Climate and Sustainability Summer Institute

I really enjoyed the variety of topics, the lecturers, and the in-class discussions and activities. Each guest lecturer did an excellent job with their respective topics. I liked being able to hear the perspectives of my classmates on the topics and how each topic relates to their work.

– 2023 Program Participant

As the effects of climate change are felt across the globe, the time is now for enacting sustainable, climate-smart policies and solutions. This course is designed for motivated, early-to mid-career professionals in careers related to policy who are interested in building a stronger foundation of knowledge in climate and sustainability. Through interaction with trusted Duke faculty, researchers, and leaders in climate science and policy solutions, participants will develop a robust professional toolkit and build a deeper understanding of climate and sustainability issues across industries and issue areas. The program will also offer participants a valuable cohort experience through peer-to-peer learning and a long-term professional network with opportunities to collaborate and convene post-program completion.

Why Choose This Summer Institute?

  • The program is led by world-renowned Duke instructors and offers interactive learning modules on a selection of climate and sustainability topics tailored toward policy-oriented professionals.
  • After attending all six evening sessions and completing all course assignments, participants will earn a Duke University-issued digital badge signifying their course completion.  
  • The program will take place in person at the Duke in DC office in Washington, DC, providing a unique opportunity to build relevant, long-term professional connections with classmates and the broader Duke community in DC.
  • The course will conclude with a rooftop reception at the Duke in DC office, bringing together learners with Duke faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as fellow DC professionals working at the nexus of climate, sustainability and policy.

Curriculum Outline

Note: Participants will be asked to complete on-line activities, such as pre-readings, and other assignments during the duration of the course to supplement the on-site learning experience.

This course will be divided into six sessions over three weeks. Course topics and key questions include the following:

Session 1: History of climate policy in the US

  • What is the Clean Air Act? How has it been implemented through the states?
  • What is the Montreal Protocol, and why was it successful? What lessons can be learned from the Montreal Protocol and applied to future climate and environmental negotiations?
  • What did the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan do?
  • What is the Conference of the Parties (COP) process, and what is the US’s role in COP?
  • What is the Paris Climate Agreement, and what did the US pledge as part of this agreement? How is the US currently measuring up to its Paris commitments?
  • What is the Inflation Reduction Act, and how does it relate to the US’s Paris commitments?
  • How have these US climate policies been agreed upon and implemented at the federal, state, local and international levels?

Session 2: The economics of sustainable climate solutions

  • How do carbon markets work, including cap-and-trade and offsets?
  • What are carbon taxes, and how are they implemented? What are the tradeoffs associated with carbon taxes?
  • How can energy markets be leveraged to promote a green energy transition?
  • What are the key economic implications of the Inflation Reduction Act?
  • How can the Inflation Reduction act facilitate clean energy deployment?

Sessions 3 and 4: Building resiliency to the human impacts of climate change

  • How does climate change impact food supplies (e.g., agricultural and fisheries impacts)?
  • How does climate change impact human health (e.g., heat, air pollution, disasters, vector-borne diseases)
  • What is climate-related migration? Where is it occurring? Where is it predicted to continue occurring? How does it exacerbate, and how is it exacerbated by, other geopolitical issues?
  • What are the impacts of climate change on the built environment and infrastructure (e.g., sea level rise and managed retreat)?
  • What is climate justice? How have historical social and political practices in the United States created and exacerbated disproportionate climate burden on marginalized groups? How is the Justice 40 Initiative being implemented to address issues of equity in climate solutions?
  • What is the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and how does its implementation relate to climate change

    Note: These topics will be spread over two sessions to provide for additional time for discussion and interactivity.

Session 5: Role of policy and finance in R&D and tech innovation

  • How does ESG investing relate to the green tech innovation?
  • What are the opportunities for financing climate-smart solutions?
  • How do laws and policies such as the CHIPS and Science Act support green tech innovations?
  • Why are energy efficiency, decarbonization and carbon sequestration important technologies to accelerate from lab to market? What are the bottlenecks in moving these technologies from lab to market, and how can policy and finance alleviate these bottlenecks?

Session 6: Expert discussion panel

  • Hear from a panel of Duke University alumni working in the public and private sectors in climate- and sustainability-related policy work, followed by a rooftop reception for networking with Duke faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants with at least a basic academic or professional experiences in public policy, looking to deepen their knowledge of climate change and sustainability topics as they relate to public policy in the United states.
  • Applicants with previous professional experience in U.S. climate change policy is not required, but learners who are already engaged in climate policy work and who want to deepen and expand their knowledge are welcome to apply.
  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Have a laptop for use in class.
  • Possess word processing and internet skills as supplement online work may be required.
  • Be fluent in the English language (including reading and writing).
  • Be computer literate, have reliable internet access and a valid email account (Please note personal email accounts are preferred as they are less likely to be blocked by firewalls and spam filters).
  • Meet the computer technical requirements specifications as listed on this site for on-line supplemental course work in support of classroom instruction.
  • Able to attend “in person” at the Duke in DC office in Washington, D.C. for the duration of the course.

Completion Requirements

  • To earn a digital badge learners must:
    • Attend all class meetings
    • Complete all pre, in-session, and post-session assignments. All assignments must be turned in by one week after the final meeting session with clear demonstration of core competencies.

Technical Requirements

  1. A computer with a current operating system
    • Mac OS X with MacOS 10.6.8 /(Snow Leopard) or later
    • Windows 11
    •  Windows 8 or 8.1
    • Windows 7
  2.  A current Internet browser
    • Windows: IE11+, Firefox, Chrome
    • Mac: Safari5+, Firefox, Chrome
  3.  Reliable internet access
  4. Use of personal email as opposed to a business email is required to ensure class communications can be received and access to material via external links can occur without security issues.

Individuals interested in attending the Climate and Sustainability Summer Institute must submit an application, during the application period in order to be considered for admission. Applications can only be submitted via the online application that is available on this website. Applications will be reviewed on an rolling basis and those accepted will be notified as to “next steps” to register.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early!

Prior to Applying:

Application Process

  1. Begin Application: The green 'Apply' button in the right-hand column takes you to the required electronic application. If you are a new user, you will be guided to create a profile.
  2. Complete application in full.
  3. Upload the following supplemental documents:
    • Résumé
    • Detailed “Statement of Interest” (max 250 words)
  4.  Submit the online application and pay the $10 non-refundable application fee. The individual will then receive an email with username and password.
  5. Completed applications are reviewed on a rolling basis to determine approval, and individuals are notified of their admission status with next steps provided in how to register for the course. Please note that submission of an application and payment of the application fee is not a guarantee of admission to the program.
  6. Register for the course and pay the fill tuition of $2,549. Approved applicants may officially register and pay for for the course between January 25 and June 3.

Admission to the program is discretionary and space is limited. Participants must be at least 18 years of age and meet minimum suitability standards for admission. Admitted participants are not matriculated Duke University students, therefore university student privileges do not apply.

Important Dates

Monday, January 22, 2024 - Application period opens
Monday, May 24, 2024 - Application period closes
Thursday, January 25, 2024 - Registration opens: Admitted applicants can register and pay tuition.
Monday, June, 2024 - Registration closes. Last day admitted applicants can register/pay tuition (unless course fills prior- whichever occurs first).

Tuesday, July 8, 2024 - Course start date


The registration period for approved applicants opens on January 25, 2024 and closes on June 3, 2024. Admitted participants wishing to register must simultaneously enroll in the course and pay tuition in full, by the close of the registration period.

Duke Continuing Studies reserves the exclusive right, at its sole and absolute discretion, to withhold registration or require withdrawal from the program of an applicant or enrolled participant. Admitted participants are registered on a first-come, first-served basis.


July 9, 2024, 6:00-8:30 P.M.

July 11, 2024, 6:00-8:30 P.M.

July 16, 2024, 6:00-8:30 P.M.

July 18, 2024, 6:00-8:30 P.M.

July 23, 2024, 6:00-8:30 P.M.

July 25, 2024, 6:00-8:30 P.M.

At the conclusion of the final session, all learners will be invited upstairs to a reception on the Duke in DC rooftop terrace.

Betsy Albright




Elizabeth A. Albright 

Dan and Bunny Gabel Associate Professor of the Practice of Environmental Ethics and Sustainable Environmental Management, Nicholas School of the Environment





Brian Murry




Brian Murray 

Research Professor, Nicholas School of the Environment

Director, Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability




Sara Oliver





Sara Oliver

Director, Climate and Sustainability Engineering Master’s Program, Pratt School of Engineering





Ashley Ward




Ashley Ward

Director, Heat Policy Innovation Hub, Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability

Director, Climate and Sustainability Engineering Master’s Program, Pratt School of Engineering


Tim Profeta headshot






Tim Profeta
Senior Fellow, Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability

Associate Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy 

How much time is expected in class? Independent work?

Learners will be expected to participate in all 6 classes, spanning 2.5 hours each, with a break during each evening class. Additionally, learners can expect an average of 1-2 hours of reading/prep for each session and an additional 1-2 hours of assignments each week.

What experience or expertise do I need to apply for this program?

Learners should come to the program with at least basic academic or professional experiences in public policy. No prior experience working with issues of climate and sustainability is necessary to apply.

Who designed this course and curriculum?

All course material for learners is designed by Duke faculty and lecturers, with support from Learning Innovation and Lifelong Education (LILE), Duke in DC, the Duke Office of Climate and Sustainability, and the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability.

Who will be teaching this course?

Duke University faculty and lecturers. We anticipate there will be a TA from one of Duke’s Graduate and Professional programs present at all sessions.

Is this program offered in a virtual format?

No. In-person attendance is required as part of building a valuable cohort.

What skills will I build through this program?

Fluency and understanding of climate and sustainability policy issues from various academic and professional disciplines.

What does climate and sustainability fluency mean?

Climate- and sustainability-fluent means understanding anthropogenic climate change and its origins, and being well-equipped to address it by innovating and implementing creative, scientifically informed, just and responsible solutions.

What is this program’s “cohort model” and how will it be executed?

The program requires in-person attendance to foster a professional network that will be of value to learners beyond the duration of the course. The program will provide opportunities to engage with various Duke alumni and experts throughout the program duration.

What type of certificate will I receive from Duke after completing this program?

Learners will earn a digital Badge from Duke University. 

Tuition : $2,549

Upon being notified of “approval” to participate in the program, registration is available until the deadline of May 20 (or until the class fills whichever occurs first). Tuition is due in full at time of “registration”.  

Those approved to participate in the course, and are affiliated with the following criteria, can receive a single $150 discount which will appear during the online “registration” process and must be “selected” at that time to apply toward the tuition during checkout.

  • Individuals employed in a Nonprofit organization.
  • Individuals employed in government.
  • Current students with a focus on climate policies.
  • Duke University Alumnus.
  • Three (3) or more from same organization (validated by entering a pre-assigned code).
  • Referral from a previous course graduate (validated by entering a pre-assigned code).

Funding Sources

Duke Continuing Studies courses, and those offered on this website on behalf of Duke “schools”, are non-credit. Therefore, no loans can be construed to imply any degree-seeking status for participants enrolling in courses offered through this site.

Duke Continuing Studies (DCS) will not certify (approve) loan amounts greater than the amount of the tuition regardless of the amount approved by the lending agency. DCS reserves the right to reject any loan which exceeds the tuition amount. DCS will not be responsible for refunding monies in excess of the tuition. Participants needing to secure loan funding for books or other items in relation to the program are responsible for making separate loan arrangements with the funding agency. No loan funds will be refunded to the participant.

Should a participant choose to borrow less than the tuition amount, the balance must be paid prior to the close of the registration period.

Funding Sources

Our Professional Certificate programs are non-credit (not degree applicable); therefore, they are NOT eligible for federal education loans. DO NOT SUBMIT FAFSA FORMS for these programs.

Other Funding Sources

The funding options listed below may not be applicable to all programs at this time. Please contact the organization offering the funding to see if you qualify and if the funds can be used for the program in which you are interested.

Sallie Mae Smart Option Loan

To apply for this private student loan, visit Sallie Mae’s website, and click the I’m ready to apply button. The following application should populate with the pertinent information for Duke Continuing Studies.

  • Under Loan Needs, select Student and then Undergraduate degree.
  • Select Career training school.
  • Select North Carolina from the drop down menu.
  • Under name of school begin typing DUKE PROFESSIONAL, then select DUKE PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATES, DURHAM, NC, 00292099 when it populates.
  • Click Continue.
  • Next, You've confirmed that you want a Smart Option Student Loan for DUKE PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATES will appear.
  • Click Continue.
  • Fill out Basic Information.
  • Fill out Permanent Address section.
  • Fill out School Information.
    • DUKE PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATES, DURHAM, NC, 00292099 should already have populated for the school.
    • Select Certificate for Degree/Certificate of Study.
    • Select your Specialty or select Other if it is not shown in the options.
    • Select Half Time for Enrollment Status.
    • Select Certificate/Continuing Ed for Grade Level.
    • Enter your Loan period begins and loan period end dates.
    • Enter your Anticipated Graduation / Completion.
    • Enter loan amount. NOTE: This may not exceed the cost of tuition.
    • Estimated financial assistance should be $0.00.
    • Under Loan request, click Use calculated need.
    • Do not check any box in typical school expenses.
  • Follow the remaining loan application prompts.
Wells Fargo Graduate Loan

Please note that Wells Fargo is no longer accepting new applications for their private student loans. However, students with an outstanding balance on a Wells Fargo private student loan may be eligible to be borrowers on a new private loan. See here for details.

Duke Hospital Employees

Duke University Hospital employees may be eligible for support from the Employee Development Initiative (EDI), which helps employees pay for short-term career-related programs, workshops, and seminars. For more information, visit the Employee Development Initiative site or call Duke Hospital Human Resources at (919) 668-2170.


AmeriCorps Education Awards are available only for AmeriCorps volunteers and can be used for educational expenses for non-degree courses, such as Continuing Education courses offered by qualified schools. For more information on qualified schools and programs, contact the National Service Trust at 1-800-942-2677, or visit the FAQ page of the AmeriCorps website.

Wire Transfers

Contact our registration office at for details on how to send wire transfers. Very specific instructions must be followed in order for our office to receive a successful transfer.

Refund Policy

To receive a refund minus a $150 processing fee, we must receive your written cancellation request at least two weeks before the course begins. You will be refunded in the manner in which paid.

Include your name, address, phone number, and course to be dropped. You may inform us by:

Email (preferred): 
Mail: Registration – Climate and Sustainability Summer Institute 
Duke Continuing Studies 
Box 90700 Durham, NC 27708-0700

Bad Checks

If a check is returned for insufficient funds, we will charge a returned check fee of $35. Checks will not be resubmitted. The replacement payment must include the additional $35 and be in the form of cash, money order, or credit card.

Course is Filled / Waiting List

If a course is already filled, a waiting list is usually available instead. If you are interested in placing your name on the waiting list, follow the checkout instructions to do so. If a space becomes available, a registration staff member will contact you and ask if you are still interested. If you are interested, registration staff can assist you.

If We Cancel a Course

Sometimes we have to cancel a course that does not meet minimum enrollment, or due to unforeseen events. If that happens, you will receive a full or pro-rated refund. Duke Continuing Studies reserves the right to substitute instructors or change the day a course meets.

Tax Deductions

Course fees and expenses are sometimes tax deductible. Please consult an accountant concerning this matter. Non-credit programs at Duke Continuing Studies do not generate 1098-T forms, in accordance with the following IRS guideline:

  • Instructions for Forms 1098-E and 1098-T published by the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, states “You do not have to file Form 1098-T or furnish a statement for: Courses for which no academic credit is offered, even if the student is otherwise enrolled in a degree program…”