Dec 182014
 December 18, 2014

kieran-healyA recent article in The Economist highlights KIE faculty Kieran Healy’s research into what an airplane would look like if the space were allocated in proportion to American socio-economic tiers.

What has happened to make Business Class more cramped? The answer is to be found in Ruling Class. Sorry, I mean, First Class. On Air Gini, those eight most-valued passengers—three and a half percent of those on board—get thirty five percent of the available seating space. That’s a lot of legroom. So much, in fact, that as First Class passengers have spread out to take up the first third of the plane, Air Gini has been forced to replace the luxurious Business Class seats in the real-life configuration with still-comfortable but noticeably smaller chairs.

Dec 172014
 December 17, 2014

Lamb-FellowsGeorge C. Lamb Jr. Visiting Fellows in Regulatory Governance
The Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, in collaboration with Duke’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the Fuqua School of Business, invites outstanding scholars of regulatory governance to apply for 1-2 residential George C. Lamb, Jr. Fellowships for the 2015-16 academic year. Fellows will work with the Rethinking Regulation program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, a multi-disciplinary community comprised of faculty members and graduate/professional students from many academic departments and professional schools at Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University. The group’s members study and assess “regulation in action” – the evolving politics, operations, and culture of regulatory institutions, their interactions with regulated businesses and other interest groups, and normative frameworks for the evaluation of regulatory policy.

In addition to pursuing their own research, Lamb Fellows will be expected to participate in Rethinking Regulation seminars and workshops, Kenan Institute for Ethics workshops, and help shape a significant collaborative research project along with other members of the Rethinking regulation community. As part of that collaboration, Fellows will undertake some teaching responsibilities in Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and/or Fuqua School of Business – most likely co-teaching an advanced research seminar focused on subject matter of the collaborative research project, though other arrangements are possible. Fellows can come from any relevant academic discipline, including political science, public policy/administration, history, economics, sociology, cognitive psychology, anthropology, business management, law, environmental studies, risk analysis, and engineering.

Thematic Preferences for 2015-16
We especially welcome proposals from scholars with expertise or a strong emerging interest in one of the following two areas:

  • Retrospective review – assessment of regulatory rules, programs, strategies and agencies, examining what distinguishes successful from unsuccessful regulatory governance.
  • Adaptive regulation – strategies of regulatory governance that can appropriately cope with changing conditions and rapid processes of technological or organizational innovation, in contexts such as financial regulation, the oversight of advanced techniques of extracting fossil fuels (fracking, deep-sea drilling), nanotechnology, etc.

Fellowship Terms
We prefer proposals for the full academic year, but will consider applications for a single semester fellowship. All applicants should: possess a doctorate, J.D., or equivalent professional degree; be at least two years beyond their graduate training; and be based outside the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. All scholarly ranks are eligible. Residence in Durham is expected during the tenure of the fellowship. Lamb Fellows will receive office space at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, full Duke Library privileges, and a modest research account. Primary financial support, in the form of a fellowship grant, will vary according to individual circumstances. We anticipate offering grants equal to one-half of yearly or semester salaries, up to an annually set maximum amount, which may be less than half-salary for professors at the higher end of the compensation spectrum.

Application Process
Applicants should submit all of the following to Amber Díaz Pearson ( by January 9, 2015:

  • A letter of application that describes the candidate’s research areas and experience, ongoing projects, interest in collaborative research and teaching, and rationale for desiring a sustained period of engagement with Rethinking Regulation
  •  A 2-3 page research proposal that details the individual work to be pursued during the term of the fellowship
  • A curriculum vitae
  • Two to four references – these should be individuals who can speak to the candidate’s research expertise, experience in multi-disciplinary contexts, and capacity for/interest in collaborative academic work.

Selection Criteria
The Selection Committee, made up of scholars active in the Rethinking Regulation program, will assess applications on the basis of:

  • The quality of their research and other achievements
  • The promise of their current research, especially in bridging disciplinary divides and informing ongoing regulatory policy debates
  • Their capacity for/interest in collaborative research, teaching, and writing
  • The fit between their expertise and the research priorities identified by Rethinking Regulation.

An affirmative action and equal-opportunity employer, Duke University is committed to increasing the cultural and intellectual diversity of its academic community.

Dec 162014
 December 16, 2014

Teju-Book-Club-400About a year ago, the Kenan Institute for Ethics began a staff book club, modeled after a club begun by the Political Science departmental staff. Our group—made up of several Kenan staff members—meets monthly to discuss works of fiction and non-fiction that relate, broadly, to ethics. The clubs are designed to foster an informal and fun conversational space for Duke employees, and have in the past allowed engagement with authors such as John Green, Teju Cole, and Eula Biss. You can read more about the ethics book club model in a recent Duke Today article.

If you are interested in in starting your own department or school book club and would like a sample list of books or information on our model, please contact Bear Postgraduate Fellow Michaela Dwyer. In addition to our own staff book club, the Kenan Institute is able to partially sponsor additional staff books clubs throughout the university. While we are no longer accepting funding proposals for the current academic year, we will begin taking requests for 2015-2016 in July. Stay tuned to our website for more details! In the meantime, you might consider submitting a Campus Grant application (next round due February 15).


While we are not currently accepting new funding proposals for staff book clubs, please keep in mind the following specifications must be met and addressed in all proposals:

  • Clubs are open only to staff members from Duke departments and schools; clubs must be comprised entirely of Duke staff members
  • Clubs must engage issues surrounding ethics through their book selections and group conversations (sample book list available upon request)
  • Clubs should meet approximately monthly and meet on-campus, preferably during work hours
  • Clubs should be interested in convening with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Political Science, and Sanford School groups for occasional large-group discussions
  • Clubs should submit a report of activities by the end of the year
Dec 162014
 December 16, 2014

051213_bennear_balleisen_krawiec_wiener001In March, 2013, KIE Senior Fellow Kim Krawiec (Law) organized a symposium on paid organ donation as a “taboo trade.” Now the working papers from the event have been edited into a special issue of the Duke Law faculty journal Law and Contemporary Problems. The symposium united medical professionals and academics, and was supported by a Kenan Institute for Ethics faculty grant on topics of public ethics.

You can read more about the project on Krawiec’s blog. Krawiec is a co-investigator of the Recalibrating Risk project and is Kathrine Robinson Everett Professor of Law at Duke Law School.

Dec 122014
 December 12, 2014

Sinnott-ArmstrongWriting for The Conversation, KIE faculty Walter Sinnott-Armstrong explains that while our brain does, indeed, control our functions, there are times when one must take responsibility for ones choices and other times when moral thinking and behavior may be modified by problems with the brain, such as disease or injury.

Despite some rhetoric, almost nobody really believes that the fact that your brain made you do it is by itself enough to excuse you from moral responsibility. On the other side, almost everybody agrees that some brain states, such as seizures, do remove moral responsibility. The real issues lie in the middle.

What about mental illnesses? Addictions? Compulsions? Brainwashing? Hypnosis? Tumors? Coercion? Alien hand syndrome? Multiple personality disorder? These cases are all tricky, so philosophers disagree about which people in these conditions are responsible — and why. Nonetheless, these difficult cases do not show that there is no difference between seizures and normal desires, just as twilight does not show that there is no difference between night and day. It is hard to draw a line, but that does not mean that there is no line.

Dec 102014
 December 10, 2014

Duke University Provost Sally Kornbluth announced a committee to craft a new academic strategic plan for the university. She has chosen Noah Pickus, Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, as the committee’s vice chair. The committee will be chaired by Susan Lozier of the Nicholas School of the Environment.

We anticipate this to be an 18-month process that will engage a number and variety of stakeholders — faculty of course, but also students, staff, alumni and others interested in Duke’s future success and impact.  I have asked Susan and Noah to lead a committee that will solicit input from throughout the university…[to define] the overarching themes we should consider for Duke, and for higher education in general.  That will be followed by a year of intense analysis, debate and consensus-building, with the goal of delivering a new academic strategic plan by summer 2016.

Dec 082014
 December 8, 2014

jennifer-millerIn a Wall Street Journal Article, Jennifer Miller, a George C. Lamb, Jr. Regulatory Fellow with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, discusses new rules set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulating clinical drug trials. The rules come in response to findings that a large number of clinical trials do not publish their data to the organization. There are concerns, however, on the organization’s willingness to punish those who do not follow the new guidelines.

“There’s reason for concern,” because the government did not add enforcement and monitoring capability to the existing law, says Jennifer Miller, who is a fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. She is working on a study about compliance in reporting trial results and says preliminary findings indicate oversight and enforcement by the FDA of existing regulations is weak.

Dec 052014
 December 5, 2014

DHRCatKIE-Human-Trafficking-Summary-400In October, a group of faculty from across Duke’s departments and schools were joined by scholars from other universities for a roundtable discussion on human trafficking hosted by the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. The event was organized around the residency of this year’s Visiting Fellow in Human Rights, Anne Gallagher, a former United Nations Special Adviser on Human Trafficking. The DHRC at KIE has just published a summary of the roundtable discussion compiled by Kenan Institute for Ethics undergraduate research assistant Leah Cattoti.

The diverse expertise among the participants reflects the need for interdisciplinary collaboration to address the complex dynamics of human trafficking. The roundtable brought together those with knowledge and experience from a range of fields, including law, history, social work  journalism, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and public policy. Participants discussed questions about how to frame human trafficking in ways that reflect the range of experiences, rather than simple victim narratives, and also examined why the current frame is being used in media portrayals, by the government, and by advocacy organizations.  The group also discussed changing intervention strategies, including the role of law and technology. Participants recognized that more work needs to be done to understand the process by which some individuals are identified as trafficked while other similarly situated individuals remain in the category of illegal migrants.  In addition to interdisciplinary collaboration, participants agreed that there continues to be a real need for academic-practitioner collaboration in order to improve the accessibility and relevance of academic research, as well as to meaningfully influence public policy and public discourse on human trafficking.

Dec 052014
 December 5, 2014

re1598809_helfer_stilliman_retouchedKIE Senior Fellow Laurence Helfer was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Copenhagen for his work in the field of human rights and international law, including his work with sub-regional African courts. Helfer is the Harry R. Chadwick, Sr. Professor of Law at Duke Law School and also heads Duke Law’s Center for International and Comparative Law. The nomination for the degree came from Mikael Rask Madsen, who says:

Professor Helfer is a world leading expert in the field of human rights and international law. In recent years, together with several colleagues I have had the privilege of working with him. This collaboration has always been tremendously inspiring. Professor Helfer is not only a brilliant researcher and teacher but also an extremely dynamic person who engages himself in innovative projects that inspire the researchers and students around him.

Dec 042014
 December 4, 2014

campus-grants-400The Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Campus Grants program allows members of the Duke community to incorporate ethics into their own work. Grants of up to $500 are available to all members of the Duke community—students, faculty, and staff—to support initiatives that promote ethical or moral reflection, deliberation, and dialogue at Duke and beyond. Applications for the Spring 2015 grants will be due February 15.

Announcing the Fall 2014 Campus Grant Award Winners:

Reem Alfahad | DukeEngage/Proyecto Boston-Medellín 
Undergraduate artists from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede Medellín collaborated with DukeEngage students to develop an art exhibition that will tour the United States this spring, the fourth iteration of Proyecto Boston-Medellín (PBM). The team will bring these artists to Duke to engage campus with a transnational, multilingual artistic conversation on the ethics of artistic autonomy, story telling, movement with the story, and reclaiming narratives.

Jonna McKone | MFA Program in Experimental and Documentary Arts
McKone, a second-year MFA student, is creating a site-specific sound installation in Siler City, NC, that is an extension of a multi-year film project that documents people laboring in low wage jobs after the unexpected shuttering of a region’s long-time industry. Through interweaving oral histories, historical text, lost and found sounds from the region, the experimental audio documentary explores socioeconomic isolation in rural areas and the distancing effects of globalization. 

Jenna Strucko | Center for Documentary Studies
The founders of Kao Jai Coffee—a single-origin coffee company that directly sources coffee from Thailand farmers at a farmer-satisfied price—will visit campus to discuss the implications of incorporating ethical structure into a for-profit business plan, as well as how the practical applications of an ethically driven business model function in day-to-day operations and business development.

Avery Waite, Sierra Smucker, Dr. Kristin Goss | Sanford School of Public Policy
The team’s study, “Millennial Women’s Attitudes Toward Gender-Based Organizing,” aims to understand why women’s organizations seem less appealing to younger women than to their foremothers. The team will conduct 100 in-depth interviews interested to highlight the similarities and differences in the perspectives of women from different educational backgrounds.