Creating an Intellectual Climate

November 30, 2009

This January, Duke will hold its inaugural Winter Forum, an annual three-day program aimed at increasing awareness of global issues among undergraduates. The forum, which grew out of the university's self assessment during the last accreditation process, was organized by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions with support from the provost's office. Dean of Undergraduate Education Steve Nowicki says "the idea was to create a focused event on campus around a topic of global significance." This year: making the green economy work.

The forum's codirector, Brian Murray M.S. '87, Ph.D. '92, director for economic analysis at the institute and a research professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment, says the main topic will be global energy production. Several faculty members will be attending the United Nations climate-change conference in Copenhagen less than a month before the program, the results of which will be used as starting points for discussion.

Along with codirector Tim Profeta, Murray has assembled a number of professors from Duke's schools and institutes to work with students on exercises that will mimic situations found in the public policy and business sectors. In one exercise, students will create practical, entrepreneurial proposals for alternative-energy solutions and then have those proposals evaluated by a panel of faculty and industry experts.

Seventy-five students have signed up for the forum and will be returning to campus early from winter break to attend. Next year's event will be led by the Duke Global Health Institute.