Just Environments Policy Associate

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 Newly Merged Institute (NMI)

Duke University is heightening its commitment to accelerate sustainable and equitable solutions to the climate crisis and develop a new generation of climate-literate thought leaders. An ambitious university-wide strategy will build on decades of successful energy and environmental research, education, and external engagement efforts. As part of this endeavor, the university is merging two of its signature interdisciplinary units: the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Duke University Energy Initiative. Working closely with Duke University schools and other units, the newly merged institute (NMI) will advance the university’s climate strategy by developing transformative educational experiences; galvanizing and conducting impactful research; and engaging with decision makers at the global, national, state, and local levels.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are core values of the newly merged 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.

General Description

Just Environments is a joint program of the Nicholas Institute/Energy Initiative (NMI) and Kenan Institute, created in the spring of 2022 to formalize a longstanding partnership on environmental justice work. This position presents an opportunity to join the Just Environments program as it embarks on growing this partnership and the associated collaborations to support more climate and environmental justice work at Duke. The research analyst will report to the Just Environments Area Director and will be formally situated within the NMI but will work with Kenan Institute staff as well and with a team of collaborators who come from multiple schools and departments within Duke and beyond.

Just Environment projects include multiple community-based participatory research projects and the work of the Duke Environmental Justice Lab. Project teams include faculty, research staff, and student research assistants at Duke as well as other universities. Teams focus on the conception and construction of applied policy-relevant research related to climate and environmental justice. Community-based researchers are spread across the southeast region of the United States. Given the nature of the work, collaborators come from many backgrounds and bring both experiential and empirical expertise to bear on the projects. Collaborators may come from economics, epidemiology, planning, sociology, education, and other disciplines within Duke and other partner universities as well as from neighborhood organizations, community-based non-governmental organizations, private sector, and governmental entities. The collaborations focus on a variety of environmental and climate justice issues, ranging from the associations between industrial agriculture and racial wealth gaps to disparate health outcomes associated with air pollution exposure.

We seek someone with experience, expertise, and enthusiasm for working in such a highly collaborative environment with our diverse team of collaborators. We are looking for someone to organize and lead in tasks ranging from refining and managing protocols for data management and research replication, assisting the Area Director with establishing and implementing trainings for collaborators on “best practices” for research and data justice practices, and building relationships and trust with collaborators.

We are looking for a research analyst who enjoys community-based research processes; who works well with complex teams of faculty, staff, student, and external partners; and who is passionate about research that supports climate and environmental justice. We aspire to create a team that represents the diversity of our city, our region, and our world, and to create a space that encourages and embraces inclusiveness, equity, justice, and respect. We strongly encourage women and members of under-represented groups to apply. This is a two-year term-limited position.


  • Support a robust network of community partners and researchers who are seeking to implement data and research justice principles in identifying policy solutions to environmental and climate injustices. Assist the Area Director in synthesizing ideas, requests for collaboration, and other are raised for future programming and research projects.
  • Collaborate with researchers and community-based partners on the conception and construction of applied policy relevant research, including developing creative solutions to communicate complex research findings to the various audiences (including students, faculty, policy makers, national and local journalists, and the general public).
  • Write short policy briefs and white papers co-authored with the Area Director, collaborators, and students. Support grant writing by providing data, documentation, draft narratives and budgets.
  • Oversee and manage the training and work of student research assistants and interns. Identify new opportunities to involve Duke students in the specific program area.


  • Demonstrate analytical, statistical, and programming skills to manage, analyze, and interpret large data sets.
  • Communicate well and employ outstanding interpersonal skills with collaborators from diverse backgrounds. Show comfort with the community decision maker engagement process.
  • Prioritize work effectively, be responsive to deadlines and feedback, and have time and task management skills.
  • Demonstrate excellent written communication skills.
  • Ability and willingness to engage in (limited) travel.

Education & Experience Required

  • Work requires a bachelor's degree with two years’ experience in a field related to the specific position.
  • Work requires two years of experience in multiple methods-based social science, computer science, statistics, information science, applied mathematics or related field. A related master's degree may offset required years of experience on a 1:1 basis (e.g., a two-year master's degree in lieu two years of experience).

To Apply


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.