mem student helps craft n.c. environmental policy
Savannah Artusi, a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) and Juris Doctor concurrent degree student, spent her summer as a policy fellow for Sierra Club’s North Carolina chapter.
Helping coffee Farmers Adapt to Climate Change
A partnership between the Nicholas School of the Environment and Counter Culture Coffee looks to help small coffee farmers in Latin America adapt to the effects of climate change, a daunting challenge that has increasingly preoccupied the $70 billion coffee industry for the past decade.
summer fellowship: visualizing conservation data
An inside look at Nicholas School graduate student Sunny Qiao’s summer Stanback Fellowship at the National Parks Conservation Association in Washington, D.C.
master's project: guiding solar farm development
Olivia Eskew (MEM’18) focused her master's project on creating a guide to assist solar developers and farmers reap the agricultural and financial benefits of developing solar farms that use pollinator-friendly vegetation.
Ecosystem Science & Conservation students receive in-depth training in:
- Landscape management
- Ecosystem services
- Geospatial analysis
- Field survey techniques
- Community-based environmental management
The defining feature of the ESC program is a “topic x toolkit” framework that allows us to create a customized curriculum tailored to each student’s background, interests and career goals. It works like this: You pick a topic area (for example, wetlands) and a toolkit (for example, geospatial analysis) that best fit your needs. Based on these choices, your advisor will help you select the core knowledge and skills courses you need to work effectively in your chosen area of specialization. You can choose from a wide array of courses offered across Duke and at our partner institutions.
See Master of Environmental Management program prerequisites.
ADDITional prerequisiteS for ESC Students
Some previous training in the natural sciences or the social sciences related to the student’s area of interest.
- At least one semester of college calculus.
- A college statistics course that includes descriptive statistics, probability distributions, hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, correlation, simple linear regression, and simple ANOVAs.
- A college course in Principles of Ecology.
- Microeconomics is not required for the ESC program but it is required for Resource & Environmental Economics (ENVIRON 520), a course taken by many ESC students.
Courses & Requirements
In addition to the MEM degree requirements, a typical ESC curriculum consists of the following components.
- 4 courses/tutorials required for all MEM students (6-8 credit hours)
- 3 Core Courses for your selected topic area (9 credit hours minimum)
- 4 Tools Courses for your selected toolkit (12 credit hours minimum)
- 3 Specialized Elective Courses to complement your curriculum (9 credit hours minimum)
- Master’s Project (4-6 credit hours)
- Additional electives to meet the 48-credit hour minimum for degree completion
Requirements for All MEM Students
All MEM students must take the following courses:
- ENVIRON 898 MP Seminar (1 credit hour to be awarded at the end of 4 semesters)
- ENVIRON 899 Master’s Project (4-6 credit hours)
REQUIRED FOR ESC Program
Courses supporting the ESC program are taught within the Nicholas School, at several other departments at Duke, and at UNC-Chapel Hill and NCSU. This list of example courses is not exhaustive.
Students choose at least three Core Courses for a total of 9 credit hours minimum. Two should be in the natural sciences (one of which must be in the selected topic area and which together must total 6 credit hours minimum), and one should be in the social sciences.
Suggested courses for an ecosystems focus:
- ENVIRON 503 Forest Ecosystems (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 505 Functional Ecology of Plants (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 517 Tropical Ecology (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 564 Biogeochemistry (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 714 Landscape Ecology (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 744 Ecology and Conservation of Streams and Rivers (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 812 Wetlands Ecology/Management (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 721L Soil Resources (3 credit hours)
Suggested courses for a watershed management focus:
- ENVIRON 734L Watershed Hydrology (3 credit hours)
- EOS 723 Landscape Hydrology (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 740 Water Resources Planning and Management (1.5 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 741 Water Resources Finances (1.5 credit hours)
Suggested courses for a conservation focus:
- ENVIRON 703 Conservation Biology; Theory and Practice (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 714 Landscape Ecology (3 credit hours)
- EVANTH 184 Primate Conservation (may not be taken for degree credit or program requirements))
- UNC/BIOL 661 Plant Ecology (4 credit hours)
- UNC/GEOG 444 Landscape Biogeography (3 credit hours)
Choose a social science course that will provide an overview and context for the concentration. The most appropriate choices include:
- ENVIRON 520 & 521 Resource and Environmental Economics I & II (3 credit hours total)
- ENVIRON 520 Resource and Environmental Economics and 680 Economics of Forest Resources (3 credit hours total)
- ENVIRON 577 Environmental Politics (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 835 Environmental Law (3 credit hours)
Students choose at least four Tools Courses for a total of 12 credit hours minimum. Choose one general statistics course (advanced, if introductory level course already met in prerequisites), two courses from a single approach, and one additional course from a different but complementary approach.
- ENVIRON 710 Applied Data Analysis for Environmental Science (3 credit hours)
Other similar courses (e.g., at NCSU or UNC) may be substituted with the advisor’s consent.
(Note: While some of these are 4-credit hour courses, only 3 credit hours count per course in meeting the tools distributional requirement):
- ENVIRON 559 Fundamentals of Geospatial Analysis (4 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 724 Landscape Analysis and Management (4 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 761 Geospatial Analysis for Conservation & Mgmt (4 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 765 Geospatial Analysis for Marine and Coastal Mgmt (4 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 787 GIS for Water Quality and Quantity Assessment (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 857L Remote Sensing for Environmental Analysis (4 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 859 Advanced Geospatial Analysis (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 557 Social Science Surveys (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 556 Environmental Conflict Resolution (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 579S Collective Action (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 590.67 Participatory Methods (2 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 755 Community-based Environmental Management (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 758 Applied Qualitative Research Methods (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 832 Environmental Decision Analysis (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 850 Program Evaluations of Environmental Policies (3 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 869: Environmental Law Clinic (4 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 887A Theory and Methods for Policy Analysis of the Commons (3 credit hours, Beaufort)
- ENVIRON 701 Forest Measurements (4 credit hours)
- ENVIRON 706 Wildlife Surveys (3 credit hours)
- EVANTH 344L Primate Field Biology (3 credit hours - note that undergraduate courses are tallied in “units” and 1 unit=3 credits.)
Various natural-history courses (ornithology, entomology, etc. at Duke, UNC, and NCSU)
- ENVIRON 655L/BIOLOGY 655L Bayesian Inference for Environmental Models (3 credit hours)
- UNC/ENVR 470 Risk Assessment (3 credit hours)
Advanced regression or other advanced statistics courses as appropriate.
SPECIALIZED ELECTIVE COURSES
The purpose of specialized elective courses is to support your topical concentration and Master’s Project and advance your career goals. Each student must select at least three electives (9 credit hours minimum) including one natural science course, one social science course, and one synthesis course. These courses should complement the rest of your curriculum and may be selected from the Concentration Courses and Tools Courses listed above, or from among many others in the Duke, UNC and NC State catalogs.
Students typically must take several additional elective courses to fulfill the minimum 48-credit hour requirement for degree completion. We suggest additional specializing electives, although alternative plans (for example, foreign languages) are acceptable. Several seminar courses are also popular with ESC students.
For Current & Admitted Students
- MEM & MF Admitted Students Website
- Master's Advising Guide - Academic policies; guidelines from the NSOE Registrar
A Master’s Project combines the academic rigor of a thesis with the practical experience of an internship. Working singly or in groups, students apply skills and knowledge they’ve acquired in the classroom to tackle real-world environmental challenges for real clients through a well-formulated and defensible analysis. The MP typically culminates in a paper and presentation in the program’s final semester. It fulfills 4-6 credit hours. The ESC program requires a business-sponsored MP with specific consulting components detailed to you when you start your second year.
The Nicholas School’s dedicated Career & Professional Development Center has helped hundreds of ESC graduates find fulfilling positions in federal agencies, conservation nonprofits, state governments, international organizations, the private sector, and regional and local land trusts. Among the high-profile places you’ll find our alums are: USDA Forest Service, the US National Park Service, the Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund.
2020 Employer List for ESC Graduates
Business / Industry / Start-up
- Finite Carbon; Forest Carbon Analyst – Arlington, VA
- Sierra Orchards; Director of Marketing and Sustainability – Winters, CA
- Weyerhaeuser Company; Forest Engineering Specialist – Eugene, OR
Non-profit/ NGO / Research/ Think Tank
- Conservation International; Manager, Spatial Analyst – Washington, DC
- GRID Alternatives; SolarCorps Fellow; Remote
- Lola ya Bonobo; Program Coordinator – Durham, NC
- North Carolina State University - Institute for Transportation Research and Education; Research Assistant – Raleigh, NC
- Wildlands Network; GIS Specialist – Durham, NC
Federal / State / Local Government
- Bureau of Land Management; Forester – Brooklyn, NY
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve; GIS Stewardship Specialist – Eastpoint, FL
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; Program Coordinator – St. Paul, MN
- NC Wildlife Resources Commission; Human-Wildlife Interactions Biologist – Raleigh, NC
- US EPA; Biologist – Durham, NC
- US EPA; ORISE Fellow – Durham, NC
- US EPA; Program Analyst – Washington, DC
- US Forest Service; Natural Resource Specialist – South Lake Tahoe, CA
- US Forest Service; Resource Program Assistant – Asheville, NC
- US Geological Survey; Science and Policy Analyst – Fort Collins, CO
- Columbia University; PhD student, Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology – New York, NY
- Yale University; PhD student – New Haven, CT
The first destination employment report for December and May Master of Environmental Management and Master of Forestry graduates covers geographic distribution, employment by sector and salary ranges.
I had the opportunity to take a wide variety of classes, including two environmental law courses at the law school. This coursework, paired with my certificate in GIS, has proved to be an extremely valuable combination in the work I do today. I know, without a doubt, that I would not be in the position I am today without the education and training I received at the Nicholas School."
–Nick DiLuzio, MEM/MF’10, Partner at NewFields
ALum Helps Create National Marine Sanctuary
It took five years of planning, dozens of negotiations, hundreds of meetings, briefings and community events, and an inexhaustible supply of coffee and optimism for Joel Dunn MEM'04 to realize his dream of seeing Mallows Bay designated as a national marine sanctuary.
Nicholas Alumna takes us inside California’s wildfire crisis
As wildfires in 2020 sent thousands in California fleeing their homes, attention focused on the role of the state's largest utility. Duke alumna Melissa Semcer, MEM'07, had the job of holding the utility accountable.
The Art of Mastering Concurrent Degrees
Environmental issues today can be complex, crossing many legal, political, economic and health fields, and requiring a multidisciplinary approach to finding solutions. Meet four alumni who took advantage of concurrent degree programs to expand their skillsets and professional networks.
alums' research lights up flagship net zero energy Mcdonald's
From an environmental point of view, the most magical new attraction at the Magic Kingdom this year isn’t a ride or show. It’s a McDonald’s – the first of its kind anywhere – that generates all its own energy from renewable sources.
MEM Alum to host National Geographic documentary
Shannon Switzer Swanson MEM'15 will act as on-air host for “The Last Drop," a National Geographic Channel documentary about water scarcity in the West and the extraordinary efforts underway to preserve the dwindling supply.
From the Program Chair
Biodiversity loss, deforestation, and climate change are rapidly transforming the World’s ecosystems. More than ever before, we need leaders and managers who are up to the challenge of conserving, managing, and restoring the ecosystems that provide the resources and services humans depend on to live and the processes that natural systems need to function.
The Ecosystem Science and Conservation program trains future leaders who can think across disciplines and who can apply cutting edge tools such as GIS, remote sensing, statistical modeling, project management and community-based management to solve environmental problems.
You’ll find Nicholas School alums pursuing their passion and making positive impacts worldwide. Our programs give them the foundational knowledge and practical skills to become leaders and innovators in a wide array of fields and sectors.
August 16, 2021
April 21, 2021 | Ecology & Conservation, WetlandsAlumni News