Past Events from the Building In Justice Initiative


Occurred: Friday, May 13, 2022

From Durham: 8:00am-6:30pm

From Beaufort: 7:00am-7:30pm

Led by Dr. Ryan Emanuel, this all-day field trip will visit the traditional territory of the Lumbee people in Robeson County, NC. Members of the Nicholas School community will have opportunities to meet with and learn from members of the Lumbee Tribal Administration and other leaders in Robeson County about the root causes and direct impacts of the environmental injustices and the strategies they are employing to combat them. We will also be visiting a number of sites to view and discuss the direct manifestation of environmental injustice on the landscape. A to-go breakfast and an onsite lunch will be provided.

The primary purpose of the trip is to provide an opportunity to understand, in a holistic and experiential way, the impacts to people and places of environmental injustices. We also hope to build on the existing connections with these communities by Dr. Emanuel to discuss, plan and develop additional collaborative efforts in research, teaching and engagement.

Because of the nature of the funding for this trip, priority will be given to Nicholas School faculty and staff. Students and the faculty and staff from other units at Duke should complete the registration survey and will be placed on a waitlist. 


“I am grateful to Ryan Emanuel and his community for openly sharing their stories with us and welcoming us to their home. This generosity invited us to receive their teachings and listen deeply to their experiences. I could see gratitude on my colleagues’ faces, and felt a stronger sense of community among us, as a result. This wasn’t just a field trip; it was an invitation to mindfully engage in thinking about how our work can connect with the needs of the Lumbee people. I am inspired by the people we met who are not just talking about environmental injustices, but who are actively working on the ground to bring them to light. How might we join them, and train our students to join them, using our resources and capabilities? This field trip was just the first step in answering this question. It was an incredibly special way to connect with my own colleagues, and I am grateful to our organizers for this opportunity!”

Rebecca Vidra, Senior Lecturer, Marine Conservation and Ethics

“The trip was eye-opening. I learned a lot about the community and history of the Lumbee, as well as current environmental justice challenges. I expect to incorporate some of what I learned into classes I teach.”

Dr. Joel Meyer, Truman and Nellie Semans/Alex Brown and Sons Associate Professor of Molecular Environmental Toxicology

“The Environmental Justice field trip led by Ryan Emanuel to Robeson County, NC was deeply moving and inspiring for me. I am grateful for the opportunity to meet and engage so closely with the Lumbee people who welcomed us warmly into their community and shared such personal stories of perseverance and resiliency. I became aware of numerous operations which continue to inflict environmental injustices on the Lumbee people as well as strategies that Lumbee community leaders and volunteers alike exercise to stand up to corporations that do little to protect their health and safety. This field trip experience helped me understand more vividly how environmental injustices stealthily persist and show up in people’s daily lives. It is so important to listen to and amplify the voices of this community and others who experience these injustices. Inspired by the candid and genuine conversations we shared with our Lumbee hosts, I feel empowered to engage the communities I work with in meaningful conversation and invest in relationship-building to understand and support various communities needs.”

Emily Bilcik, NSOE Program Coordinator, Executive Education

“The trip was most recent one that I have had the opportunity to make to Robeson County. I will continue to talk about those issues and invite Donna Chavis and Mac Legerton to speak to my class again in the Spring semester.”

Sherri P White-Williamson, Instructor of Environmental Sciences and Policy