Creating Knowledge

We create knowledge through basic, applied, and multidisciplinary research in the relevant physical, life, and social sciences designed to expand our understanding of the Earth and its environment.

Creating Global Leaders

We develop leadership through:

  • An undergraduate academic program designed to spread understanding of the Earth and the environmental ethic to a new cadre of Duke graduates
  • A professional masters program that trains a new breed of environmental professionals working in the public, private, and non-profit sectors with the skills needed to devise and implement effective environmental policies and practices
  • A Ph.D. program dedicated to adding to a new generation of world-class scientists, researchers, and educators in the environment

Forging a Sustainable Future

We strategically focus the intellectual resources and capital amassed in research and education to address three of the most challenging environmental issues confronting society:

  • Climate and Energy
  • Terrestrial and Marine Ecosystems
  • Human Health and the Environment 


The Nicholas School celebrates its creation date as 1991, but it represents a coming together of three entities that are almost as old as the university itself. The School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Duke University Marine Lab (both formed in 1938) came together in 1991 to become the School of the Environment, which was named the Nicholas School of the Environment in 1995 following a $20 million gift from Peter M. and Ginny Nicholas of Boston. In 1997, the Department of Geology (formed in 1936) joined the school as the Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences and focuses on a number of areas at the intersection of earth and environmental sciences.


  • Nicholas School of the Environment: 1991
  • Duke University Marine Lab: 1938
  • School of Forestry: 1938
  • Department of Geology: 1936