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


This project team will work closely with the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association and local neighborhood representatives to design research and outreach projects on the distribution of socioeconomic capital, chemical pollution and ecological amenities throughout the Ellerbe Creek watershed.  Read more about A City and Its River: Contaminant Risk in Durham's Ellerbe Creek Watershed (2022-2023) »

Madagascar from space.

This project team will examine the sustainability of the current livelihood strategies of forest frontier communities in Madagascar and develop strategies for transition toward sustainable lifestyles.  Read more about Biocultural Sustainability in Madagascar (2022-2023) »

Can on a beach.

This project team will optimize the enzymatic degradation system for high-efficiency plastic degradation; validate the plastic-degrading capacity of candidate bacteria that have been identified; and determine the ways in which plastic acts as a carrier for environmental toxins. Read more about Bioremediation of Plastic Pollution to Conserve Marine Biodiversity (2022-2023) »

Field and silos.

This project team seeks to document the history of racial inequities in the American South through an environmental justice lens. Read more about Collecting Oral Histories of Environmental Racism and Injustice (2022-2023) »

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

This project team will combine the fields of biology, evolutionary biology, ecology, microbiology and math to address the role of microbial communities in the global carbon cycle. Read more about Effects of Climate Change on Microbial Food Webs (2022-2023) »

Diagram of algae windows.

This project team will identify, design and prototype new energy technologies, systems or approaches. Read more about Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2022-2023) »

Women looking at computers.

This project team will address these challenges by providing educational modules and mentorship focused on the intersection of environmental science and health. Read more about Enhancing Diversity in STEM Careers Through Mentored Training (2022-2023) »

Swine facility.

This project team will focus on two primary goals: confronting systemic exploitation in decarbonization policy and creating an equitable, community-led alternative. Read more about Environmental Justice, Climate Change and Community Engagement (2022-2023) »


This project team will facilitate interaction across social, ecological and educational disciplines and create a template for community-based restoration projects in increasing coastal resiliency and restoring biodiversity. Read more about Exploring Links Among Ecological, Social and Personal Resilience (2022-2023) »

Whales diving.

This project team will use tissue biopsies from three species of wild free-ranging cetaceans that exhibit different diving patterns, in order to conduct hypothesis-driven experiments on molecular analysis of hypoxia pathways. Read more about Learning from Whales: Oxygen, Ecosystems and Human Health (2022-2023) »

Boat on the water.

This project team will refine and develop evidence maps and related products in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History.  Read more about Marine Conservation Evidence and Synthesis (2022-2023) »

Zooplankton sampling.

This project team will fabricate and test a beta version of a “planktoscope” that has the ability to automatically take pictures of and identify larger plankton (including zooplankton/predators) from marine samples. Read more about Pilot PlanktoScope for Climate Change Research (2022-2023) »

Energy & Environment Courses

Gateway Courses

EGR 95FS-01: Emerging Materials and Technologies for Energy Future

Fall 2022
Instructor: Nico Hotz

This course explores novel materials and technologies that have the promise to fundamentally transform the current energy infrastructure. With the ever-growing global demand for clean, efficient and affordable energy, entirely new approaches are needed to solve the potential energy crisis humanity... Read more about Emerging Materials and Technologies for Energy Future  »

EGR 95FS-03: Sustainable Energy Project: Engineering Design and Communication

Fall 2022
Instructor: Rebecca Simmons

In this course, students learn and apply the engineering design process to solve an authentic energy design problem. A variety of local and international nonprofits, companies, medical facilities and organizations pose real-world design questions related to sustainable energy. Read more about Sustainable Energy Project: Engineering Design and Communication »

ENERGY 190FS-01: Energy Policy for a Changing World

Fall 2022
Instructor: Brian Murray

This course establishes a broad introduction to contemporary energy topics related to power generation, delivery, energy conversion and efficiency. Both well-established and new methods of energy generation and conversion are discussed, focusing on electricity generation by fossil fuels, nuclear,... Read more about Energy Policy for a Changing World »

ENERGY 190FS-02: History of Energy

Fall 2022
Instructor: Tom Cinq-Mars

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 »

Other Undergraduate Courses

BIOLOGY 335A: Drones in Marine Biology, Ecology and Conservation

Spring 2023
Instructor: David Johnston

In this course, students will explore the applications of drones in coastal biological and ecological research. Read more about Drones in Marine Biology, Ecology and Conservation »

ENERGY 89S: Energy & Society

Spring 2023
Instructor: Tom Cinq-Mars

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 2023
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: The Theory and Practice of Sustainability

Spring 2023
Instructor: Charlotte Clark

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 The Theory and Practice of Sustainability »

ETHICS 288S: Ethical Dimensions of Environmental Policy

Spring 2023
Instructor: Brianna K Jowers

This course uses case studies from different arenas of environmental policy (e.g. climate and clean air, water and waste, forests, oceans, energy) to surface normative assumptions often implicit in policy design and implementation. Read more about Ethical Dimensions of Environmental Policy »

Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

EGRMGMT 590: Energy Transitions

Fall 2022
Instructor: Bobby Compton

This course focuses on teaching students practical career skills in fossil fuel asset decarbonization, carbon-capture utilization and storage solutions and renewable energy technologies, focusing on pragmatic applications of theory and industry problem solving techniques that integrate engineering... Read more about Energy Transitions »

ENERGY 588: A Practical Introduction to Solar Energy Project Development in The U.S.

Spring 2023
Instructor: Luana Lima, Jackson Naftel

While most of the electricity in the U.S. is generated using fossil based fuels, there is growing demand for power from renewable sources. Market factors and societal pressures are pushing electric utilities to consider, and in some cases, embrace renewable power generation throughout the U.S. Read more about A Practical Introduction to Solar Energy Project Development in The U.S. »

ENVIRON 590: New Ventures Clinic: Climate

Spring 2023
Instructor: Jon Fjeld

In this course, students will work in teams of four to six to explore new ventures related to climate innovation. Read more about New Ventures Clinic: Climate »

ENVIRON 592: U.N. Climate Change Negotiation Practicum

Fall 2022
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 »

ENVIRON  590-01: Evaluating Environmental Programs

Fall 2022
Instructor: Charlotte Clark

Program evaluation is an essential skill among environmental managers, educators, and decision-makers. Read more about Evaluating Environmental Programs »