Energy & Environment

Interdisciplinary Themes

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

Led by the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability

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

Image: Ocean plastic pollution message, by Andy D’Agorne.

This team will leverage newly identified enzymes to create a system capable of rapidly degrading plastic to restore environmental health and conserve biodiversity. Read more about Bioremediation of Plastic Pollution to Conserve Biodiversity (2024-2025) »


Image: Drinking Water from the Faucet, by ACES | Margaret Barse, Alabama Extension, public domain https://flic.kr/p/2mrFVMu

This project team will develop a simple-to-use, in-home water sampler that can be used by both individual households to assess their water and community organizations to perform large-scale water sampling campaigns.  Read more about Clean Water Through Technology-Enabled Citizen Science (2024-2025) »


Image: Collecting oyster field samples in North Carolina’s coastal waters, by NOAA Office for Coastal Management.

This project team will provide students with training and research experiences in climate change biology, molecular ecology, biogeochemistry and environmental management. Read more about Climate Change Impacts on Farmed and Wild Oysters (2024-2025) »


A person wearing sneakers with pink shoelaces holding a pink flower.

This project team will design a visual-arts-based program where children and teens can learn about climate change while being introduced to healthy coping strategies.  Read more about Climate Hope: Action Rooted in Visual Arts + Nature Education (2024-2025) »


Image: Rice farming in Sri Lanka, by Sanjini de Silva/IWMI, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This project will bring together Duke researchers and students from the University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka to implement a high-spatial resolution heat exposure monitoring program in communities impaced by chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology. Read more about Closing Heat Data Gaps in Climate Disease Frontline Communities (2024-2025) »


Image: Duke’s Chiller Plant No. 3, on Anderson St., by Bill Snead/Duke University.

This project team will determine the thickness and cost-effective Aquifer Thermal Energy Stage utilization of rocks beneath three Duke University Chiller Plants.  Read more about Duke University Chiller Plant Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage Assessment (2024-2025) »


Image: Smart Home gardens, by Jared Lazarus/Duke University

This project team will identify, design and prototype new energy technologies, systems or approaches. Read more about Energy and the Environment: Design and Innovation (2024-2025) »


Image: Cape Town Aerial, by Mikael Colville-Andersen, licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ http

This project team will seek to understand the justice implications of energy transition during energy crisis as experienced in Cape Town, South Africa. Read more about Energy Transition During Energy Crisis: Cape Town's Experience (2024-2025) »


Image from Health and Environment Scholars @Duke website https://sites.duke.edu/hesp/

This project seeks to diversify STEM fields by providing educational modules and mentorship for high school students and providing teachers with training on how to use our curriculum in their own classrooms. Read more about Enhancing Diversity in STEM Careers Through Mentored Training (2024-2025) »


Sunrise at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC, by Jared Lazarus.

This project team will refine a middle school resilience curriculum and create youth-led art and resilience story community events to expand the role of education, art and storytelling in fostering environmental literacy and resiliency. Read more about Fostering Climate Resilience Through Education and Arts (2024-2025) »


Image: Emily Ury measures soil salinity in a ghost forest, by Emily Bernhardt/Duke University

This project team will analyze, trace, visualize and provide context for patterns of ecological change and land use over time focusing specifically on North Carolina wetlands. Read more about Ghost (Forest) Stories: Unearthing History and Climate Change (2024-2025) »


https://photolib.noaa.gov/Collections/NOAAs-Ark/Whales/emodule/722/eitem/30575

This team will use molecular biology, bioengineering and systems biology to enhance the understanding of whale behavior and genetics. Read more about Learning From Whales: Oxygen, Ecosystems and Human Health (2024-2025) »


Image: Shanghai, China, by Lei Han, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This project team aims to assesses the integration of nuclear heating into China’s regional heating systems, emphasizing market prospects, cost-effectiveness, environmental impacts and social risks. Read more about Policy and Economics of China's Nuclear Residential Heating (2024-2025) »


Image: NRC Commissioner David Wright at Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant, by Nuclear Regulatory Commission

This project team seeks to address the contested role of nuclear power in clean energy systems and in North Carolina’s electrical grid in particular. Read more about Reexamining Nuclear Power in the Carolinas and Beyond (2024-2025) »


Community Disaster Resilience Zones in North Carolina.

This project team will apply modern risk data, modeling and analytics to explore innovative new insurance and risk management models in North Carolina’s primarily rural climate-vulnerable communities. Read more about Risk Analytics and Innovation for Community Climate Adaptation (2024-2025) »


Image: South Luangwa National Park, Zambia, by Benoît Rivard, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This project will integrate existing satellite collars and elephant movement data with advances in technology, including drones and camera traps, to evaluate elephant movements and body condition in Kafue National Park, Zambia. Read more about Using Drones To Monitor the Health of Endangered Elephants (2024-2025) »


Energy & Environment Courses

Gateway Courses

EGR 95FS: Emerging Materials and Technologies for Energy Future

Fall 2023
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  »


ENERGY 178FS: Energy Policy for a Changing World

Fall 2023
Instructor: Brian Murray

This course establishes a broad introduction to contemporary energy topics related to power generation, delivery, energy conversion and efficiency. Read more about Energy Policy for a Changing World »


ENERGY 188FS: History of Energy Use and Power Generation

Fall 2023
Instructor: Tom Cinq-Mars

In this course, students will consider the development of different primary energy sources over time, the history of various energy conversion and storage technologies and the establishment of modern thermal sciences. Read more about History of Energy Use and Power Generation »


Other Undergraduate Courses

ENERGY 89S: Energy & Society

Spring 2024
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 2024
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: The Theory and Practice of Sustainability

Spring 2024
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 »


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

Spring 2024
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 »


ETHICS 288S: Ethical Dimensions of Environmental Policy

Spring 2024
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

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

Spring 2024
Instructor: Luana Lima, Scott Newell Starr

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 554: Rainforest Engineering

Spring 2024
Instructor: Martin Brooke, Stuart Pimm

This is an open-format, project-based class for graduate student interested in environment, engineering and design with a focus on rainforests and related environments. Read more about Rainforest Engineering »


ENVIRON 592: U.N. Climate Change Negotiation Practicum

Fall 2023
Instructor: Jackson Ewing, Gabriela Nagle Alverio, Ina Liao

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  558L: Remote Sensing for Environmental Analysis

Fall 2023
Instructor: Jennifer Swenson

The course spans current and emerging remote sensing applications for ecology and conservation, with in-depth treatment of satellite and drone apps in coastal biological and ecological research through client-based group research projects. Using current platforms and sensor technologies e.g. Read more about Remote Sensing for Environmental Analysis »