 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

Student Feature

Narissa Jimenez-Petchumrus is pursuing a dual-degree with the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Nicholas School of the Environment, specializing in Energy and Environment. Narissa is a Stanback Fellow with the North Carolina Sierra Club and part of a Bass Connections Student Research Awards team doing research on the distribution of urban greenspace and impacts on health outcomes.

Read Narissa's student perspective

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

Faculty Spotlight


Alex Pfaff

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.

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

Key Faculty: Environment & Energy Policy

Take a look at core members of our faculty who focus on policy related to environment and energy.

Core Faculty

Diversity Spotlight

The Ways & Means podcast​ team hosted a live Climate Whistleblowers event in fall 2020 as a part of Duke Energy Week 2020. Featured guests include environmental justice activist Hilton Kelley. Kelley won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for his work in Port Arthur, Texas. A former Hollywood stuntman, Kelley returned to his childhood home of Port Arthur to battle for environmental justice.

Watch the event

Latest News: Energy & Environment

Featured Video

Faculty in the Field: Subhrendu Pattanayak, Nepal

Faculty in the News: Energy & Environment

Featured Podcast

Ways & Means: Nepal

Audio transcript

A research team treks the Himalayas to investigate micro-hydro minigrids. 

Featured podcast

Policy 360: Belt & Road

Audio transcript

Exploring the environmental impact of a massive international infrastructure project.