Venice, Italy

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

when 13 July 2015 - 25 July 2015
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 1800

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

The course duration is 2 weeks. Students will attend lectures and labs, 6 days per week and will participate in field trips in the Venice Lagoon and its surrounding.

Topics covered by the course include:
• 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

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

List of courses
- Global environmental change, global warming, changing oceans and sea level rise, Prof. Nicolas Cassar
- Extreme events in coastal areas: data analysis and modelling, Prof. Marco Marani
- The impact of sea level rise and climate change on global water resources, Prof. Mario Putti
- Coastal wetlands ecology, restoration and management, Brian Silliman
- Coastal environmental change processes: modelling and prediction, Prof. Andrea D'Alpaos
- Environmental monitoring of coastal morphology and water quality, Prof. Sonia Silvestri
- Sea level rise and coastal areas: economic assessment of policy strategies, Prof. Brian Murray
- Globalization, environment and sustainable development in coastal areas, Prof. Ignazio Musu
- Climate change, sea level rise and global health in coastal areas, Prof. William Pan

Course leader

Sonia Silvestri
Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke 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 point 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

3 EC
An official Duke University, Nicholas School Diploma will be issued at the end of the course.
Number of ECTS credits allocated: 3.

Fee info

EUR 1800: Tuition fees only
EUR 2750: All inclusive formula that includes tuition fees plus accommodation and lunch on weekdays


A limited number of scholarships may become available in the late Spring in order to partially support tuition and will be assigned on the basis of merit criteria.