Italy, Venice

Environmental Management in a Changing World: Coping with Sea Level Rise

when 14 July 2014 - 27 July 2014
duration 2 weeks
credits 6 ECTS
fee EUR 2000

The Nicholas School of the Environment (Duke University) and Venice International University offer a Summer Program that provides training in key topics related to the impact of sea level rise on coastal areas and cities, and about adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Lectures will be led by world-class professors and researchers from the Nicholas School of the Environment, (Duke University - US) and Venice International University.

• Causes and consequences of global environmental change
• Modelling and prediction of environmental changes in coastal areas
• Social, economic and political impacts of sea level rise
• Environmental monitoring and management of coastal morphology and water quality
• The resilience of coastal human-natural systems
• Sustainable development along the coast: strategic retreat or coastal protection/conservation?
• Global health and climate change: future scenarios in coastal areas

Course organization:
The course duration is 2 weeks. Students will attend 4 lectures or labs per day, 5 days per week and will participate in 2 field trips (on Saturdays) in the Venice Lagoon and its surrounding.

Course leader

Dr. Sonia Silvestri, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment and Venice International University

Target group

Undergraduate and graduate students from any university and any discipline with an interest in environmental issues, and able to read and write fluently in English. Applicants familiar with these subjects and already working in private companies or public administrations are welcome.

Course aim

What will be the impact of sea level rise on the world's coastal areas and coastal cities? What are the social and economical consequences? What is the forecasted impact on the population health? Should we plan for a "sustainable development" or a "strategic retreat"? And if a strategic retreat is chosen what are the implications for our cultural heritage and legacy? What monitoring and management tools are currently available or should be developed in the near future?

The course aims to give students a broad perspective on the impact of sea level rise upon coastal areas from the social, economical and environmental points of view. Adaptation and mitigation strategies will be analyzed and students will be involved in discussions on critical management issues, developing their own critiquing concepts in a multidisciplinary framework. Participants will learn, in class and in the lab, the use of operational tools for coastal zone monitoring and management, and will participate in four field campaigns aimed at exploring the most up-to-date techniques for coastal defense and protection. The Venice Lagoon will be used as a "laboratory", the ideal setup to study the intertwined dynamics of human and natural systems. The Venice Lagoon is a diverse ecosystem providing invaluable services, which has been deeply transformed over the long history of the Venetian State and, in more recent years, by extremely impacting engineering works. The area also has a rich history with people whose families have resided in the city for generations and have strong attachments to the area. Hence, it is an exceptionally well-documented case of the coexistence of the natural and the built environments, of the tension between sustainable and unsustainable uses of natural resources, and the potential for vigorous political controversy over possible adaptation strategies. The MOSE system, the systems of gates currently being constructed to protect the city of Venice from extreme high tides, is just an example of the important infrastructures that the students will explore.

Credits info

An official Duke University, Nicholas School Diploma will be issued at the end of the course.

Students who wish to register the course in ECTS will be required to do produce a written project after the two week program.

Fee info

EUR 2000: Fees for tuition only are €2,000.

EUR 2900: Fees for tuition + accommodation package are €2900.

The accommodation package includes 15 nights accommodation in shared rooms in dorm-style apartments in Venice + lunch in cafeteria on campus Monday-Friday.


Merit scholarships will be available. The Selection Committee will determine who the recipients of scholarships are once applications have closed.