Reporting & Safety

The Nicholas School is committed to providing our community members with a variety of ways to express concerns about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the School and report unprofessional behaviors among community members.

Below you will find resources for members of the NSOE Community to use to report unprofessional behaviors, as well as harrassment and discrimination. All NSOE community members are invited to report unprofessional behavior via the Coffee Conversation Corps. We refer you to Duke Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) resources to report harassment and discrimination, these route differ for students, staff, and faculty. The Duke Office of Alumni Engagement and Development has also developed guidelines for handling any unprofessional behavior or harassment that may originate from external alumni, donors, or volunteers.

Reporting Unprofessional Behaviors: The Coffee Conversation Corps

If any member of the Nicholas School community has experienced unprofessional behavior by another Nicholas School community member, including faculty, staff, or students, please use this form to submit a report. If the behavior you would like to report falls under University definitions of harassment or discrimination, please refer to University-level reporting resources below.

Overview. The NSOE Coffee Conversation Corps aims to improve inclusivity and workplace quality by promoting a positive and safe work culture among faculty, staff, and students. Specifically, the Coffee Conversation Corps trains Duke faculty and staff to become Peer Messengers to help their colleagues uphold Duke’s core values (Excellence, Safety, Integrity, Diversity and Teamwork) in their day-to-day behaviors. When unprofessional behavior is reported, instead of seeking immediate punitive actions, Peer Messengers foster improved professionalism through awareness, understanding and support. Programs like the NSOE Coffee Conversation Corps report enormous success!

Incidents that constitute a violation of Duke Policy must be reported to the appropriate offices, such as Human Resources the Office of Institutional Equity (see below for more information). Thus, the Coffee Conversation Corps cannot be considered a completely confidential resource for resolving unprofessional behavior. If you have questions about whether a situation can be kept confidential we invite you to reach out to the AD of DEI to learn more about the process.

How do we define unprofessional behavior? Unprofessional behavior is any behavior counter to Duke University or Nicholas School of the Environment policies, standards of conduct, or values, including behavior that is disruptive, intimidating, inappropriate, illegal, or creates a decreased sense of inclusivity and belonging in the school. 

How are incidents reported and tracked? Incidents of unprofessional behavior can be reported on this form or by contacting Dr. Nicki Cagle directly ( A record of reported incidents is kept by the Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

For what kinds of incidents will a Peer Messenger be utilized? Peer Messengers provide support and guidance around behavior that is reported to be disruptive to colleagues or learners. More serious behaviors are referred to NSOE leadership or the Duke University Office of Institutional Equity – serious behaviors include harrassment and discrimination, which are defined below. 

Reporting Harassment & Discrimination

According to Duke University’s resources, “Duke’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct applies to all operations of the university and protects all members of the Duke community. This policy prohibits discrimination and harassment based on any of these protected characteristics (also known as protected status): age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, and veteran status.”

What is harassment? “A type of discrimination that occurs when unwelcome verbal, visual, physical, electronic, or other conduct, based on an individual’s or group’s protected status or characteristic, is sufficiently serious to significantly interfere with that individual’s or group’s ability to participate in or benefit from Duke programs or activities or their terms and conditions of employment.”

What is discrimination? “When an individual or group is subjected to an adverse action based upon a protected status or characteristic. Discrimination can occur in either an employment or an educational context. Discrimination also includes failing to provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified person with a disability or failing to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, as required by state and federal law.”

What reporting resources are available to students? If you experience unprofessional behavior, please read about the Reporting Unprofessional Behavior resources above. If your experience falls into the category of harassment that interferes with your ability to participate in Duke activities or discrimination, please use the resources below.

Please note that if you report incidents of sexual misconduct, even anonymously, faculty and staff are obligated to make a report to either the Office of Student Conduct or the Office of Institutional Equity, depending on the case. The only exception to this policy is for when you have used the “confidential” resources listed above.

What reporting resources are available to staff and postdoctoral appointees? If you experience unprofessional behavior, please read about the Reporting Unprofessional Behavior resources above. If your experience falls into the category of harassment that interferes with your ability to participate in Duke activities or discrimination, please use the resources below.

What reporting resources are available to faculty? If you experience unprofessional behavior, please read about the Reporting Unprofessional Behavior resources above. If your experience falls into the category of harassment that interferes with your ability to participate in Duke activities or discrimination, please use the resources below.

Please note that in June 2022, the Duke University Office of the President released the following announcement about the Faculty Ombudsperson role:

“Last month, we announced the creation of a new Office of the Ombuds, to be led by a university-wide ombudsperson. While the search for that position continues, we are pleased that Ada Gregory, Associate Director at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and former university ombudsperson for students, will serve as the interim ombudsperson for Duke faculty beginning July 1, 2022. For Ada’s contact information and to learn more about the university ombuds office, please visit the Duke Ombuds Office website.

Paul Manos, current university faculty ombudsperson, and Laura Svetkey, current School of Medicine faculty ombudsperson, will conclude their service on June 30, 2022. We are thankful to both Paul and Laura for providing invaluable guidance to Duke faculty.

The search for the university-wide ombudsperson is expected to conclude in the fall. The search committee is accepting nominations for the position. Nominations and comments about the position can be submitted via email at”

Additional Resources for Faculty

Looking for resources to report sexual harassment or misconduct? Please visit this page.

Issues with External Alumni, Donors, or Volunteer Behavior

Modified from Duke Alumni Engagement and Development. (2022). Managing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Issues. Duke University, Durham NC.

Duke University is committed to the shared values of respect, trust, inclusion, discovery, and excellence. As part of this commitment, Duke actively values diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and seeks to take advantage of the rich backgrounds and abilities of everyone. AED supports Duke’s efforts by building and maintaining an equitable community of staff, alumni, donors, and friends, as outlined in our  DEI strategic framework .

The protocol below provides guidance to staff should they encounter inappropriate conduct and/or bias from fellow staff members or our external constituencies. Our actions must align with existing Duke policies, which are in place to ensure protection for all parties, consistency in response, and adherence to Duke values. 


Behaviors that are actionable include violations of our Volunteer Standards of Conduct and Confidentiality or violations of Duke’s Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct. Freedom of expression, including controversial views that might not align with Duke’s values, is protected under Duke’s policy. Therefore, not every offensive comment can be formally acted upon.

Events, In Person Meetings, Phone Calls, Zoom, Email

  • As a Duke staff member, you are not required to engage directly and can excuse yourself from an uncomfortable conversation using one of the following phrases: “Excuse me, I need to step away to make a phone call.”  “I am uncomfortable with those comments and prefer not to continue this conversation.” “Can you explain what you mean?” “I am offended by that statement and would prefer to change the subject.”
  • If you are managing an event, if possible, state that you are uncomfortable with the comment or action and try to steer the conversation in a different direction.
  • If the incident involves a volunteer, please respond by saying, “I am concerned by those statements, which do not align with the expectations outlined in the Duke Volunteer Code of Conduct. I will refer this to Alumni Engagement and Development leaders for follow up.” 
  • If you believe a formal response or action is appropriate, including incidents involving volunteers, notify AED’s Chief of Staff who will provide further guidance and develop a resolution in consultation with appropriate parties within AED and the university, which may include the staff member involved, OIE, and University Communications.
  • Depending on the resolution of the situation, a flag may be created on the alumni, donor, or volunteer’s record for future reference.

Social Media

  • Do not respond to negative or concerning comments. Take a screenshot and contact the Director of Marketing & Communications for follow up.