Courses: 2017-2018 Academic Year

Fall 2017




U.N. Climate Change Negotiation Practicum
The U.N. Climate Change Negotiation Practicum is a one-credit independent study that examines the negotiation of international climate change agreements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the UNFCCC has been the primary forum for the negotiation of international agreements concerning climate change. After the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015, the UNFCCC has a new framework through which to address climate change at the international level. This unique course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental issues, negotiation process, and political dynamics of the UNFCCC, as well as provide students an opportunity to attend the negotiations while working for a client organization. (ENVIRON 593.65)

Instructors: Billy Pizer, faculty fellow at the Nicholas Institute, and Jonathan Wiener, professor, Duke School of Law.

Energy Law
The course will examine the legal framework governing energy production and consumption in the United States, and policy approaches for balancing energy needs with other societal goals. The course will include three main modules: (1) electricity sector regulation; (2) energy resources for electricity generation; and (3) oil and gas law. Key themes will include: The historic origins of public utility regulation; The major U.S. laws that govern energy production and use; The distinct roles of the federal and state governments; and Efforts to manage competing societal interests. (Energy Law 327.01)

Instructor: Amy Pickle, director of the State Policy Program at the Nicholas Institute.

Theories of Social Change
In working to create social change, groups use a variety of approaches: providing direct services; advisory, legal and educational services; policy analysis; institution building and economic development assistance. Creating social change may also include ensuring that business sectors consider social issues. Multiple disciplines can help explain their strategies and tactics. This course focuses on theories, issues, and debates related to promoting human rights and social justice in working for social change and is a forum for students participating in the Pathways of Change summer internship to reflect on and integrate their experiences. Class topics will apply the course materials specifically to the Pathways program areas: business and human rights, environmental justice, and women's rights. (Ethics 211S)

Instructor: Kay Jowers, senior policy associate at the Nicholas Institute.


Law & Society
A sociological analysis of comparative legal systems, the role of law in social change and in shaping social behavior. Topics may include the legal profession, property distribution, and the role of law in achieving racial and sexual justice. (SOCI 424)

Instructor: Kay Jowers, senior policy associate at the Nicholas Institute.

Spring 2018




Building a NGO Toolkit: From Design to Monitoring
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that address conservation issues in China face large, complex, and urgent problems. To be successful, these NGOs must be equipped with the skills to be efficient, effective, and transparent when planning, implementing, and monitoring of their conservation initiatives. In this hands-on course, students will become familiar with decision-support tools that allow organizations to systematically address strategic planning, project design, project budgeting, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, communication, and donor transparency. Students will apply these tools to real-world conservation problems.  

Instructor: Elizabeth Losos, senior fellow at the Nicholas Institute and adjunct professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment.


Climate Change Economics and Policy
Global climate change is thought by many to be the most significant environmental challenge of the 21st century. Unchecked, the continued accumulation of greenhouse gases over this century is projected to eventually warm the planet by about 3 to 8 Celsius (6 to 14 Fahrenheit), with associated impacts on the environment, economy, and society. Because the emissions of greenhouse gases result from virtually every kind of economic activity—driving a car, heating a home, operating a steel mill, raising pigs—any policy aimed at reducing emissions will have significant and broad-based impacts on the economy. This course will explore the economic characteristics of the climate change problem, assess national and international policy design and current implementation issues, and survey the economic tools necessary to evaluate climate change policies.  The course will be discussion-oriented and will require a high degree of participation by students in the classroom.  

Instructor: Billy Pizer, faculty fellow at the Nicholas Institute and professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy.

Ethical Dimensions of Environmental Policy: Energy and Climate Change 
Using case studies, this course introduces students to the ethical dimensions of decision-making in the design and implementation of environmental policy. It will focus on one case study: the potential construction of a Combined Heat and Power plant on Duke’s West Campus, which would be fueled by biogas from hog farms. Duke is considering this new way of providing energy to the University and Health System as part of Duke’s larger strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024. To understand how normative assumptions influence policies, students will conduct an ethical inquiry into Duke’s decision-making about its own energy consumption. Students will have the opportunity to conduct their own qualitative research and produce policy analysis for publication. Throughout the course, students will interact with stakeholders involved in the decision-making process about Duke’s energy future and participate in one or more skills-building workshops and/or field trips. (ETHICS 288S/GLHLTH 248S)

Instructors: Kay Jowers, senior policy associate at the Nicholas Institute; David Toole, of the Duke Divinity School, the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and the Duke Global Health Institute; and Ruxandra Popovici, senior policy associate at the Nicholas Institute

Managing the Oceans to Solve Global Problems
This course focuses on the importance of the oceans in addressing some of the central problems facing the world, including poverty, hunger, access to energy, climate change, and biodiversity loss. It introduces students to important laws and policies that make the resources and services provided by the ocean more resilient and sustainable. Students will emerge with a basic grasp of the principal legal and policy mechanisms that support reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the oceans and coasts through adaptation and marine resilience in the face of human drivers of change. The course explores such challenges as protecting corals, regulating fishing and pollution, and helping climate refugees. (ENVIRON 314)

Instructors: John Virdin, director of the Ocean and Coastal Policy Program at the Nicholas Institute and Steve Roady, faculty fellow at the Nicholas Institute.

Putting Ecosystem Services Markets into Practice
Ecosystem Services, the benefits nature provides to people, are often undervalued. As a result, these benefits are being degraded or lost at a rapid pace. Through guest lectures and published and gray literature, this class will assess how environmental markets and trading can help society value ecosystem services and improve outcomes, as well as how markets can be detrimental to sustainability and conservation goals if not well designed and implemented. (ENVIRON 590.86)

Instructor: Lydia Olander, director of the Ecosystem Services Program at the Nicholas Institute.

Economic Instruments for Environmental Protection
Environmental problems typically arise from externalities such as economic incentives that do not properly account for the societal costs of pollution, depletion of natural resources, and other environmental harms. Economists have long prescribed economic instruments, or “market-based” policies to rectify the problem. These approaches seek to assign a price, market value or some other form of monetary signal to ensure that economic transactions account for the full social cost of the good or service being provided, including its impact on the environment. This will in turn raise the cost of environmentally harmful activity and thereby create incentives to reduce those harms. Such approaches include pollution taxes, tradable emissions permits (sometimes called cap and trade), offset credits, and tradable performance standards. This course will explore these instruments as they have been applied to environmental problems such as climate change, acid rain, overfishing, deforestation and water scarcity.  The course will use economic principles and quantitative methods to assess the design and performance of these instruments in the real-world settings that they have been applied in recent years.  (ENV 891)

Instructors: Brian Murray, director of the Environmental Economics Program at the Nicholas Institute and director of the Duke University Energy Initiative.

Water Resources Finance 
This course covers the basics of water resources infrastructure finance with a focus on municipal water and wastewater and irrigation infrastructure. It examines four cases which include municipal water supply debt financing; alternative rate structures for revenue generation; public-private partnerships for infrastructure financing and operations; and private equity approaches to water conservation in the western U.S. leveraging water marketing opportunities for revenue generation. (ENVIRON 741)

Instructor: Martin Doyle, director of the Water Policy Program at the Nicholas Institute and professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy.

Advanced River Processes
This course covers detailed treatment of fluid mechanics (near-boundary turbulence), open channel hydraulics, sediment mobilization and transport (incipient motion and flux estimates), and equilibrium fluvial geomorphic features. (ENVIRON 790)

Instructor: Martin Doyle, director of the Water Policy Program at the Nicholas Institute and professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy.


Law & Society
A sociological analysis of comparative legal systems, the role of law in social change and in shaping social behavior. Topics may include the legal profession, property distribution, and the role of law in achieving racial and sexual justice. (SOCI 424)

Instructor: Kay Jowers, senior policy associate at the Nicholas Institute​​​​​​​.