Duke University students construct a footbridge in Japo, Bolivia in 2022

Global Development Engineering Certificate

Learn problem-solving skills to make a world of difference

Global development engineers work in an emerging and exciting field.

They partner with marginalized or disadvantaged people to implement designed solutions to specified societal needs.

This field combines technical and problem-solving skills with ethical understanding and cultural competency.

Global development engineers partner with people around the world on projects that address issues such as economic empowerment, environmental quality and access to health care.  

Duke's Certificate in Global Development Engineering features an innovative curricular pathway that includes training in:

  • Technical subjects
  • Culture and language
  • Ethics
  • Public policy
  • Economics

In addition to coursework, those who pursue the certificate get real-world experience, implementing a designed solution either in the United States or abroad, and during a project-focused capstone course.

Certificate Requirements

Successful completion of seven (7) courses and one experiential component will lead to a Certificate in Global Development Engineering:

  • One (1) introductory course
  • Three (3) global competency courses
  • Two (2) Technical courses
  • One (1) capstone course
  • An experiential component

Important Note—'Double-Counting' Limited

In accordance with Duke policy, students may only “double count” two (2) courses for both this certificate and their major.

For CE and EnvE Students:  If you are counting CEE 315 (Engineering Sustainable Design and the Global Community) as an Upper Level Elective, then you will only be able to “count” one (1) of your required major classes for the certificate, and will need to take an additional technical course in CE/EnvE, or from outside the department.

For BME Students: If you are counting BME 462 (Design for the Developing World) as your required BME capstone, then you will only be able to “count” one (1) of your required major classes for the certificate and will need to take an additional technical course in BME, or another department, to fulfill the certificate requirements.

Course Details

Introductory Course (select one)
  • BME 290-02/GLHLTH 390-02: Medical Technologies and Global Women’s Health
  • CEE 160L: Introduction to Environmental Engineering and Science
  • EGR190: Engineering the Planet
  • GLHLTH 101: Fundamentals of Global Health
  • EOS/ENVIRON 330: Energy and the Environment
Global Competency (select three)

Select one (1) from Language & Culture

Must be a functional proficiency course, level 203 or higher, or a corresponding curricular competency course in another culture with an explicit focus or major goal being cultural competency, from one of the following Duke academic departments:

  • African and African American Studies
  • Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Cultural Anthropology (course specifically related to culture)
  • German Studies
  • Jewish Studies
  • Latin American Studies
  • Latino Studies in the Global South
  • Romance Studies
  • South Asian Studies
  • Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Select one (1) from Ethics

Examples include:

  • PUBPOL 330/GLHLTH 210 Global Health Ethics
  • GLHLTH 373S Global Health Service, Research, Ethics
  • GLHLTH 341 Ethics of Infectious Disease
  • PHIL 281/GLHLTH 241 Global Bioethics
  • PUBPOL 224S Doing Good: Anthropological Perspectives on Development
  • PUBPOL 372 Information, Policy and Ethics
  • PUBPOL 258S Science, Ethics and Society

Select one (1) from Policy OR Economics


Examples include:

  • GLHLTH 303 Global Health Systems & Policy
  • PUBPOL 190FS International Law & Global Health
  • PUBPOL 590 Comparative Health Care Systems
  • PUBPOL 207 Development and Africa
  • PUBPOL 212 Globalization and Public Policy
  • PUBPOL 222 International Political Economy
  • PUBPOL 288 International Trade
  • PUBPOL 289 Public Finance
  • PUBPOL 515S Assisting Development
  • PUBPOL 574 Economic Evaluation of Sustainable Development
  • PUBPOL 579S Collective Action, Environment and Development
  • PUBPOL 582: Global Environmental Health: Economics and Policy
  • PUBPOL 598 Economic Growth and Development Policy
  • ENV 212 US Environmental Policy
  • ENV 265 Environmental Law and Policy
  • ENV 550 Land Use Principles and Policy
  • ENV 577 Environmental Politics

Examples include:

  • ECON 248 Racial and Ethnic Economic Inequality: A Cross National Perspective
  • ECON 269A Australia and the Asia-Pacific Economies
  • ECON 303A Political Philosophy of Globalization
  • ECON 306 Economic History and Modernization of the Islamic Middle East
  • ECON 324A International Finance
  • ECON 326S Islam and the State: Political Economy of Governance in the Middle East
  • ECON 347 African Economic Development
  • ECON 355 International Trade
  • ECON 361 Prisoner's Dilemma and Distributive Justice
  • ECON 370 Global Capital Markets
  • ECON 376A Financial Markets in the Global Economy
  • ECON 379 Emerging Markets: Finance, Trade, Institutions and the World Economy
  • ECON 442 Development Economics: Theory, Evidence and Policy
  • ECON 455 International Finance
  • ENV 363/Econ 369 Environmental Economics and Policy
  • ENV 520 Resource and Environmental Economics I
  • ENV 531 Economic Analysis of Resources and Environmental Policies
Technical Tracks (select two courses in one track)


Examples include:

  • CEE 461L. Chemical Principles in Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 462L. Biological Principles in Environmental Engineering
  • CEE 463L. Water Resources
  • EOS 524 Water Quality and Public Health
  • EOS 525 Water Pollution
  • ENV 501 Environmental Toxicology
  • ENV/BIO 564 Biogeochemistry


Examples include:

  • ENRGYEGR 310. Introduction to Energy Generation, Delivery, Conversion, and Efficiency
  • *ENRGYEGR 490.01. Bioenergy
  • *ENRGYEGR 490.02 (ME 490.01). Energy for the Built Environment
  • *ENRGYEGR 490.03. Renewable Energy Technologies
  • *ENRGYEGR 490.04. Power Electronics
  • *ENRGYEGR 490.05. Modern Power Systems
  • ENVIRON 631. Energy Technology and the Impact on the Environment
  • ME 461. Energy Engineering and the Environment
  • ECE 496 Solar Cells
  • PHYSICS 137S. Energy in the 21st Century and Beyond

   *ENRGYEGR 490.xx. special topics courses are new, and will be assigned different, permanent courses numbers in future academic years.

Appropriate Technology

Examples include:

  • BME 562 Biology by Design
  • BME 563 Transport Process in HIV Transmission & Prevention
  • BME 567 Biosensors
  • BME 570L Introduction to Biomolecular Engineering
  • BME 571L Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering
  • BME 574 Modeling and Engineering Gene Circuits
  • BME 577 Drug Transport Analysis
  • BME 578 Tissue Engineering
  • CEE 422 Reinforced Concrete Design
  • CEE 423 Structural Steel Design
  • EGR 190 Engineering and Human Needs in the Developing World (Ghana)
Design and Implementation Capstone (select one)
  • CE315/PPS211/ENV356. Engineering Sustainable Design and the Global Community
  • EGR 424L. (or ENV 452) Energy and Environment Design (must have a developing world focus)
  • BME 462L Design for the Developing World
Experiential Component

During the experiential component, you implement a designed solution to an identified need. This can be accomplished during a DukeEngage experience, or by participating with student organizations such as Engineering World Health and Duke Engineers for International Development.

The component is typically a month-long experience in a setting, within the United States or internationally, where you team with a community partner to identify, design and implement your idea.

In advance of completing their experiential component, the student (or group of students) should email Dr. David Schaad, the faculty director of the certificate, a brief, one-page summary of the proposed experience that provides these five items: 

  1. Where the experience will take place?
  2. Who is the community partner?
  3. Who is the faculty mentor for the project?
  4. When will the project take place?
  5. A brief synopsis of the designed intervention

For Summer Experiences

If this is a summer experience, please submit this email by the beginning of Spring Break in the semester prior to when the summer experience is going to be conducted. The committee will meet to consider all submissions and will provide feedback to the students by April 10th about their proposal and if the project is approved for meeting the certificate requirements. If it is approved, a post-implementation report will be required following the completion of the experience demonstrating how the learning objectives were achieved, the partnership was enhanced, and student reflections on the experience.