New Undergrad Program Aims to Spur Collaboration with HBCUs on Environmental Justice

September 25, 2014

Tim Lucas, 919-613-8084,

DURHAM, N.C. – Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, will visit Duke University on Wednesday, Oct. 1, to meet with undergraduates who are interested in taking part in the new Duke Immerse student exchange program, “Urban Environmental Justice and Social Entrepreneurship.”

Eight Duke undergrads will be selected to participate in the program, which will begin at the start of the 2015 spring semester.

The application deadline is Oct. 17.

The Duke Immerse program is part of a broader initiative aimed at creating a faculty-student interdisciplinary research team at Duke that will work with students and faculty from Paul Quinn College and other historically black colleges and universities on strategies to engage community members in environmental restoration and community health planning activities. Paul Quinn College is a small, private historically black college in Dallas, Texas.

While at Duke, President Sorrell will meet with two undergraduate classes during the day and host a dinner for interested students in the evening.

He will also meet with Alan Townsend, dean of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and speak to the 22 graduate students enrolled in the Nicholas School’s Rising TIDE (Training for Inclusion and Diversity in the Environment) leadership program.

The eight undergraduates from Duke and eight from Paul Quinn who are accepted into the Duke Immerse program will work together to confront issues of environmental injustice through the practices of restoration ecology and social entrepreneurship. They’ll also conduct research on cutting-edge community involvement tools and apply what they learned to design and implement meaningful opportunities for community engagement.

The Paul Quinn students will be in residence at Duke for two weeks during the program. The Duke students will be in residence at Paul Quinn for three weeks, one week at the beginning of the semester for course orientation and two weeks at the end of the semester to discuss their social entrepreneurship projects with community members.

Nicholas School faculty members Deborah Rigling Gallagher and Rebecca Vidra will select the eight Duke undergraduates who will take part.

The Duke Immerse project is a collaboration of the Nicholas School, the Duke Global Health Institute and Paul Quinn College.

You can learn more about the program, which is an offshoot of a Bass Connections project, at