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Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability

The Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability ( accelerates solutions to critical energy and environmental challenges, advancing a more just, resilient, and sustainable world in which communities and nature thrive. The Nicholas Institute conducts actionable research and undertakes sustained engagement with policymakers, businesses, and communities—in addition to delivering transformative educational experiences to prepare future leaders.

The Nicholas Institute is one of Duke’s signature interdisciplinary institutes, initiatives, and centers—engaging with and connecting students, faculty, staff, and alumni across all Duke schools (including the Nicholas School) in addition to external partners and stakeholders.

The scientists, economists, lawyers, and policy experts at the Nicholas Institute work on a diverse range of topics, including climate and energy policy, ecosystem services, energy access, energy data analytics, environmental justice, extreme heat, nature-based solutions, oceans and coastal policy, sustainable infrastructure, transportation, water policy, and more.

The Nicholas Institute has played a significant role in the launch of the Duke Climate Commitment ( which unites the university's education, research, operations, and public service missions to address the climate crisis.

The Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability was created by the 2021 merger of two Duke units: the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions (founded in 2005) and the Duke University Energy Initiative (founded in 2011). The Nicholas Institute is located in Suite 101 of Gross Hall for Interdisciplinary Innovation at 140 Science Drive.

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Opportunities for Students

The Nicholas Institute is committed to delivering high-impact educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students across Duke, including those pursuing degrees at the Nicholas School. Nicholas Institute experts—many of whom have faculty appointments at Duke schools—teach a range of courses across campus.

The Nicholas Institute also delivers a robust slate of experiences and offering outside the classroom:

  • Opportunities to get involved with research and decision-maker engagement: The Nicholas Institute serves as the administrative home of Bass Connections in Energy & Environment (interdisciplinary student-faculty research teams focused on real-world challenges, typically during the school year) and Climate+ (interdisciplinary summer research teams at the intersection of climate and data science). In addition to taking part in these teams (which often include Nicholas Institute experts), students from across the university can partner with Nicholas Institute staff on research as student assistants. Graduate students (including doctoral and professional students) at the Nicholas School can engage with the Nicholas Institute's efforts via the Nicholas School's assistantship program.

  • Events featuring diverse experts and professionals: Each year, the Nicholas Institute hosts numerous educational events on energy and environmental topics. Many events feature opportunities to glean insights from and interact with professionals who are working in the energy and environment space or who are making relevant decisions in government, business, and civil society. Some events include networking components that bring together students, faculty, and staff as well as Duke alumni, local professionals, and students, faculty, and staff from other universities. Other events include significant experiential components—like the Nicholas Institute's Power Trips, which facilitate site visits to energy companies and facilities.

  • Support for student-led activities: The Nicholas Institute helps network the leaders of undergraduate and graduate student organizations across campus that focus on energy and environmental issues. The Nicholas Institute offers a limited amount of funding for student-led activities open to students from diverse degree programs. Nicholas Institute staff also provide advising and financial support for Energy Week at Duke, an annual student-led event series.

  • Career advising: The Nicholas Institute supports the University Career Center, and the Nicholas School Career & Professional Development Center in the advising of students interested in energy and sustainability careers.

Students interested in engaging with the Nicholas Institute are encouraged to sign up for the email list at