An Active Strategy is Key to Enhancing Diversity in the Environmental Field, Says Visiting Scholar

February 9, 2016

Tim Lucas, 919/613-8084,

By Lyndsi Lewis
Nicholas School Social Media Specialist

DURHAM, N.C.—Visiting scholar Dorceta E. Taylor joined faculty hosts Dean Urban, Megan Mullin, and Erika Weinthal and 21 attendees for a roundtable discussion about diversity and inclusion efforts and future steps for Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment on Tuesday, Feb. 9, in Environment Hall.

Taylor, a prominent environmental justice scholar as well as a leader in understanding diversity in environmental organizations, directs the Minority Environmental Leadership Development Initiative at the University of Michigan.

She is visiting Duke and the Nicholas School February 8 and 9 to meet with campus constituents and give presentations on diversity.

During her talk this morning at Environment Hall, Taylor discussed the challenges in fostering diversity and inclusion in the broader environmental field. She shared examples of what has and hasn’t worked to diversify other environmental workplaces and communities, and suggested some action items that could enhance diversity and inclusion at the Nicholas School.


She also shared information about the Minority Environmental Leadership Development Initiative she directs at Michigan and how NSOE can apply recommendations from the Green 2.0 Diversity report she authored in 2014.

Taylor encourages NSOE and its peer institutions to stop thinking and talking about diversity as an abstract idea, saying that there should be an active strategy to demonstrate diversity to prospective students, particularly through the racial demographic of its faculty.

“One begets the other. If you want to welcome students of color, you need faculty of color,” Taylor says. “I have so many students who say ‘We just don’t see anybody that looks like us on the faculty.’ If your faculty doesn’t reflect who you’re working with, that is a very strong message to students… (so) they will enroll somewhere else.”

Later today, Taylor will also meet with Nicholas School students in Field Auditorium to discuss diversity from the student perspective.

Her visit was part of Dean Alan Townsend’s ongoing initiative to enhance diversity and inclusion at the Nicholas School.