Social Media For Environmental Communications

In the last decade, Social Media platforms have become powerful, central tools for the dissemination and discussion of news, engagement and coordination of stakeholders, and rapid deployment of communications campaigns. The power of social media also presents new challenges to the effective and accurate dissemination of knowledge. This online class will dig deep into the fundamentals of using social media for environmental communications, a critical assessment of the available tools, and how to design effective communications campaigns and assess their results.

October 17 – December 9, 2022

Registration Closed!

2022 Tuition Rates

  • Early Bird Registration (on or before October 2, 2022)  – $1,000
  • Standard Registration (on or after October 3, 2022)– $1,075
  • Duke University Alumni Registration Rate – $900

A limited number of discounts are available for eligible registrants. For eligibility and application requirements, please see our Application page HERE

Program Description

Instructor Andrew Thaler

Instructor Andrew Thaler

This course is seven weeks in length and is taught in an entirely online, distance learning format, with both asynchronous (discussion boards, peer review, readings, and written assignments) and synchronous portions (One-hour web conferences once per week). No campus visits are required. Please note: Course does not offer Duke academic credit – All Certificate courses are non-credit professional development offerings.

Meeting Time

*Note: there will be no live session the week of Nov 21st

Weekly webinars for this course will meet: TBD

Tech Check: TBD

First Session with Instructor: TBD

A different theme within the topic of social media will be addressed each week. Examples include:

Week 1 (Oct 17-21): Introduction to Social Media

Week 2 (Oct 24-28): Demography of Networks and Network Theory

Week 3 (Oct 31-Nov 4): Building an Audience and Growing a Brand

Week 4 (Nov 7-11): Designing and Implementing a Communications Campaign

Week 5 (Nov 14-18): Big Listening and Advanced Metrics

Week 6 (Nov 28-Dec 2): Crisis Management and Critical Response

Week 7 (Dec 5-9): Student Presentations

Course Facilitators

Course Details

This course will require 40 hours over the 7-week class period. Time will include, but is not limited to:

  • Each week class will meet for a web conference session where students and instructor will address the week’s theme and materials.
    Please note: Meeting times will depend on registrant availability, which will be elicited via email to registrants.
  • Discussion via online conferencing tools. Participation will be encouraged through the posing of various questions based on readings, previous discussion, and future directions of the class. In addition to exploring general course topics, web discussion tools will also allow students to work through issues related to their campaign – exploring opportunities and selecting the correct strategies with help from others in the class and instructor’s guidance.
  • Reading of assigned materials.
  • Students will become competent in the basic features and functions of popular social media tools.
  • Students will understand the advantages and limitations of these tools and be able to choose the most appropriate ones for their programs.
  • Students will become comfortable communicating through various social media tools, incorporating these tools into a larger communication plan, and assessing their effectiveness.
  • Creation of, and response to, final project actually designing a social media campaign.

Please note: While specific components of outlined class structure may change, it will be expected that students commit to 40 hours over the 7-week class period. 

Beginning in the second week of class, students will be expected to make multiple daily posts to various social media services. As such, this class is likely not appropriate for students involved in heavy travel or field work during the duration of the class.

Course Facilitators

The instructors possess a wealth of expertise in science communication, as well as marine science and conservation. They actively mentor other science communicators in formal classes and online publications.

Dr. Andrew David Thaler is the CEO of Blackbeard Biologic: Science and Environmental Advisors and Editor-in-Chief of the popular marine science and conservation website Southern Fried Science. He lectures on building and managing effective online environmental campaigns. His scientific studies focus on the connectivity of deep-sea hydrothermal vent ecosystems and understanding how patterns of connectivity or isolation affect deep-sea communities after catastrophic disturbance. He holds a B.S. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Marine Science and Conservation from Duke University.

Dr. Amy Freitag is a social scientist for NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal and Ocean Science. Her project-based work takes place across the U.S. and Great Lakes and serves to support cultural aspects of marine sanctuaries, resilience and well-being of coastal communities, ecosystem-based management, and other applied science needs. Amy holds a PhD in Marine Science and Conservation from Duke University.


Class Participation
One of the most critical elements of this class will be your personal contribution to the course through consistent postings to the course webpage, as well as participation during weekly web conferences. You will receive specific instructions for this requirement before the course commences.

Course Project

Social Media Campaign: Participants will develop and implement a specific campaign using two or more social media tools at least one of which must be new to them. Assignment details will be given at the beginning of the class.

Technical Requirements

We understand that participants have different comfort levels with online learning coming into this course. We are happy to answer any questions you have about online learning in general and our online learning software.

Internet Access
Course participants need to arrange to have reliable, high-speed internet access through their local internet service provider (ISP). We encourage participants to arrange for broadband access to the internet. Dial-up or slow connections will not work as effectively for this course. We cannot provide support for your network connection, nor can we help you with any home networking equipment such as firewalls, routers, or switches. For any of those issues, you will want to contact your ISP directly.

Distance Learning Software
The course will be facilitated using WebEx and a private course webpage. The Nicholas Executive Education Program will be available during the course to assist you with any course issues. Contact information will be provided with your pre-course packet. The distance learning software will be available to you at no additional charge (except for the WebCam and USB head-set for web conference participation).

Pre-Course Packet

You will need to purchase the course textbook, Webcam, and USB head-set for web conference participation (note: this is not included in the course tuition). 

Because this course will be held via online virtual classroom, we recommend that you use a WebCam and USB headset with microphone so that you can participate in real time with voice over internet. We recommend purchasing the Logitech HD Webcam C310 and Logitech H340 USB Headset (or similar) for the web conference participation. Please note, if your computer has a built in camera that will be sufficient.

General Course Policies

Payment is due upon receipt of invoice or no less than 15 days before the start of the course. If special arrangements must be made for payment due to agency requirements, you must contact our office no less than 15 days prior to the start of the course at to complete and submit a payment due notice form.

Failure to make payment arrangements 15 days prior to the start of the course may result in the forfeit of your seat and you will be held responsible for the full tuition of the course. Future registrations will not be accepted from individuals with unpaid invoices.

Course certificates will not be provided until payment is received.

Course Completion

Upon successful course completion, participants receive a Letter of Completion. Please note: Course does not offer Duke academic credit – All Certificate courses are non-credit professional development offerings.

Cancellation & Transfer Policy
All speakers and companies listed have confirmed their participation. If for unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances a speaker cannot attend, instructional time will be filled with comparable instructors. If a course is canceled due to insufficient registrations, tuition will be refunded. Duke cannot be held responsible for travel costs or arrangements made by participants.

Cancellation of registration requires 15 days written notice prior to course start date in order to receive a refund (please submit notification to Individuals who do not attend and fail to send written notice prior to the deadline will be charged the full tuition. You may send a substitute to attend the course in your place, however, a $100.00 administrative fee will be assessed for this change, regardless of when written notice is submitted. Any cancellation or substitute request must be received in writing.

  • 15 or more days prior to the course start date – Full tuition refund, minus a $100 administrative fee.
  • Less than 15 days prior to the course start date – Full tuition is assessed and a refund is forfeited.
  • Substitute within your organization can attend in your place for an additional $100.00 administrative fee.

In order to receive a refund, you must cancel your registration (in writing to by 5:00 p.m. on the refund deadline date for the course.

Questions? Please contact us at