Campus as Lab at Duke University


Fall 2017 - Fall 2017


In 2015, Duke University invested $11.5 million into a large-scale sustainable stormwater management project on
Towerview Road: the Water Reclamation Pond. Not only was this project a financial investment--saving $400,000 for
the University per year--it was meant to be used as an educational resource for students. Unfortunately, students are
not utilizing this space for learning. In fact, a survey conducted found that of 131 undergraduate students, 92% of
said students are unaware of stormwater management projects on campus such as the Water Reclamation Pond, the
Medical Center Greenway, and the stream restoration project. This brief is meant to inform The University of current
awareness of these spaces and how best to facilitate educational engagement with these spaces.

The phrase “Campus As Lab” describes Duke’s hope of expanding physical campus projects into useful tools for
classroom instruction. The Duke Water Reclamation Pond, Medical Center Greenway, and stream restoration project
all have the potential to become “lab” spaces, which would serve to inform students and instructors of the benefits
of effective stormwater management practices. These three projects serve as case study sites for the information
provided in this brief.

Many universities have already started “Campus As Lab” initiatives to facilitate the use of physical spaces as
educational tools. Mark Hough, Duke’s University Landscape Architect and client for this project, hopes to build on
these established initiatives to connect the Water Reclamation pond, and other spaces like it, to undergraduate
curriculum at Duke. This brief seeks to inform Hough and other staff members of how best to promote awareness
and facilitate engagement with these spaces as educational resources on campus.

It would positively impact the curriculum and learning potential of Duke University if the institution could gain a
better understanding of how to utilize specific outdoor campus spaces as productive learning environments for
instructors and students.

Location: Reclamation Pond, Duke Medical Center Greenway



Allie Charlton, Libby Dotson, Dhara Patel, Joe Lee


Charlotte Clark, Tavey Capps


Facilities Management Department, Sustainable Duke

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