From the Dean
Our collective potential for personal, professional and intellectual transformation is stretched when we are exposed to new ideas, perspectives and opportunities. Greater cross racial and cultural understanding, breaking down stereotypes, understanding power differentials, and fostering tolerance for different viewpoints is part of our collective obligation to create a community of which we can all be proud to be a part.
Being an environmental leader means having competencies across the range of diversity, equity and inclusion issues that we face in our professional and personal worlds. Nicholas faculty, staff and students work in an increasingly diverse workforce and we all need these skills so we can enlighten and not agitate.
In the Nicholas School, we recognize that diversity leads to excellence. Diversity of perspective and experience shapes not only how we teach, but how we conduct science and create knowledge, including how we understand the contours of problems we consider and the solutions that emerge. Consequently, we achieve excellence when we are diverse. Being exposed to different perspectives will result in us becoming better scientists, managers and practitioners as we seek to create and serve as environmental leaders of global consequence.
We at the Nicholas School have spent some considerable and necessary time over the last few months meeting in small groups and as a community to better understand what needs to be done to improve diversity and inclusion within our School, including students, faculty and staff. Read the outcomes of these discussions.
—Toddi A. Steelman, Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment
Climate Change and Arctic Identities
In a guest column, Nicholas School alumna Michaela Stith T'18 shares her insights about the corrosive confluence of environmental, social and economic injustices faced by Indigenous, Black and dark-skinned residents of the Arctic region.
Ryan Emanuel on highlighting Indigenous perspectives in the environmental field
Incoming faculty member Ryan Emanuel T'99: "Indigenous peoples have spent centuries or in some cases millennia studying, stewarding and thriving in their lands. In many cases, they are the original practitioners of environmental science."
Cagle Named Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Nicki Cagle has been named our new Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This position will support NSOE faculty, staff and students in developing a community of inclusion, recognizing that doing so is a team effort. This new position is consistent with recommendations from NSOE strategic plans, the 2020 NSOE Actions for Racial Equity Student Petition, Faculty Council, and Duke University’s Anti-Racism Plan school-level review.
New Undergraduate Course on Race
Nicholas School professor Xavier Basurto was on the faculty committee that developed "The Invention and Consequence of Race," a new course that will showcase the breadth of teaching and scholarship at Duke on the topic of race. The full-credit course will be open to 300 undergraduates, regardless of major.
DEEP Insights into Diversity & Equity
The Nicholas School's Diversity and Equity in Environmental Programs (DEEP) Collaborative brings members of the environmental community together to share insights and learn how to recognize and overcome biases.
Pathway to Success
Since 2012, the Nicholas School's ESSP program has helped more than 270 talented high school students from underserved communities enhance their environmental literacy and explore careers in STEM fields.
Environmental issues affect us all. We need global perspectives to affect positive change for our world, and our planet. We all need to be part of the solutions.
The 2017-2022 Nicholas School Strategic Plan outlines five goals for enhancing diversity and inclusion, an effort we believe is central to achieving our mission of creating knowledge and leaders of consequence for a sustainable future.
The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Actionators are a core group of faculty and staff who are committed to building community by actively supporting initiatives and leading discussions that further diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the Nicholas School community.
On average, each member of the DEI Actionators has 15-20 years of higher education experience. DEI Actionators regularly participate in trainings and workshops related to diversity, equity and inclusion. A sampling of past trainings includes:
- Actionators Training (Nicholas School of the Environment)
- Active Shooter Training
- Asexuality 101 training
- Bystander Training
- Center Staging Diversity & Inclusion in Higher Education HR
- Culture and Evaluation at The Evaluators Institute
- Discrimination and Harassment Compliance Training
- Gender in the Workplace
- Harassment Prevention Advisor Training
- Human Resource Advisor Training
- Implicit Bias Training
- Intercultural Awareness Workshop
- International Student Admission Experience
- LGBTQIA+ 101 training
- Racial Equity Learning Arc
- Racial Equity Phase I and II
- Racial Healing Circle Training
- Theater Delta Deep Dive D&I Workshop
- Title IX Training
- Trans 101
Why We Actionate
Rather than appointing a single individual to focus on these areas, the Nicholas School uses a team-based, multifaceted approach in addressing diversity, equity and inclusion within its community.
We have empowered the Actionator team to review, initiate, support and implement activities that promote diversity, equity and inclusion into the fabric of the Nicholas School's community and everything that we do. We believe our approach works towards engaging our entire school community to be not only as diverse and inclusive as possible but also equitable in our decision-making but also in the way we address complex issues that impact members within our community.
HOW WE ACTIONATE
The DE&I Actionator team meets weekly to:
- Serve as a community of support to foster respect and open dialogue among students, faculty and staff from a variety of backgrounds (race, ethnicity, socio-economic, nationality, ideology, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc).
- Develop, recommend and implement activities that further NSOE diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, including those recommended by the DE&I strategic planning committee.
- Interact with DE&I faculty leaders such as Nicki Cagle, Director of K-12 Pathway and Pipeline Programs, and support the NSOE DE&I student groups and other groups listed below.
- Serve as a sounding board for new diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives considered by the Dean.
- Review funding proposals related to DE&I projects.
WHAT IT MEANS TO ACTIONATE
Simply put, our goal is to turn ideas into ACTION!
When We Actionate
Actionator Programming, Events & Initiatives
Roundtable Discussions Lunch and Learn
Throughout the school year, we offer regular opportunities for staff, faculty and students to join small-group discussions with community leaders, educators, faculty experts and environmental practitioners who represent many areas of diversity, to discuss current and relevant issues such as women in science, equity and gender roles, career paths, environmental justice/law, leadership, and art and the environment. Participants can bring their lunch and sometimes lunch is provided.
The Actionator’s Global Connections initiative aims to strengthen the academic, social and professional bonds between international and domestic members of our community, and to promote cross-cultural understanding, engagement and competence in the interconnected world. The Global Connections Initiative invites engagement from all members of the Nicholas School community to bring their ideas, input, feedback and commitment to supporting our growing global community. Leadership for Global Connections includes a facilitator, faculty and staff, and students. Nancy Kelly, Team Lead, Actionators, conceived this idea and launched this initiative with the support of staff, faculty and students.
Our DE&I student group DICE hosts an annual International Potluck open to all students, staff and faculty. All community members are invited to bring a dish to share. Our international community members are invited to bring foods from their native country or their ancestors' homelands, and U.S. community members are invited to bring foods from their home state within the U.S. Additionally, we encourage community members to dress in clothing from their native country/culture or any culture they most closely identity with from around the globe.
Lunar New Year Celebration
The Lunar New Year Celebration is an opportunity for the entire Nicholas School community to join together and celebrate the beginning of the new year with not only our Asian student, staff and faculty populations but also with others who traditionally celebrate this holiday in their home country. Infused with fun and great food, the evening is filled with activities like name translations, competition zodiak buttons and sparklers.
Third Thursday Community Coffee
Every Third Thursday during the school year, we host a Community Coffee Chat. The Community Coffees are designed to be an informal, safe, and open forum to discuss matters of and for the Nicholas School community. The Coffee Chats are an opportunity to build community, strengthen relationships among staff, students and faculty and provide an chance to fortify not only professional but also so personal bonds that will serve to strengthen our shared commitment to forging a more sustainable and diverse future. All staff, faculty, and students are welcome and encouraged to attend and/or host one of the Community Coffee Chats. Coffee, tea and snacks provided.
Women in the Environment at the Nicholas School (WE@Nic)
WE@Nic brings the entire Nicholas School community together to discuss experiences related to women studying and working in the environmental field. Our mission is to provide support, skills, and realistic expectations that focus on work life balance, mentor/mentee relationships, navigating power dynamics, and early career tips.
Trainings: Educate the Community
The Actionators hosts several learning sessions that addressed various key issues in the hope of improving our community – implicit bias, sexual misconduct policies, counseling resources and safety trainings.
Implicit bias refers to the unconscious attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. When we recognize our implicit bias and are inclined towards change, we can work together to make the Nicholas School a more inclusive and equitable environment.
Title IX – Discussion of Student Reporting Requirements and Best Practices
Under Duke’s sexual misconduct policies, all employees except those specifically designated as confidential resources are expected to report sexual misconduct involving students. During the training, we spent time defining sexual harassment and workplace misconduct and discussing reporting responsibilities, including what must be reported and when, and what to say to students when they report possible sexual misconduct.
DukeReach and Duke CAPS
DukeReach directs the university’s community to the resources available to help a student in need. All of us at Duke care deeply about the success and well-being of our students. Contact a rep today to help a student in need.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) helps Duke students enhance strengths and develop abilities to successfully live, grow, and learn in their personal and academic lives. Many services available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, including brief individual counseling/psychotherapy, consultation, couples and group counseling, assistance with referrals, more.
Shots Fired On Campus: Active Shooter Training Program
The purpose of the tabletop exercise is to enhance the ability of establishing a survival mindset and preventing a panic mindset. It is a personalized exercise that focused on Environmental Hall and LSRC. This exercise reviewed the options to consider if you are ever confronted with a severe safety situation. Participants discussed “What If” questions and scenarios included employees from Nicholas School. This exercise was completed with both PowerPoint slideshow and DVD, and the goal is to follow up with subsequent trainings about other issues of safety and security.
Faculty and Staff Discrimination and Harassment Compliance Training
Duke is fully committed to giving our students and colleagues the opportunity to work and study without fear of harassment or discrimination. To that end, we have long required all Duke faculty and staff to complete regular training on our non-discrimination policies and expectations
Resource List & Organizations with a Diversity Focus
Nicholas School Student Groups
- Black and Latino Club (BLC)
- Diverse and Inclusive Community for the Environment (DICE)
- Environmental Justice Network
- Nic Queer Network (NQN)
- Working Group for the Environment in Latin America (WGELA)
Duke University Student Groups
- Asian American Alliance
- Black Graduate and Professional Student Association (BGPSA)
- Bouchet Society
- Duke ASL
- Duke Disability Alliance (DDA)
- Duke Student Veterans Association/ Student Veterans of America
- Duke University Chinese Students and Scholars Association (DCSSA)
- Graduate Student Parents at Duke
- Hurston-James Society
- Latin American Student Organization (LASO)
- Muslim Students Association (MSA)
- Native American Student Alliance (NASA)
- Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM)
- Women in Science & Engineering
Duke Campus Resources
- Center for Gender & Sexual Diversity
- Center for Multicultural Affairs
- Center for Muslim Life
- Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) Equity & Social Justice Service
- International House (iHouse)
- Jewish Life at Duke
- Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture
- Office for Institutional Equity
- Office of Student Conduct
- Women’s Center
- American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE)
- Association for Women in Science (AWIS)
- Center for Diversity and the Environment (CDE)
- OUT for Sustainability
- Society of African American Marine and Environmental Scientists (SAAMES)
- Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEP - Triangle Chapter)
Nicholas School Policies on Inclusion
The Nicholas School strives to demonstrate respect and dignity in all of our interactions. It is essential that our students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to learn and work in a safe and inclusive environment.
Anti-Harassment & Sexual Misconduct
The Nicholas School is committed to creating a space that is free from all forms of unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other forms of sexual misconduct, as well as unwelcoming behavior in our community. It is essential that our students, faculty and staff have the opportunity to learn and work in a safe and inclusive environment.
Access & Accommodations
The Nicholas School and Duke University is committed to supporting equal opportunity employment opportunities and reasonable accommodations for students, employees and visitors with disabilities by providing reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals per Duke’s policies.
The Nicholas School is also committed to creating a space that is free from discrimination based on disability. Our policy abides by Duke University’s anti-harassment policy. Duke has in place explicit and clear prohibitions against harassment. Individuals have the right to come forward with concerns or complaints and Duke Policies prohibit retaliation against them for doing so.
Duke Office for Institutional Equity
We value our strong partnership with Duke's Office for Institutional Equity and its support of our efforts to create a community that recognizes and values the contributions and concerns of all its members, regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, physical capabilities and other important characteristics of their identity.
Learn More: Duke Office for Institutional Equity
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Discussion
Master of Environmental Management students Matias and Yi discuss the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion with Stanback Dean Toddi Steelman and faculty member Betsy Albright.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the Nicholas School
Stanback Dean Toddi Steelman discusses the Nicholas School of the Environment’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion with Master of Environmental Management students Udit Gupta, Dieynabou Barry and Rosanne Lam live from Grainger Hall.
Alum Dika Kuoh on Black History, Diversity in Environmental Engineering
Nicholas School Alum Dika Kuoh (DEL-MEM '13) joined us via Skype to discuss black leaders that he admires and diversity in the field of environmental engineering.
How Did You Benefit from the Diversity of Students in the Program?
Laura Vedral (DEL-MEM ’17) and Dika Kuoh (DEL-MEM ‘13) discuss the value of studying among a diverse cohort on the DEL-MEM online master's program.
Facebook Live: Faculty, Students Lead Diversity & Inclusion Efforts
Stanback Dean Jeff Vincent, along with masters students Gloria Aldana, Kristen McKinley and Taylor Price, discuss how they're leading efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.
Sustainability and Talent Recruitment: Diversity and Inclusion Hiring Strategies
Glenda Lee, assistant director of Alum Affairs at the Nicholas School of the Environment, and MEM students Sidney McLaurin, Jr., and Laura Marie Davis, discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion in today's hiring and recruiting.