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Ethics and Environmental Policy: Then and Now

Environmental policies often occur at too fast a pace and within too short a time to allow for deep exploration of the ethics underpinning the design and implementation of the policy. Through this project, we explore the ethical dimensions of past policy processes by engaging decision makers involved in those conversations with contemporary decision makers facing similar situations.

Through a series of audio recorded interviews and Duke University lectures, we will work with these present and former policy makers to establish a way to use what was learned about ethics from past decisions to help analyze impending decisions of significant importance. Ultimately, we aim to design structured engagement during natural "pauses" in the policy making process that will allow for deep-dives into the ethical dimensions of policies that are presently under formation.

Ethical Dimensions of Environmental Policy: Energy and Climate Change

Using case studies, this course introduces students to the ethical dimensions of decision-making in the design and implementation of environmental policy. In Spring 2018, the course will focus on one case study: the potential construction of a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant on Duke’s West Campus, which would be fueled by biogas from hog farms. Duke is considering this new way of providing energy to the University and Health System as part of Duke’s larger strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024. To understand how normative assumptions influence policies, students will conduct an ethical inquiry into Duke’s decision-making about its own energy consumption. Students will have the opportunity to conduct their own qualitative research and produce policy analysis for publication. Throughout the course, students will interact with stakeholders involved in the decision-making process about Duke’s energy future and participate in one or more skills-building workshops and/or field trips.