Campus as Lab

Campus As Lab (CAL) Mission

Campus as Lab (CAL) is a Sustainable Duke program that seeks to develop the relationship between Duke University faculty and student research and its own campus. This partnership utilizes the campus as a living laboratory to study and solve the on-campus manifestations of global sustainability issues. These issues are constantly researched in traditional laboratory settings, but interacting with these same problems in a non-traditional laboratory setting offers unique possibilities. Through scientific research, academic learning, and existing campus experience, students are better able to understand complex, global issues and their effects on the campus’ sustainability. The CAL program encourages students to work towards new ideas that have the possibility to not only transform the Duke campus, but also the world.  

What are examples of CAL sites?

Duke University is home to a wide variety of buildings, ecosystems, and other spaces on campus that provide opportunities for students to apply what is learned in the classroom in the real world. Examples of these on-campus sites that are exemplary models of the Campus as Lab program ethos include the Duke Forest, Duke's Reclamation Pond, a wide variety of sustainable buildings on campus (e.g. Student Wellness Center and Environment Hall), the Duke Campus Farm, and many more. These sites are a representation of the CAL program’s goal to bridge on-campus issues and their solutions with the global issues they represent. The CAL program hopes that by tying world issues to a tangible on-campus site that students will be able to connect their course learnings and campus experiences to better understand world issues. A CAL-endorsed site serves as an excellent starting point to learn about global problems, to be inspired to complete a CAL project, or to even appreciate the Duke campus a little more.

Duke Forest photo
Photo of Duke Forest, which is Duke University's 7,000 acre learning laboratory.

CAL Projects

There are numerous research projects that are already using Duke University's campus as a living laboratory. Sustainable Duke seeks to summarize the breadth and depth of past, future, and on-going research in a project database developed by Sustainable Duke. This database will continue to grow over the coming years and will serve as a resource for students, staff, and faculty at Duke to learn about how others have engaged the campus. If you have been working on any project that uses campus to address environmental, economic, or social sustainability issues, please submit your project by visiting the Project Database section of this webpage. With the database, you will be able to provide a brief description of your project, upload your reports and/or data, and highlight the other students, staff, and faculty who have contributed to your project. 

If you have any questions, please contact Emily Bilcik, assistant director of CAL Program, via email at