Student participants of the Net Impact Fall Break Career Trek visit Campbell’s Soup


By Stella Wang MEM'20, Nicholas School Communications Student Assistant

DURHAM, N.C. – Involvement in student groups at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment gives students unique opportunities to not only apply what they learn in class to real-world situations, but also to diversify their skillsets and mindsets.

More than 20 social and professional groups allow students to create communities within the school, develop new skills and pursue interests outside the classroom while adding to their overall experiences. The Net Impact Club, the Student Association for Geospatial Analysis (SAGA), and Diverse & Inclusive Community for the Environment (DICE) are just three groups that demonstrate the breadth of communities that students can join.

Net Impact is both a networking and professional development club that focuses on exploring how students, professionals and corporations can promote business skills to push for social and environmental change. It introduces Nicholas School students to business-related environmental opportunities that prepares them to apply knowledge and skills in the real world.

“Net Impact hopes to enhance what students are learning in class about sustainability in the private sector,” says co-president Shannon Thoits MEM’19.

The organization does so by offering networking events with local alumni and professionals as well as programs that aim to educate and inspire students. Each year, Net Impact sponsors a fall break career trek to educate attendees on the various career options available. This fall, the group traveled to Philadelphia.

Members of SAGA at the 2018 kick-off event

“I was able to connect with many knowledgeable alumni and leaders in corporate sustainability, learn about potential careers and innovative practices, and talk to businesses that are integrating sustainability into their operations,” says first-year MEM student Anna Chang, one of this year’s participants.

SAGA gives students the opportunity to learn about emerging trends and techniques related to geospatial analysis and develop GIS skills outside the classroom

“It brings speakers to campus and partners with organizations to match student members with exciting geospatial projects,” says president Ben Gregory MEM’19.

SAGA aims to further enrich Nicholas School students’ experiences by hosting seminars, symposia and speaking events to foster connections between members, alumni and faculty. Every November, SAGA hosts a GIS Day celebration where attendees can learn about advances in research and industry that could not have occurred without the use of geospatial analysis.

DICE, one of the newer organizations at the Nicholas School, aims to create and maintain a welcoming community, empower members of disenfranchised groups to join the Nicholas School community, and encourage discussion outside of the classroom.

President Dieynabou Barry MEM’19 explains that DICE strives to achieve its mission by hosting different events such as movie screenings, panel discussions, cultural celebrations and deeper discussions about timely, sometimes uncomfortable, subjects.

Members of the Nicholas School at last year’s Día de los Muertos Carnaval

DICE frequently co-sponsors events with other groups such as the D&I Actionators, a faculty and staff committee charged with creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community, the African Environment Initiative, and the Black & Latino Club. One of the largest events that DICE co-hosts during the fall semester is the Día de los Muertos Carnaval, which brings students together to both learn about and enjoy the holiday.