DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke University Board of Trustees’ Executive Committee on Friday gave final approval to the creation of a Ph.D. program in environmental policy, which builds on the university’s existing strengths in environmental science research and education, and public policy studies.

The program, which had been endorsed by faculty review committees, “will educate the people who will be shaping the next generation of environmental policy,” said Randall Kramer, professor of resource and environmental economics at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

The degree is expected to attract top students, Kramer said, noting that 17 Nicholas students interested in environmental policy are currently pursuing a Ph.D.

“The establishment of this degree program will enable Duke to recruit the best national and international students interested in environmental social science policy,” said Provost Peter Lange, the university’s top academic officer. “At a time when climate change and related environmental issues are of utmost concern to world leaders, we feel like there is no better time to launch such an important program.”

Kramer said the new degree takes advantage of existing strengths in both the Nicholas School and the Sanford School of Public Policy; both schools recently made recent senior hires in environmental policy. Also participating in the Ph.D. program will be the political science and economics departments, Duke Law School and the Fuqua School of Business.

The time to earn a Ph.D. is expected to take five years. Kramer said the program can get started quickly because the courses and faculty are already in place.

The new program is the only PhD program in the country jointly administered by a school of the environment and a public policy school. Jeffrey Vincent, Clarence F. Korstian Professor of Forest Economics and Management, has agreed to be the first Director of Graduate Studies for the program.

Vincent, who holds appointments at both the Nicholas School and Sanford Institute, will work with Dean William Chameides of the Nicholas School and Dean Bruce Kuniholm of the Sanford School to appoint a steering committee and admissions committee. Vincent is also working with the Graduate School to add information and application links on the Graduate School Web site, so the program can start receiving applications for next Fall's entering class.