Duke Sustainability Certificate Pathways

Graphic of Sustainability Certificate Pathway. The Certificate pathway involves a Gateway courses, followed by two electives, two extracurricular experiences, and a capstone course.


To earn the Sustainability Engagement Certificate, you must take four courses, complete two experiences, and create a public-facing ePortfolio. Your choices are guided by a thematic emphasis that weaves throughout your experiences and elective courses.

Below are some example pathways to help you think through your certificate design process.

Certificate Requirements

To complete the certificate, you will need to complete the following four courses in the following sequence.

  1. Gateway
  2. Elective 1
  3. Elective 2
  4. Capstone

Both the Gateway and Capstone courses are required. The Gateway course, The Theory and Practice of Sustainability (ENVIRON 245), is typically offered during the fall semester. You must take the Gateway course prior to both electives and the capstone.

Electives are an opportunity for you to further explore your interests and your chosen theme. Elective courses must engage with at least two of the three pillars of sustainability: Environment (E), Society (S), and Economics (Ec). Taken together, the electives must engage with all three pillars of sustainability. At least one elective must originate outside of the Nicholas School of the Environment. 

You may choose from this electives list or petition your thematic advisor to include another course.

In place of an elective course, you may choose to particiapte in a Bass Connections project. Examples of past Bass Connection projects include:

The Capstone (SUSTAIN) is a culminating seminar with a group project to integrate the academic and experiential components of the Certificate and is offered during the spring semester. The Capstone must be taken after all other courses are completed. However, you may complete one experience concurrently with the course.

You must also complete two immerive co-curricular experiences to earn the Sustainability Engagement Certificate. One experience must exceed 300 hours and the other experience must exceed 150 hours. These experiences are an opportunity for you to gain hands-on experience related to the thematic emphasis you have chosen for your certificate. 

Experiences are completed at any time during the certificate (either during the academic year or summer) and one experience may be completed at the same time as the Capstone. You may also count one experience prior to taking the Gateway course.

Each experience must deeply engage with at least two of the three pillars of sustainability; combined, both experiences must engage with all three pillars of sustainability.

Some examples of experiences include the following:

Read about current students in the Sustainability Engagement Certificate and their experiences.

The ePortfolio is a creative space to showcase what you've done througout your Sustainability Engagement Certificate experience. All components of the certificate will be represented in your ePortfolio, namely artifacts and reflections from your courses and experiences.

All ePortfolios must be created in PebblePad, Duke's ePortfolio tool, and students will receive training and support in how to use PebblePad. Your personal ePortfolio will be periodically assessed and must meet expectations in order to receive the certificate. Your ePortfolio will also be public-facing and accessible to prospective employers.