Energy & Environment

Interdisciplinary Themes

Bass Connections projects, courses and summer programs are aligned with the following themes:

Led by the Duke University Energy Initiative

Bass Connections in Energy & Environment cuts across business, engineering, policy and science to educate tomorrow’s energy leaders, create new options through research and improve decision-making about energy.

Students at all levels and in all programs of study gain the knowledge, skills and experience needed to play leadership roles in a rapidly evolving energy future. Bass Connections in Energy & Environment raises the stakes for students and faculty by crossing boundaries through problem-focused education—boundaries among disciplines, educational levels and schools; geographic boundaries; and boundaries between the university, business, civil society and government.

Students can apply to be a part of a project team, register for a course, enroll in a curricular program, participate in energy events and join a student club.

Energy & Environment Project Teams

Trash on beach.

The project team will leverage newly identified enzymes to create a lab strain of bacteria capable of rapidly degrading plastic to restore environmental health and conserve marine biodiversity. Read more about Bioremediation of Plastic Pollution to Conserve Marine Biodiversity (2020-2021) »


This project aims to develop a series of risk-based decision scenarios of the settlement of Mars, which includes associated contexts, histories, decisions and outcomes. Read more about DECIPHER: Going to Mars - Science, Society and Sustainability (2020-2021) »


This project team will develop deep learning techniques that can automatically and rapidly scan massive volumes of remotely sensed data, such as satellite imagery, to develop detailed maps of energy infrastructure. Read more about Deep Learning for Rare Energy Infrastructure in Satellite Imagery (2020-2021) »


This project team will identify, design and prototype new energy technologies, systems or approaches. Read more about Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2020-2021) »

E-Waste Recycling.

The project team will examine the health impacts of e-waste handling among pregnant women and their children and the broader environmental and global impacts of e-waste handling. Read more about Impacts of Maternal Exposure to E-waste on Birth Outcomes (2020-2021) »

Whale tail.

This project will examine how whales have adapted tolerance to low-oxygen conditions and bridge the gap between marine mammal biology and medical advances in the study of hypoxia on living tissues. Read more about Learning from Whales: Oxygen, Ecosystems and Human Health (2020-2021) »


This project team will investigate how people living in wildland-urban interface areas in North Carolina navigate and make decisions about risk, health, safety and information sources related to wildfires. Read more about North Carolina Wildfire Risks and Public Trust (2020-2021) »


This project team will use ocean evidence gap maps to undertake in-depth literature reviews of the relationships between select conservation interventions and social-ecological outcomes. Read more about Ocean Evidence Gap Map (2020-2021) »


This project team will develop a marine microbial model system in order to examine the interplay between the key temporal and spatial patterns that shape microbial communities and processes in complex environments. Read more about Oceans of Microbiomes (2020-2021) »

Man holding stove.

This project team will develop an alkaline water electrolyzer and hydrogen storage system that can provide fuel for cooking and heating at a lower cost than using electricity from an electrochemical battery (e.g., lithium ion or lead acid), eliminating the need for a supply chain. Read more about Providing Clean Fuel for the Developing World (2021-2022) »


The project team will fill a gap in global bycatch policy by developing an exemplary model of legislation for countries to comply with the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act Import Provisions Rule. Read more about Reducing Marine Mammal Bycatch by Developing Model Legislation (2020-2021) »

Regenerative grazing.

Building upon the work of the 2019-2020 project team, this team’s primary goal will be to facilitate a dramatic expansion in the adoption and success of regenerative grazing systems in North Carolina and the Southeast. Read more about Regenerative Grazing to Mitigate Climate Change (2020-2021) »


This project team will fill critical knowledge gaps on the “productive use” landscape, including developing tools to identify hotspots for investment in technologies such as microgrids and solar-powered groundwater pumps to expand irrigation opportunities, and new business models for enhancing... Read more about Strategies for Energy, Water and Agriculture in Rural Ethiopia (2020-2021) »

Sea Turtles.

This project team will use satellite remote sensing, drone-based assessments and traditional sampling techniques to examine the biology and ecology of sea turtles in the Cayman Islands. Read more about Using Remote Sensing Tools to Address Conflicts between Humans and Sea Turtles in the Cayman Islands (2020-2021) »

Energy & Environment Courses

Gateway Courses

ENERGY 190FS: History of Energy Use and Power Generation

Fall 2020
Instructor: Jonathon Free

This course will explore the use of energy throughout human history, starting from the earliest beginnings of humanity to modern power generation. Students will consider the development of different primary energy sources over time, the history of various energy conversion and storage technologies... Read more about History of Energy Use and Power Generation »

Other Undergraduate Courses

ENERGY 390S: Energy Policy Analysis and Writing

Fall 2020
Instructor: Sarah Rispin Sedlak

This course is designed to help students develop their skills in policy analysis, policy writing and science communication with a focus on contemporary energy issues. Read more about Energy Policy Analysis and Writing »

ENERGY 89S: Energy & Society

Spring 2020
Instructor: Jonathon Free

This course explores those questions by examining the interplay between energy and society from the origins of a fossil-fueled society to the present. Read more about Energy & Society »

ENVIRON 201: Integrating Environmental Science and Policy

Spring 2020
Instructor: William Pan

This course explores the interaction between the natural and the social systems as they relate to the environment. Read more about Integrating Environmental Science and Policy »

ENVIRON 245-01: Theory and Practice Sustainability

Spring 2020
Instructor: Charlotte Clark, Tavey Capps

This course explores theories and practices of sustainability with application to the Duke campus environment, including economic, social and environmental factors, and a local to global reach. Read more about Theory and Practice Sustainability »

Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

ENERGY 590-01: Energy Case Competitions

Spring 2020
Instructor: Gary Wedding

This course will simulate a case competition format in order to provide students with experience working collaboratively in teams to address energy sector challenges, and provide the business, entrepreneurship and finance competence necessary to succeed in real-world competitions and jobs. Read more about Energy Case Competitions »

ENVIRON 593-65: U.N. Climate Change Negotiation Practicum

Fall 2020
Instructor: Billy Pizer, Jonathan Wiener

This course offers a unique opportunity for students to gain hands-on, applied experience learning about international climate policy and the negotiations process. Students will explore the intricacies of climate diplomacy, including the history of global negotiations, key issues, the current... Read more about U.N. Climate Change Negotiation Practicum »