Climate Courses From Economics to Ecopoetics

The Spring 2023 Climate & Sustainability Course List has something for every Duke student

Students work together in Ocean Engineering class
Many courses at Duke give students the opportunity to design and test solutions to complex environmental problems.

To help preserve the planet, the next generation of leaders must be fluent in the language, challenges and possibilities within climate and sustainability, regardless of their field of study.

"The climate crisis is upon us. How we respond to this moment will determine our future," said Tavey Capps, executive director of climate and sustainability with Sustainable Duke. "Through educating Duke students across all disciplines we can build a generation of climate and sustainability fluent leaders that are equipped to solve this challenge."

Capps said all majors need to engage with climate change in their coursework.

"We will not solve the climate crisis with technology and science alone," she said. "We need the policy makers, lawyers, artists and the philosophers to help develop the creative and complex solutions necessary to build a resilient, flourishing future."

Students in Evolving Earth and Life lab course look at specimens including shells, stones and mammoth hair.

The Spring 2023 Climate & Sustainability Course List, though not an exhaustive directory, shows more than 200 offerings across 40 different subjects. The list provides a landscape of university-wide classes with strong connections to climate and sustainability and can serve as an initial roadmap for students interested in engaging more deeply on these issues. 

Whether students are looking for a general understanding of climate change or a more comprehensive investigation into one particular topic, the list offers plenty for students of all levels to choose from. Some examples are:

  • Engineering Sustainable Design and the Global Community involves developing and prototyping real-world sustainable solutions in a local, service learning context.
  • Decolonization and the Climate Crisis investigates the links between climate change, displacement, criminality, and pandemics.
  • Waves, Beaches, and Coastline Dynamics dives into the science of coastal erosion and sea level rise.
  • Climate Tech Startups and Investors explores the rapidliy growing tech sector, grounded in conversations with founders and inventors.

Students in the forest in a Herpetology class

The Climate & Sustainability Course List is an early effort of the Duke Climate Commitment to provide more opportunities for climate and sustainability fluency, the ability to seamlessly apply and connect foundational knowledge, skills, and capabilities across a broad range of topics, disciplines, and perspectives.

The methods to help reach climate and sustainability fluency are currently in development, and Duke students, faculty, staff, and alumni may be asked for their ideas beginning in early 2023.

The Duke Climate Commitment unites the university’s education, research, operations and public service missions to address the climate crisis. The commitment builds on Duke’s longstanding leadership in climate, energy and sustainability to educate a new generation of climate-fluent innovators and create equitable solutions for all.