General Motors Corp. and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, have reached agreement on a multi-year, interdisciplinary teaching and research project aimed at furthering worldwide efforts to develop hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles by 2010, the university and company announced.

Duke's Fuqua School of Business is spearheading the project, with significant participation from the Pratt School of Engineering and the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy.

The project formally begins on Wednesday with the launch of a graduate-level course for students at Duke called "Interdisciplinary Issues in Introducing Radical Technological Change in the Established Business." It will teach students to understand and manage a broad set of opportunities and issues associated with revolutionary technology change.

GM has given Duke an initial donation of about $500,000 for the project.

The public policy implications of fuel cell technology are vital to its success, said Bruce W. Jentleson, director of Duke's Sanford Institute of Public Policy.

"New technology, especially in the global marketplace, raises many policy-related questions," Jentleson said. "How will the development and implementation of such initiatives affect environmental policy, the international energy economy, and political and regulatory decision-making? These are compelling and complicated issues."