Why I Chose Environmental Sciences and Policy

First day of school picture with my brother, Pratt’17.

Ever since I called my mom less than two months into my first semester at Duke to tell her I was thinking about majoring in environmental sciences and policy, I have not looked back. I declared my major almost as soon as allowed and embraced Nic School courses even before that. I am still so happy with the decision I made that day.

My path to the A.B. in Environmental Sciences and Policy started a very long time ago. Since middle school, I’ve engaged in in-depth environmental and earth science topics through my work with Science Olympiad. During high school, I found myself intrigued by food issues. I read Kelly Brownell’s book, Food Fight, and he was then the dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy. I thought that because his main focus was food policy, that may have trickled down into the undergraduate experience and I, too, could study food policy. I decided to apply to Duke as a public policy major (or as many students call it “pub pol”).

On my first day of classes at Duke, I had EOS 101 – Dynamic Earth with Emily Klein. I loved how she taught and engaged me on subjects I’d looked at prior to the class. From then, I knew I couldn’t leave science behind. Then, on my second day of classes, I was steered to the wrong building and missed a 3-hour public policy first-year seminar (it was fully my fault). I was so scared and, upon seeing the syllabus that didn’t peak my interest, I decided to drop the class! Out of those experiences, I decided that I no longer would major in pub pol.

I was searching for a few, key necessities in a major: excellent professors, a combination of science and humanities within one major, and the ability to choose my own path and take an individualized course load. I most certainly found that in Environmental Sciences and Policy.

Since starting at Duke, I have taken courses ranging from climate change and environmental impacts of food to big cat conservation and groundwater. Every class has taught me new knowledge and valuable skills.

Beyond just the ability to dive into topics of my choosing, this major allows me to take many classes outside the major. While I love my environmental courses, my Duke experience would not be the same without these. I learned about the chemistry of cooking and the history of the Beatles, to name a few.

In addition to my major, I have 2 minors: Earth and Ocean Sciences (EOS) and education. Also in the Nic School, EOS courses often have a lot in common with environmental ones. Geology is a huge interest of mine and it has been such a joy to continue that while also reinforcing parts of my major. Education has let me learn about other pressing issues in the country and the world while engaging with the Durham community.

I absolutely love my course of study. My professors have been incredible and I can’t wait to see what else I get to learn at Duke!

DukeImmerse class photo by Dean Rhoades, John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute