Frank Dukes



BA University of Virginia; MS and PhD., George Mason University


I help groups address complex public problems and conflicts in ways that strengthen communities and organizations when other forces are pushing them apart. Each year I work on a dozen or so collaborative change projects involving environment and land use, water, historic landscapes, community development, education, and health. I also have intensified my emphasis on race and equity, including work within UVA as well as outside the University.

The bulk of my work involves equitable collaboration - work that emphasizes relationship and that is trauma-informed, inclusive, responsive, truth-seeking, deliberative, and adaptive to organizational and community needs and circumstances.

My teaching integrates knowledge developed over 30 years of my own and my colleagues' practice as well as that offered in academic literature. My teaching takes place through  courses, class and community presentations, independent studies and intern mentoring, and professional training. I help students and others develop the knowledge, skills and critical thinking to be successful at helping shape their built and natural environments in ways that are healthy, resilient, and sustainable ecologically, socially and economically. I also emphasize the need for self-directed learning with students becoming increasingly responsible for their own learning during a semester’s course.

As a mediator and facilitator, I seek to help communities address complex problems and conflicts in ways that build community resilience and that strengthen organizations. My work fits within one of three broad categories: building knowledge; building capacity; and building sustainable solutions. Underlying all of the work is a commitment to justice and equity.

In recent years I have gravitated towards two geographic areas of focus. These are the coalfields of Appalachia and the Chesapeake Bay watershed. I also am working on a number of projects involving the transformation of historic sites and communities, including founding UCARE (University & Community Action for Racial Equity), serving on the design team of UVA's Memorial to Enslaved Laborer, serving as co-facilitator of Africatown's (Mobile, Alabama) Heritage Preservation Foundation, and more.

My discipline is that of those who seek to find ways to inhabit our spaces in healthy relationship with one another and with the environment that sustains and inspires us. I am a designer not of things but of equitable collaborative change processes.

Equitable collaboration focuses on relationships and is trauma-informed, inclusive, responsive, truth-seeking, deliberative, and adaptive to organizational and community needs and circumstances. When done well, equitable collaboration can promote new understanding, generate innovation, build connections and social capital, promote individual and collective growth, foster healing and reconciliation, and build legitimacy for actions.

Classes taught include collaborative planning for sustainability, environmental conflict resolution, mediation, consensus building, public and community involvement, comparative aspects of violence and non-violence for political change, and reparations and restorative justice for addressing irreparable wrongs including UVA History: Race and Repair.  

2020 - Advisory Board, Memory Project (UVA)

2017 - National Board Member, Not in Our Town

2016 - 2017 - Member, Charlottesville Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces

2012- 2018 - Fellow, Healthy Appalachia Institute

2014 - 2016 - Virginia Rural Health Advisory Board

2013- 2014 - Visiting Scholar, Institute for Water Resources, US Army Corps of Engineers

2008-12 - Visiting Scholar, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and Dept. of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University

2006 - 2017 - National Board, Policy Consensus Initiative (now Kitchen Table Democracy)

2006 - 2012 - Member and co-Chair, Women’s Center Advisory Council (University of Virginia)

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