Headquartered in the heart of the Duke University campus, the Nicholas School of the Environment strives for a new paradigm, one that views and attempts to understand the earth and the environment—including humans—as an integrated whole. Addressing problems as well as identifying solutions, the Nicholas School's mission is to create knowledge and global leaders of consequence for a sustainable future.

To achieve this vision, the Nicholas School has assembled a unique and talented faculty of more than 150 world-class researchers and educators with expertise spanning forty-five core focal areas in the physical, life, and social sciences. Individually, Nicholas School faculty are leaders in their fields; collectively, they form a community of shared purpose and passion, each steeped and actively engaged in their respective disciplines but also committed to the multi- and interdisciplinary lines of inquiry and collaborations that are at the core of many environmental challenges.

We strive to fulfill our school’s mission by:

  • Creating knowledge through basic and applied multidisciplinary research designed to expand our understanding of the Earth and its environment;

  • Creating global leaders of consequence through:

    • an undergraduate academic program designed to spread understanding of the Earth and the environmental ethic to a new cadre of Duke graduates, and prepare them for careers or advanced studies in many in-demand fields;

    • a professional master’s program that combines the specificity of an MS and the practical nature of an MBA or MPP to train a diverse new breed of environmental professionals with in-demand skills needed to devise and implement effective environmental policies and practices in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors; and

    • a PhD program dedicated to adding to a new generation of world-class scientists, researchers, and educators in the environment;

  • Forging a sustainable future by strategically focusing our intellectual resources and capital to address the most challenging environmental issues confronting society on three primary fronts:

    • climate and energy;

    • terrestrial and marine ecosystems; and,

    • human health and the environment.

In addition, the following three themes cut across all of the above: governance; economy and policy; data and technology; and our discovery mission in Earth and environmental applied and basic science.

Environmental issues affect us all. We all need to be part of the solution. At the Nicholas School, we believe lasting environmental change depends on embracing and encouraging the rich diversity of talent, perspectives, and experiences brought to our field by faculty, staff, students, and alumni from all backgrounds.

The Nicholas School values its strong partnership with Duke’s Office of Institutional Equity and its support of the school’s efforts to create a community that recognizes and values the contributions and concerns of all its members, regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, physical capabilities, and other important characteristics of their identities. Through organizations such as DICE, BLS, Actionators, oStem, and others, the Nicholas School strives to foster a truly inclusive community committed to the mission of the school.

The Nicholas School acknowledges the indigenous people on whose land the Duke community works, studies, and lives. What is now Durham was originally the territory of several Native nations, including Tutelo and Saponi–speaking peoples. Many of their communities were displaced or killed through war, disease, and colonial expansion. Today, the Triangle is surrounded by contemporary Native nations, the descendants of Tutelo, Saponi, and other Indigenous peoples who survived early colonization. These nations include the Haliwa-Saponi, Sappony, and Occanechi Band of Saponi. North Carolina’s Research Triangle is also home to a thriving urban Native American community that represents Native nations from across the United States. Together, these Indigenous nations and communities contribute to North Carolina’s ranking as the state with the largest Native American population east of Oklahoma.

Honor Code

The Nicholas School of the Environment advocates the highest standard of professional ethics and academic integrity. Students and faculty have developed an honor code for the school that is distributed to all students prior to matriculation and then discussed and signed during orientation. The Nicholas School uses the Community Standard as its basis.