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Communications Specialist

About Duke University

Duke University was created in 1924 through an indenture of trust by James Buchanan Duke. Today, Duke is regarded as one of America’s leading research universities. Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke is positioned in the heart of the Research Triangle, which is ranked annually as one of the best places in the country to work and live. Duke has more than 15,000 students who study and conduct research in its 10 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. With about 40,000 employees, Duke is the third largest private employer in North Carolina, and it now has international programs in more than 150 countries.

About the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions has merged with the Duke University Energy Initiative to create a new organization: the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability. Working closely with Duke University schools and other units, the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability advances the university’s mission to build a more sustainable world by developing transformative educational experiences; galvanizing and conducting impactful research; and engaging with key decision makers at the global, national, state, and local levels.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values of the Nicholas Institute. We believe that the educational environment is enhanced when diverse groups of people with diverse ideas come together to learn. Applicants with a demonstrated commitment to issues of diversity in higher education are particularly encouraged to apply.

Occupational Summary

The Communications Specialist plays a key role in implementing the institute's strategic communications plan by drafting and designing effective and innovative communications including original publications, articles, graphics, briefing materials, press releases, and social media posts.  This position will contribute to communications activities in ways that reflect and support the institute’s commitment to diversity and cultural competence as integral components of academic and organizational excellence.

Work Performed

Develop, edit, and curate content for the web, social media, email marketing, and presentations, including original stories, articles, graphics, videos, and multimedia.

Design graphics and contribute to the visual design and purchasing of print collateral, promotional materials, swag, signage, and other branded materials.

Manage the day-to-day operation of the unit’s email marketing (e.g., compiling newsletters, drafting eblasts, managing contact lists) and social media channels (e.g., monitoring activity, drafting content for review, sharing posts by partner organizations). Compile regular reports on email and social media analytics, including identification of trends and recommendations for improvement.

Assist in developing and maintaining editorial calendars and project management systems.

Manage content and serve as liaison for tech support for the institute’s public-facing digital screens.

Monitor the institute’s email inbox and direct or respond to inquiries.

Assist with projects involving collaboration among Duke communicators from multiple units. 

Assist in supporting colleagues with communications needs and advising student leaders on marketing Energy Week and other activities.

Skills - What you need to know and be able to do:

  • Tailor communications for varying audiences
  • Design effective graphics to promote programs, events, research findings, and more
  • Write about complicated topics in a succinct and engaging way
  • Prioritize tasks effectively, be responsive to deadlines and feedback, and have excellent time and task management skills
  • Pay attention to both the big picture and the details
  • Work independently and collaborate effectively with colleagues

Familiarity with Microsoft Office, graphic design tools (Adobe Creative Suite, Canva, etc.), social media platforms, email marketing software, and website content management systems is strongly preferred. Experience creating and editing video and multimedia products is helpful but not required, as is familiarity with environmental issues.

Required Qualifications at this Level


Work requires communication and marketing skills normally acquired through a bachelor's degree in a related field.


Work generally requires one year of related experience in advertising, marketing, media, promotions or public relations OR ANY OTHER EQUIVALENT COMBINATION OF RELEVANT EDUCATION AND/OR EXPERIENCE.

Experience You Will Gain

  • Developing effective communications that advance energy and environmental solutions
  • Helping shape the voice and communications approach of a new sub-brand within Duke University  
  • Collaborating with communicators across Duke to advance a university-wide commitment to tackling the climate crisis
  • Contributing to development of coherent systems and procedures for a newly merged organization

To Apply

IMPORTANT: Please include a cover letter as part of your application. 

Application Link (Job Requisition # 206872)

The intent of this job description is to provide a representative and level of the types of duties and responsibilities that will be required of positions given this title and shall not be construed as a declaration of the total of the specific duties and responsibilities of any particular position. Employees may be directed to perform job-related tasks other than those specifically presented in this description.

Duke University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual's age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

Duke aspires to create a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity, and belonging. Our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas-an exchange that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences flourishes. To achieve this exchange, it is essential that all members of the community feel secure and welcome, that the contributions of all individuals are respected, and that all voices are heard. All members of our community have a responsibility to uphold these values.