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Facilities, Locations & Resources


The Nicholas School of the Environment is located in Grainger Hall at 9 Circuit Drive on Duke University’s West Campus, and linked by a walkway to additional space in the A wing of the Levine Science Research Center (LSRC), home of many of the Nicholas School’s research labs as well as Student Services.

A 70,000-square-foot, five-story glass-and-concrete platinum LEED-certified building, Grainger Hall incorporates state-of-the-art green features and technologies inside and out. The hall houses classrooms, an auditorium, private offices, open office space, computer labs, an outdoor courtyard, and an environmental art gallery, as well as conference rooms, shared workrooms, and common areas. Green features include solar panels, innovative climate control and water systems, a rooftop event space, and garden, windows that moderate light and heat, an organic orchard, and sustainably designed landscaping.

The divisions of Earth and Climate Sciences (ECS) and Environmental Sciences and Policy (ESP) are housed across Grainger Hall and the LSRC. ECS maintains state-of-the-art facilities for geochemical analysis and climate modeling studies. ESP hosts extensive research facilities focusing on environmental health.

Duke University Marine Laboratory is home to the third division of the Nicholas School, the Marine Science and Conservation division. Situated on Pivers Island, off the coast of Beaufort, North Carolina, the Marine Lab is Duke’s coastal campus.


Duke University is situated in Durham, a city of more than 285,000 inhabitants in the central Piedmont region of North Carolina. The Appalachian escarpment lies approximately one hundred miles to the west of Durham, and the coastal plain is but a short distance to the east. The Duke University Marine Laboratory is located 180 miles to the southeast of Durham, on Pivers Island, adjacent to the historic town of Beaufort, North Carolina. The Nicholas School is thus ideally situated near areas of ecological and topographic diversity that offer many opportunities for study as well as recreation.

Piedmont North Carolina is characterized by a rolling, forested topography interspersed with small farms and rural communities in addition to the state’s largest cities. The climax forests of the Piedmont are hardwoods; however, human disturbance has resulted in the establishment of many forests of native southern pines. To the west, the Appalachian Mountains contain magnificent hardwood forests, giving way to spruce-fir forests at higher elevations. The region hosts a large percentage of the rich biodiversity of the southeastern United States.

The coastal plain of North Carolina, well known for its agricultural production, is used extensively by many of the nation’s forest industries for plantations of native pines. Coastal wetlands and estuaries, now recognized as one of the nurseries of world fisheries, offer abundant and valuable natural resources. The barrier islands of North Carolina’s Outer Banks serve to protect these coastal waters. The rapidly increasing population and development in this region make proper management of its natural resources particularly important to the nation.

Because of the school’s central location near these regions of vital ecological importance and rapid human population growth, students are afforded the opportunity to study many current environmental problems in the field. Both the opportunity and the challenge exist to analyze these pressing problems and to develop sound approaches to their management.