Apr 142015
 April 14, 2015

Hr-Reg-Essay-WinnersFour Duke students competed for the first ever Kenan Institute for Ethics undergraduate essay prize in regulatory ethics and human rights. A collaboration between the Rethinking Regulation program at KIE and the Duke Human Rights Center at KIE, the contest was focused on issues surrounding the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. The students (two working as a team) were selected as finalists and presented their essays to a panel of judges including Allan Freyer (Director, Workers’ Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center), Steven J. Lerner (Founder and Managing Partner, Blue Hill Group), and Layna Mosley (Professor of Political Science, UNC Chapel Hill). The awards are as follows:

First Place (Tie)
Emily Feng (T’15): “Preventing the Next Rana Plaza: Challenges and Opportunities in the Age of Global Supply Chains”
Diana Tarrazo (T’17): “The Rana Plaza Collapse: Policy to Prevent a Race to the Bottom”

Ava Jackson (T’15) and Joseph Wu (T’15): “The Rana Plaza Collapse: An Analysis of the Bangladesh Labor Laws”

Apr 142015
 April 14, 2015

Scholars-SymposiumThis year, The Duke Human Rights Center at The Kenan Institute for Ethics is holding its first annual Scholars Research Symposium on Saturday, April 18th. The symposium, which is sponsored by the Kenan Institute’s Human Rights Fellows, provides an opportunity for a select group of seniors at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill to publicly present honors or capstone projects that broadly relate to the themes of human rights, ethics, or international politics. Discussants will include two distinguished Duke alumni, Tosin Agbabiaka and Menaka Nayar, and two current human rights fellows. This event is open to Duke and UNC faculty, students and alumni. The students will present on topics ranging from corporate responsibility and international justice to the effect if displacement on religious faith and other issues effecting refugees.

The presentations will begin in room 101 of the West Duke Building at 1:00pm and will be followed by a reception. Free parking will be available in the Gilbert-Addoms circle off of Campus Drive. View our event post for a schedule of presentations and information on the presenters and panelists.

Apr 102015
 April 10, 2015

re1598809_helfer_stilliman_retouchedIn comments for the New York Times, KIE Senior Fellow Laurence Helfer (Law) discusses his work on a team that recently submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court in advance of arguments regarding same-sex marriage scheduled to occur this month. Both the brief Helfer’s team filed in support of same-sex marriage equality and another filed by a team with the opposite argument focus on looking to the global landscape for a sense of other countries’ stances on the issue.

The U.S. Supreme Court should be guided by those nations, whatever their number, that invoke core U.S. constitutional principles of equality, liberty and due process to recognize same-sex marriages.

Apr 062015
 April 6, 2015

Noah-newKIE director Noah Pickus wrote for the Duke Global Education blog on his experience teaching a global citizenship module at Duke Kunshan University as part of a course being team taught together with Suzanne Shanahan and Wayne Norman. He discussed ways in which the teaching experience in China differed from here at Duke, and praised the level of debate and engagement.

The students held a wide range of views on [issues of democracy and citizenship] – far more so than in a typical U.S. class – and the discussion benefitted greatly from these differences. At times, the conversation was difficult, as the students sought to practice the ground rules of civility that they had established for their group. Although the students were especially careful to ensure that those more fluent in English did not dominate the conversation, there was little of the elaborate rituals I have observed in U.S. classrooms via which students work hard to ensure that no one is offended. The discussion, too, went beyond the merely analytic. The students talked about what these ideas meant to them personally. They described the outcome of these debates as if they mattered to their own lives.

Apr 062015
 April 6, 2015

richman1Writing for the News & Observer, KIE Senior Fellow Barak Richman (Law) breaks down arguments that pit freedom of religion against civil rights that have spring forth around laws being proposed in many states. He says that the proposed North Carolina Religious Freedom Restoration Act works against the balance of the First Amendment’s establishment and free exercise clauses.

The bill before the North Carolina legislature, by design, would empower and encourage parties to invoke religious differences into a much wider category of disputes, including any civil or commercial disputes that should not involve religious freedoms. A debtor might refuse to pay a corporation because the money might be used in a way that would offend the debtor’s religious conscience. Conventional property disputes between neighbors would invite religious liberty defenses. To be sure, many of these legal claims might be frivolous, but many will emerge from deeply held and sincere religious convictions. Yet courts will have to scrutinize each one.

Apr 012015
 April 1, 2015

Haft-Poetry-400This summer, twelve rising juniors and seniors from Durham high schools will take part in The Bull City Dignity Project, a documentary theater project of the Kenan Institute for Ethics based on the lives of Durham’s diverse community members. Led by a team of Duke University students and faculty, the cast of Bull City Dignity will spend the summer turning interviews with Durham community members into a work of community storytelling. Heading up the project are Duke undergraduates Mariana Calvo (a documentarian), Kari Barclay (director of Duke’s Me Too Monologues), and Lara Haft (slam poet and 2014 Kenan Summer Fellow).

High school students interested in joining the cast of writers and performers should email bullcitydignity@gmail.com with a 200-word description of their interest in the project no later than April 17th. The cast members will then be chosen by a combination interview and audition during late April. Teachers may nominate up to three students to join the Bull City Dignity Project; project members are available to talk with classes about the project.

During the summer, the project will also be looking for local Durham community members who are willing to share their time and their stories. Stay tuned to the project website for more details. The project is sponsored by the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the A.B. Duke Scholarship Foundation, and the Baldwin Scholars Program.

Apr 012015
 April 1, 2015

051213_bennear_balleisen_krawiec_wiener001In an opinion piece for the New York Times, KIE Senior Fellow Kim Krawiec (Law) discusses findings that corporate board diversity leads to negative business impact and compares United States quota-based board policies to their European counterparts.

U.S. board diversity advocates, even more than their European counterparts, will probably continue to invoke the business case, even though there is no evidence that board diversity produces these benefits. Diversifying the boardroom out of instrumental business imperatives is apparently more politically palatable than doing so because it’s the right thing to do.

Mar 242015
 March 24, 2015

dirk-philipsenWriting for Nesta’s The Long + Short, KIE Senior Fellow Dirk Philipsen makes the case that policy makers rely far too much on economic growth metrics that don’t make sense.

Restricted to the measure of market transactions, GDP fails to account for anything outside the market – from air and water to poor people and future generations. Social inequality is no more a line item in GDP than, say, quality of goods, purpose of work, or opportunities for our children. In the face of mounting crises – all directly connected to growth – this represents an odd disconnect.

Philipsen has a forthcoming book on the topic, The Little Big Number: How GDP Came to Rule the World, and What To Do About It (Princeton University Press, May 2015).


Mar 192015
 March 19, 2015

Undergraduate Research Award in Regulatory Governance

The Rethinking Regulation Program at KIE is pleased to announce an undergraduate research award competition to support students conducting thesis research related to the areas of regulatory governance, broadly speaking.

Awards of up to $500 each will be made.

Application Instructions:

1)      Research Proposal
Interested students should submit a brief (no more than 3 pages) research proposal that:

    • describes the thesis project,
    • specifies the project’s connection to the study of regulatory governance,
    • explains the amount of funding needed and the specific ways in which funds will be used.

2)     Transcript
Applicants should send an official digital transcript via ACES to amber.diaz@duke.edu.

3)     Letter of Recommendation
Applicants should also request a letter of recommendation from their thesis advisors, to be emailed directly to amber.diaz@duke.edu.

Application materials are due to Amber Díaz Pearson by 5:00PM Monday, April 13, and awards will be made by April 20.

Mar 182015
 March 18, 2015

The Kenan Institute for Ethics offered one of Duke University’s “Alternative Spring Breaks” for 2015, giving undergraduates the opportunity to examine unaccompanied child migration into the United States. Between October 2013 and July 2014, 57,000 children were processed by Customs and Border Protection at the Southwest border.  This is more than double the number of children apprehended the previous year. Aiming for a better understanding of the situation, six students travelled to South Texas to meet with immigrant families, volunteers, legal advocates, a journalist, and government officials. They learned the challenges for legal migration in general and particularly for children that cross the border without their families.

First year Reed McLaurin chose to join the trip due in part to his experience last fall with the Focus cluster on Ethics, Leadership & Global Citizenship, and also he felt “deeply uninformed on the intricacies of the child migrant crisis that dominated headlines last summer.” Of his time on the trip, he said “speaking with migrants as they continued their journeys, listening to the stories of the lawyers who defend them, seeing the border that separates our country from México—they were all incredibly powerful moments. I can’t quite explain it, but there is just something about having a tangible relationship to an issue that helps you understand how the pieces of the puzzle fit together.”

Button-FocusA highlight of the experience was a landmark meeting with all four regional consuls from Central America (Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras), who themselves were meeting together in the same room for the first time. In exploring what has caused this sharp increase, the students discovered that the crisis has many interrelated causes, from stunted economic development and the drug economy to family reunification the threat of gang violence.

Border-fence-400The students worked side by side with volunteers of the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, who provide naturalization assistance as well as providing food, shelter, and clothing for immigrants and their families. They also spoke with lawyers involved with two pro bono organizations, the ProBAR Children’s Project and Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), aimed at helping unite child migrants with family members already in the United States and advocating for their rights within the system. Most of the children are actually seeking to join their families who are already in the United States, and families are sometimes forced to pay human traffickers in an attempt to bring their children across the border.

Maura Smyles, another first year undergraduate, says she not only gained “a much deeper understanding of the child migrant crisis,” but was so inspired by the work of the lawyers they spoke with that she is now planning to pursue a career as a legal child advocate.

Christian Ferney, Student Program Manager at the Institute, accompanied the students and says that the opportunity to understand this issue from the perspectives of migrants, legal representatives, and foreign governments provided “the multidimensional approach that is central to how we think about ethics at the Institute.” He also said, “I think one of the values of these kinds of trips is the opportunity to really live in the complexity of a situation.”

Button-ConferenceThe trip built on a February conference which gathered a diverse group of scholars, legal experts, and field practitioners. You can read a brief summary of the conference on our website.