Duke University’s U.N. Climate Change Negotiations Practicum is a hands-on course that explores international climate change negotiations and climate policy under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Now in its ninth year, the Bass Connections-affiliated course provides students with an opportunity to develop a comprehensive understanding of the issues at the heart of global climate change — from adaptation and mitigation to the political dynamics of the UNFCCC negotiations process. Students engage in independent coursework, classroom discussions, and guest lectures throughout the course of the semester, all in preparation for the annual U.N. climate change negotiations.
Throughout the course of the semester, students will get an in-depth look at the UNFCCC and the key topics affecting climate negotiations. Depending on accreditation availability, students will most likely have the opportunity to attend this year’s negotiations, which will be held in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018. As part of their coursework leading up to the negotiations, students will also support an NGO or country delegation. This unique opportunity provides undergraduate and graduate students with the chance to experience climate negotiations first-hand, gaining deep climate change policy expertise and valuable networking connections.
Over the years, Practicum participants have attended COP23 in Bonn, Germany; COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco; COP21 in Paris, France; COP20 in Lima, Peru; COP19 in Warsaw, Poland; COP18 in Doha, Qatar; COP17 in Durban, South Africa; and COP16 in Cancún, Mexico. Students have worked with country delegations (such as Peru, Palau, Bangladesh, Mexico, and the Philippines) and NGOs (such as NRDC, World Resources Institute, Climate Analytics, Sierra Club, Islands First, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)).
Participation in this year’s Practicum is open to graduate and upper-level undergraduate students at Duke University. The faculty sponsors for the course are Professors Jonathan Wiener (Duke Law) and Billy Pizer (Sanford School of Public Policy), and course leaders are graduate students Tasfia Nayem and Galen Hiltbrand.