Nicholas School Faculty Help Launch New Masters Program in Vietnam

October 23, 2011

Colin Hoogerwerf, MEM ‘13, Nicholas School Communications Student Assistant

DURHAM, N.C. – Faculty members from the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University are working with their counterparts at the Vietnamese National University at Ho Chi Minh City (VNU-HCM) to create that nation’s first master’s degree program in public policy for environmental protection.

The new degree will be administered and awarded by VNU.  Duke faculty members are serving only as advisors to help VNA faculty develop the program.

The program is being funded by the GE Foundation.  It will train VNU-HCM students to be informed and knowledgeable policymakers, able to craft the regulations and legislation necessary to address the environmental challenges the Southeast Asian nation now faces.  Those challenges include pollution, deforestation, and the threat of global climate change to food production and fisheries.

Lori Bennear, assistant professor of environmental economics and policy; Joel Meyer, assistant professor of environmental toxicology; Bob Healy, professor emeritus of environmental policy; and Dalia Patino Echeverri, Gendell Assistant Professor of Energy Systems and Public Policy, are among the Nicholas School faculty serving as collaborators and mentors to the VNU-HCM educators. 

The program is scheduled to start in 2012.  Four of the program’s Vietnamese faculty already spent a semester at Duke as visiting scholars and another four are here this fall. A continued relationship with Duke will be important to sustain the program, officials from VNU-HCM said. In addition, it is hoped that Duke students will be spending summer in Vietnam, working on projects identified by the VNU-HCM faculty.

Visiting scholars from VNU recently presented ideas for collaborative research on environmental policy topics at Duke.  These topics include global environmental health, land use policy and energy policy.

For more information, including about possible internships, contact Erika Weinthal, associate professor of environmental policy, who coordinates the program on behalf of the Nicholas School.  Weinthal can be contacted at

Additional information can be obtained from Francis Lethem, associate dean for executive education programs and professor of the practice of public policy at the Sanford School, at