Students who enroll in Let’s Talk About Climate Change! will have the opportunity to engage in robust and far-ranging discussions about climate change—and potential solutions to it—with 14 faculty scholars representing fields from energy policy to environmental justice and geology to global health.
The course will begin with an overview of how Earth’s climate has changed since the Industrial Revolution and what experts predict will happen over the next century. Each week after that, a different Climate Change Faculty Fellow will help lead an hour-long class discussion investigating climate change from a different perspective—from the role language plays in policy making to how social psychologists are working to give us smarter ways to calculate and reduce our carbon footprints. Students and faculty will continue their talk over a catered dinner and in small breakout groups after dinner.
Our goal is to expose students to thought-provoking possibilities about our path forward and help them explore how they can use their talents and voices to bring about positive change and help forge a more sustainable and equitable future for us all.
Dr. Emily Bernhardt and Dr. Norman Wirzba are the lead instructors for UNIV 102: Let’s Talk About Climate Change.
Climate Change Faculty Fellows
Representing a diversity of academic disciplines across Duke University, the following cohort of 12 Climate Change Faculty Fellows (CCFFs) will work together with lead instructors Emily Bernhardt and Norman Wirzba to shape the inaugural class of UNIV102.
Adriane Lentz-Smith, Associate Professor History, African & African-American Studies, and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, is interested in the Black Freedom Struggle in the modern United States–with a particular focus on their multi-faceted understandings of justice and harm, resilience and transcendence.
Alexander Glass, Senior Lecturer in Geology and Climate Earth and Climate Sciences at the Nicholas School of the Environment, is trained as a professional paleontologist (marine invertebrates) and geologist (sedimentology and stratigraphy), but most of his time and passion is focused on how to teach climate change and biological evolution within the culture of controversy that dominates US public dialogue surrounding these fields of science.
Deborah Reisinger, Associate Professor of the Practice of French and Director of the Language Outreach Initiative, is currently exploring how language, culture, and identity influence national policies and practices, from refugee resettlement to global health interventions.
Jennifer Lawson, Clinical Associate in Pediatrics at Duke General Pediatric and Adolescent Health and Faculty Associate at the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine, is a general pediatrician whose transdisciplinary orientation leads her to engage in activities related to the intersections of climate change and health, medical humanities, diversity, equity and belonging, and physician well-being.
Jie Liu, George B. Geller Professor of Chemistry, is interested in the development of catalytic processes for energy conversion and energy storage.
Kathleen Donohue, Professor of Biology, is interested in the genetic and epigenetic basis of plant adaptations to variable environments.
Nick Carnes, Creed C. Black Associate Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, is a political scientist in the Sanford School who focuses on domestic climate politics in the US with an emphasis on understanding how to create opportunities for bipartisan action on climate mitigation.
Priscilla Wald, R. Florence Brinkley Distinguished Professor of English, teaches and works on U.S. literature and culture, particularly literature of the late-18th to mid-20th centuries, contemporary narratives of science and medicine, science fiction literature and film, law and literature, and environmental studies. Her current work focuses on the intersections among the law, literature, science and medicine.
Rick Larrick, Hanes Corporation Foundation Professor, Professor of Management and Organizations, and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Fuqua School of Business, is a social psychologist who studies the psychology of decision making, including biases in decision making and ways to help people make better decisions. Two of his main areas of focus are on environmental decisions and on the wisdom of crowds.
Ryan Emanuel, Associate Professor of Hydrology, studies water and water-related aspects of environmental justice and Indigenous rights.
Saskia Cornes, Assistant Professor of the Practice at Franklin Humanities Institute and Program Director of Duke Campus Farm, works at the intersection of environmental humanities and sustainable agriculture, with interests in embodied knowledge, experiential pedagogies, food studies, and early modern literature.
Steven Sexton, Mark and Lynne Florian Assistant Professor of Public Policy, focuses his research on energy industry organization and energy policy, as well as environmental and transportation policy, particularly as they pertain to carbon emissions reductions.
Climate Change Communication Fellows
As the inaugural cohort of Climate Change Communication Fellows, these 14 graduate students will engage UNIV102 students in small group discussions about climate change.
Ayesha Gulrajani, Head Teaching Assistant and a Master of Engineering Management student in the Pratt School of Engineering, is passionate about being at the intersection of tech and business. She is an aspiring Product Manager, who aims at delivering products that can positively impact all of humankind.
Anna Whitaker, is a Master of Theological Studies student at the Duke Divinity School pursuing a certificate in Food, Faith, and Environmental Justice. She is interested in the pursuit of food security and sovereignty, sustainable food production and policy, and a theological ethic of eating.
Audrey Thellman is an ecosystem scientist interested in understanding how climate change is impacting freshwater. In her PhD, she is answering how river primary productivity in the Northeastern United States is responding to warmer winters and declining snowpacks.
Ciro Incoronato is a PhD candidate in Romance Studies. His interests span from Italian literature and philosophy to French Theory and environmental studies. His first book, published in Italian in 2016, explores the ethical consequences of biotechnology.
Cristina Carnemolla is a PhD candidate in Romance Studies, double track in Italian and Spanish. She works on 19th-century Italian, Spanish, and Latin American literature, and her academic interests range from post- and decolonial studies, to gender theory and ecocriticism applied to the analysis of Italian and Spanish naturalist and realist novels.
Dana McLachlin is a PhD student in Cultural Anthropology whose research focuses on gender, labor, and extraction in Bangladesh.
Elizabeth Apple is a second-year PhD student in the Department of English. Her research focuses on American literature of the 19th to mid-20th centuries. Her work is broadly concerned with the intersections between literature, religion, and science.
Jessica Doyle is a fourth-year PhD candidate in Romance Studies. Her research is closely connected to climate change, as she is focused on media coverage and social impacts of environmental crises in the Amazon and Andean regions of Latin America, particularly in relation to extractivism, infrastructure development, and colonial legacies.
Jonathan Behrens, PhD candidate in the University Program in Ecology (UPE), is an aspiring urban stream ecologist who synthesizes methods and theoretical frameworks from environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology, and ecosystem ecology to study the transport and ecological impact of contaminant mixtures persistent in urban systems.
Julia Plasynski, a Master of Environmental Management: Ecosystem Science and Conservation student, is interested in endangered species conservation, climate change mitigation, and bridging the gap between science experts and the public. Her focus is on human-wildlife coexistence – specifically elephants and humans in Gabon.
Kiersten Hasenour is a PhD candidate in the Sociology department. She is interested in social psychology, culture, and inequality, with a particular focus on how cultural narratives and understandings reproduce and perpetuate existing stereotypes and social structures.
Madison Hill is a Master of Fine Arts student in Experimental and Documentary Arts. She is a documentary filmmaker and photographer focusing on the environmental and social impacts of anthropogenic climate change.
Pratyarth Rao is a Master of Engineering Management student, and is curious about finding feasible and scalable ways to transition the world towards sustainable technology. He loves to talk about the carbon footprint of big tech and how to develop more sustainable and inclusive alternatives to the current methods used by the world.
Tony B. Nguyen, third year Master of Divinity student at the Duke Divinity School, studies the intersection of Christian biblical interpretation and sustainable agriculture. His interests include Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, poetry, agrarianism, Asian American identity, and Anglicanism.
|Norm Wirzba, Gilbert T. Rowe Distinguished Professor of Christian Theology and Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics & Emily Bernhardt, James B. Duke Professor of Biogeochemistry and Chair, Department of Biology
|An essay by Margaret Atwood “It’s Not Climate Change – It’s Everything Change”
A TED talk by Katharine Hayhoe “Let’s Talk About Climate Change”
|Priscilla Wald, R. Florence Brinkley Distinguished Professor of English
|Read Joshua Lederberg’s essay “Infectious History”
|Alex Glass, Senior Lecturer in Geology and Climate Earth and Climate Sciences at the Nicholas School of the Environment
|Students should watch the documentary Shored Up
|Adriane Lentz-Smith, Associate Professor of History, African & African-American Studies, and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies
|Excerpts from Andy Horowitz’s Katrina, A History 1915-2015 and from the documentary film When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts
|Public Talk by Naomi Oreskes, Historian of Science, Harvard UniversityReserved seats for UNIV 102 Students at 5pm Talk
Engagement opportunities for small group conversations in the afternoon
|Kathleen Donohue, Professor of Biology
|Excerpts from the Collection of Essays Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer
|Ryan Emanuel, Associate Professor of Hydrology, Environmental Justice and Indigenous Rights at the Nicholas School of the Environment
|Way Beyond the Lifeboat: An Indigenous Allegory of Climate Justice by Kyle White
|Deb Reisinger, Associate Professor of the Practice of French and Director of the Language Outreach Initiative
|Watch the documentary Human Flow by Ai Weiwei and read the Groundswell report summary here
|Jennifer Lawson, Clinical Associate in Pediatrics at Duke General Pediatric and Adolescent Health and Faculty Associate at the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine
|“When ANT meets SPIDER: Social theory for arthropods”, pp. 209-215 in Tim Ingold’s book Material Agency and excerpts from the book Planetary Health: Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves
|Steven Sexton, Mark and Lynne Florian Assistant Professor of Public Policy
|Excerpts from the Pope’s Encyclical Letter Laudato Si of the Holy Father Francis On Care for our Common Home and a review of the encyclical, “The Pope & the Market” by economist William D. Nordhaus
|Saskia Cornes, Assistant Professor of the Practice at Franklin Humanities Institute and Program Director of Duke Campus Farm
|Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
|Rick Larrick, Hanes Corporation Foundation Professor, Professor of Management and Organizations, and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Fuqua School of Business
|Read this short essay “Why Climate-friendly menus matter” by Jennifer Molidor. Your assignment is to make the menu from one of your favorite places to eat on campus into a climate friendly menu.
|Nick Carnes, Creed C. Black Associate Professor of Public Policy and Political Science
|Your assignment is to listen to (not argue with) a Climate Change skeptic, either one you already know over Thanksgiving Break OR one you find online. They must be amateur skeptics (not professional pundits)
|Jie Liu, George B. Geller Professor of Chemistry
|Listent to this podcast from Marketplace’s Molly Wood “If batteries are the future, how can we make them better”
“UNIV102 Presents” Signature Event
UNIV102 hosted one signature event during the 2022-2023 academic year. This event was complementary to the course, free of charge, and open to the general public. No Duke affiliation required.
Climate Change and the Promise of Progress with Dr. Naomi Oreskes
Featuring Dr. Naomi Oreskes, an internationally renowned geologist, science historian, and author of both scholarly and popular books and articles on the history of earth and environmental science.
Her 2004 essay “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” – the first peer-reviewed paper to document the scientific consensus on this crucial issue – has been cited more than 2,500 times and was featured in the Academy-Award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth. Her 2010 book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco to Global Warming, co-authored with Erik M. Conway, was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, won the Watson-Davis Prize from the History of Science Society, and has been translated int