Thought-Provoking Conversations on the Environment
Based out of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, the mission of the Environmental Academy is to inspire our alumni, friends and the broader Duke community through environmental thought leadership discussions on issues affecting our planet. It includes lecture series, podcasts and discussions on the Nicholas School’s interdisciplinary environmental academic and research initiatives.
No events at this time
Ferguson Lecture Brings Nobel Laureate Steven Chu to Duke
This year’s Ferguson Lecture brought Nobel Laureate Steven Chu to campus to join Dean Toddi Steelman in a free-wheeling conversation about the future of renewable energy. Dr. Chu was Secretary of Energy under President Barack Obama and is widely cited for his influential research on alternative energy sources to help wean us off our carbon addiction.
The Superfund Research Center Series
20+ Years of Research Impact
The Duke University Superfund Research Center (DUSRC) is celebrating 20+ years of research impact as it enters its next five-year funding phase from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). DUSRC focuses on early life exposures to environmental contaminants and their impact on human wellbeing from birth throughout life. Much of our understanding of chemical contaminants, how to measure them in the environment, their effects on human health outcomes and remediation techniques is due to DUSRC research.
Join us for a 3-part series where we explore the DUSRC, its history, research success, and the role of the Center in improving the lives of people living in Superfund communities. Each talk will be led by Principal Investigators of the Center and includes a range of case studies that demonstrate their influence on improving human health outcomes.
DUSRC: What do we do and why it is important
with Heather Stapleton and Rich Di Giulio
Watch playback from September 2022 event
DUSRC: Influencing environmental health policy and training the leaders of tomorrow
with Heather Stapleton and Joel Meyer
Watch playback from October 2022 event
DUSRC: Engaging, educating and empowering communities impacted by chemical contaminants in their environment
Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza and Veronica Carter
Watch playback from November 2022 event
Marine Protected Areas: Opportunities and Challenges
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are globally important environmental management tools that provide protection from the effects of human activities, and support the conservation of marine biological diversity, habitats, and ecosystems. Living alongside MPAs are communities that rely on ocean resources for subsistence and economic stability.
Join Dale Threatt-Taylor, Nicholas School of the Environment board member and Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy of South Carolina, for a discussion with Nicholas School faculty David Gill, Assistant Professor at the Marine Laboratory and Gabby Ahmadia, Director of Marine Conversation Science, Oceans Conservation Team, WWF, as they discuss balancing biodiversity and human well-being, and the unique power of academic-NGO partnerships in improving outcomes.
This event was held Wednesday, April 20, 2022.
Research Week: A Week-Long Celebration of Research at Duke
Two climate panels hosted during Research Week 2022 highlighted the convergence of disciplines necessary to mitigate the effects of and adapt to climate change as we consider consequences across our global community. Researchers working in Energy Transformation, Climate Resilience, Data and Climate, and Climate Justice discussed ongoing climate change challenges, and provided insight into our path forward towards socially just climate solutions.
Moderator: Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment, Toddi Steelman, PhD
- Elizabeth Albright, PhD
- Emily Bernhardt, PhD
- James Clark, PhD
- Marc Jeuland, PhD
- Brian McAdoo, PhD
Moderator: Mohamed Noor, PhD
- Mark Borsuk, PhD
- Kay Jowers, PhD
- Dalia Patino-Echeverri, PhD
- Brian Silliman, PhD
- Jonathan Wiener, JD
A Conversation with Sandra Postel
Ferguson Family Distinguished Lectureship Series
Sandra Postel is director of the Global Water Policy Project and the 2021 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate. For six years, she served as Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society, where she spearheaded an initiative that has restored billions of gallons of water to depleted rivers and wetlands across North America. Postel‘s award-winning book Last Oasis appeared in eight languages and served as the basis for a public television documentary. She is the author most recently of Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity.
Journey to Antarctica: Exploring the Biological Process of our Climate System
Join the Environmental Academy for a conversation with Nicholas School faculty Nicolas Cassar, as he shares more about his research. Nicolas studies the movement of Earth’s essential elements (e.g., nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen) between the ocean, atmosphere, ground and living organisms. To that end, he has developed new methods to explore the complex interplay between chemistry, biology, and our interconnected global climate system. In this talk, he will discuss the importance of photosynthesis, arguably the most critical and poorly understood biological process of our climate system. He will explain recently discovered pathways by which climate change may be impacting photosynthesis in the waters surrounding Antarctica, a region with disproportionate influence on our global climate.
This event was held January 25, 2022.
Dean Steelman & Vincent Price: Duke’s Environment Initiative
As the Duke community begins to look toward a second century, President Price has described a bold vision for Duke: to become nothing less than the leading university of a changing world, to solve the most pressing challenges and advance humankind.
Join us for a leadership conversation with President Price and Toddi Steelman Ph.D.’96, Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment, to hear how Duke’s progress on climate change is vital to these goals. President Price and Dean Steelman will discuss how climate action is being institutionalized at Duke and how Duke is empowering the boldest thinkers and forging innovative partnerships to tackle the climate crisis.
This conversation will be part of a series focusing on President Price’s strategic framework, Toward our Second Century.
Moderated by: Mychal Harrison '01, President, Duke Alumni Board of Directors. This event was held January 19, 2022.
Carbon Farming Part II: The Role of Markets and Policy in Enhanced Carbon Sequestration
Join Nicholas School of the Environment faculty Brian Murray, Interim Director, Nicholas Institute & Duke University Energy Initiative and Lydia Olander, Director, Ecosystem Services Program at the Nicholas Institute for a discussion on the role of markets and policy on hastening and improving carbon sequestration.
This virtual event was held December 1, 2021.
Carbon Farming Part I: Improving Soil Health and Farm Profitability while Sequestering Carbon
Join Nicholas School of the Environment faculty Curt Richardson, John O. Blackburn Distinguished Professor of Resource Ecology, for a discussion on climate smart agriculture, including carbon sequestration on agricultural lands, and innovative farming practices designed to support agricultural growth and stability.
This event was held November 17, 2021.
Complexities of African Wildlife Conservation and Management: Defining the human and environmental challenges to wildlife movement and survival
Human impact on essential wildlife movement is multifaceted, including manmade barriers to food and water sources, direct conflict of animals with nearby communities, and the expanding impact of climate change. Join the Environmental Academy for a conversation with John Poulsen, Associate Professor of Tropical Ecology, Jennifer Swenson, Associate Professor of the Practice of Geospatial Analysis, and Marc Jeuland, Associate Professor, Public Policy and Global Health, as they share how their research on Forest Elephant movement, the impact of ephemeral water on African wildlife migration, and the potential power of policy in a changing landscape.
This event was held October 27, 7:30 – 9:00 PM
Wildfires and Climate Change, a conversation with Dean Steelman
Stanback Dean and President of the International Association of Wildland Fire, Toddi Steelman, shares her thoughts and insights on wildfires and climate change as the planet continues to adapt and we seek opportunities for climate progress.
Belugas and Bears: Sentinels of the New Arctic
Join the Environmental Academy for a conversation with Nicholas School faculty Andy Read, Dave Johnston and Dean Steelman as they share more about their research as they prepare for their upcoming travel to the Arctic and Alaska. This talk focuses on their research and connection to the region.
The Climate Initiative: Duke’s Emerging Plan for Maximizing Global Impact
Join Dean Steelman for a conversation on Duke’s commitment to the environment through the new Duke Climate Initiative. Learn more about how climate and data science, climate resiliency, and energy transformation will form the foundation for the environmental solutions of tomorrow.
Duke Forest: Celebrating 90 Years of Research, Teaching, Forestry, and Conservation
Maybe you know its hiking trails. Maybe you cited research on it when you were here at Duke. But do you know the whole story behind the Duke Forest Teaching and Research Laboratory?
Tune into this presentation with Director Sara Childs to learn more about this unique land base and how it has evolved – from the thousands of years of human history prior to Duke’s ownership, to birthing the first graduate school of forestry in the American South, and now as a dynamic outdoor classroom, living laboratory, and a regional hub for ecosystem services.
Founded in 1931, the Duke Forest is part of the university’s origin story, and it endures in the Duke DNA. As we celebrate its 90th anniversary, all Blue Devils will enjoy learning about this unique land base and why Duke is known as “the university in the forest”.
Drones are Revolutionizing Marine Science and Conservation
Unoccupied aircraft systems (UAS, also known as drones) are game-changing tools used for on-demand aerial surveys and mapping. Join Dave Johnston, Associate Professor of the Practice in Marine Conservation Ecology at the Nicholas School of the Environment for a dive into the innovative ways UAS are advancing marine science research and conversation work.
Baja Communities & Sustainability
Join Nicholas School of the Environment faculty Xavier Basurto, Associate Professor of Sustainability Science for a discussion on his research and large-scale collaborations between academia, practitioners, and fishing organizations in Baja California.
A native from Mexico, Xavier has almost 30 years of experience exploring and doing research in the Baja California and Northwest Mexico. As an undergraduate student Xavier studied the unique island biology and ecology of the Islands of Baja California. As a graduate student Xavier lived in several fishing communities and was exposed to the complex ways in which coastal communities interact with these beautiful and rich marine ecosystems. One of the enduring questions his research explores is: why some communities in the Baja peninsula can organize and succeed at using their resources sustainably while others fail?
This event was held Wednesday, May 12, 2021.
Join Nicholas School of the Environment faculty Brian Silliman, Rachel Carson Distinguished Professor of Marine Conservation Biology, with guests Jeff Vincent, Clarence F. Korstian Professor of Forest Economics and Management, Nicholas Institute faculty, Lydia Olander, Director of the Ecosystem Services Program and John Virdin, Director of the Ocean and Coastal Policy Program, for an interdisciplinary discussion of innovative approaches to global ecosystem restoration. Using examples from marine and terrestrial systems, they will explore opportunities and challenges associated with using ecological and economic knowledge and technology to support the sustainability and scaling of restoration initiatives.
This event was held Wednesday, April 28, 2021.
Amplifying Environmental Justice
The concept of environmental justice can provide a useful means for communities disproportionately impacted by environmental degradation or lack access to environmental benefits to examine, explain and fight for fair treatment and meaningful involvement in defining and implementing solutions.
Join the discussion with environmental professionals as they share the challenges and opportunities they face, both personally and professionally, as they engage on issues of environmental justice.
- Sherri White-Williamson, Environmental Justice Policy Director, North Carolina Conservation Network
- Melanie Allen, Co-Director, Hive Fund
- Yesenia Cuello, Executive Director, NC Field
This panel was held on Thursday, April 1, 2021.
Impact Investing in Water Infrastructure
Join Nicholas School of the Environment faculty Martin Doyle, Professor of River System Science and Policy, with guests Emma Rasiel, Teaching Director of the Duke Financial Economics Center and Professor of the Practice of Economics, and Nicholas School alumnus Jason Lee F’17, Associate Director at Quantified Ventures, for a discussion on water as an investable asset. These leading research faculty and Duke alum will discuss finance and the environment, sharing insights on the rising number of opportunities at the intersection of impact investing and environmental conservation.
This event was held on Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
Managing Your Organization's Footprint
Most of us think about how our personal behaviors can be modified to lighten our impact on the planet. But, we sometimes neglect to fully consider how the organizations we work for play a role in setting environmental leadership behaviors. Join the discussion with leading Nicholas School alumni from the public, private and non-profit sectors work to learn how they manage their organizations’ environmental footprint.
- Katya Hantel MEM‘12, Senior Director, Sustainability at Conagra Brands
Cam Sholly MEM’10, Superintendent, Yellowstone National Park
Dale Threatt Taylor MEM’11, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy – South Carolina Chapter
This event was held on Thursday, March 18, 2021.
Environmental Rollbacks and the Impacts
Recently, on behalf of the Nicholas School Board of Visitors, members Dorry Kee T’74, Jim Fuechsel T’76, and Dr. Mamie Parker, participated in a thought-provoking conversation on the current challenges and approaches to environmental rollbacks and their impacts on the energy sector and climate change along with Nicholas School faculty members through a new program called 'Nic@Night'.
Impacts in the Energy Sector
The first event was a discussion with Lori Bennear, Juli Plant Grainger Associate Professor of Energy Economics and Policy; and Tim Johnson, Professor of the Practice of Energy and the Environment and Chair of Energy & Environmental Programs where they discussed environmental rollbacks impact in the energy sector.
Impacts on climate change
The second event was a discussion with Megan Mullin, Dan and Bunny Gabel, Associate Professor of Environmental Politics; and Drew Shindell, Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Earth Science, where the conversation shifted to environmental rollbacks impact on climate change.
More Ways to Engage
Professional Trainings & Workshops
The Nicholas School Executive Education programs are designed with the working environmental professional in mind, focusing on courses that will hone your skills and develop your ability to spearhead environmental change in your organization.
Journey along with Duke alumni, parents and friends to fascinating places to learn and connect with Duke faculty and host leaders. The Nicholas School is currently offering a Journey to Antarctica with Dr. Nicolas Cassar scheduled for January 2023.
OCeans Webinar Series
The Future of Our Oceans is an event series created to share new research-based insights, explore complex and contested questions, and ultimately shed new light on how to balance human demands and ocean health.
The series was created by Oceans@Duke, an interdisciplinary network of faculty and students at Duke University.
Building a Sustainable Future
Getting to a more sustainable future will not be easy. The threats faced by current and future generations are monumental. Climate change is altering our environment and disrupting crucial food and water systems. To stop destructive processes and create sustainable solutions, we need knowledge, vision and leadership.
We need to be bold. And we need your help.