Sep 302014
 September 30, 2014

Reg-RR-capThe Rethinking Regulation Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics invites graduate and professional students to apply for small research grants to fund the costs of research related to the analysis of regulatory governance, either for a pilot study that might turn into an eventual dissertation topic, or for an already formulated dissertation project. The Institute will furnish up to $2,000 per award, which must be used for research expenses (travel, purchase of research materials, etc.). In addition to the funding, the awardees will have the opportunity to engage with the Rethinking Regulation program’s interdisciplinary community of scholars and visiting professionals.

For more information and application requirements and instructions, visit the Graduate Research Awards page.

Sep 292014
 September 29, 2014

Biss EulaThe Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Center for Documentary Studies are excited to announce the establishment of a joint visiting writers series dedicated to presenting new, unique, and diverse voices in nonfiction literature.

​​The series will begin this fall on November 6 and 7 with National Book Critics Circle Award Winner Eula Biss​.

In ​her book ​On Immunity​: An Inoculation​just published by Graywolf Press, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire’s Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Susan Sontag’s AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected—our bodies and our fates.

​Biss’s visit will include a public reading and talk​ on Thursday, November 6, at 7 p.m. in the Nelson Music Room. Other activities include an undergraduate Team Kenan Do Lunch, staff book club visit, and a panel event at the Forum for Scholars and Publics. Stay tuned for more information.

The Visiting Writers Series will continue in the spring with a visit from Leslie Jamison, author of the New York Times bestselling essay collection The Empathy Exams.

Sep 262014
 September 26, 2014

The Human Rights Fellows program at the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics (DHRC at KIE) is a new opportunity for thoughtful and innovative undergraduate students with a passion for human rights scholarship and engagement. The Fellows program aims to provide selected students greater access to resources that support their inquiry into and promotion of human rights issues at Duke and beyond.

Admission into the Fellows program gives accepted students the opportunity to:

  • Advise the DHRC at KIE on human rights programming
  • Collaborate more closely with faculty involved in human rights research
  • Network with visiting human rights scholars and professionals
  • Incorporate their own human rights research and projects into more public arenas for discussion
  • Receive up to $500 for human rights research

Fellows will be required to attend weekly meetings, as well as events hosted by the DHRC at KIE.

Applicants may be freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Applications will be accepted until October 6 at 11:59pm. Applicants may also be contacted for interviews. Approximately 10 students will chosen by a committee of faculty and staff at KIE. Applicants will be notified of their admission decision approximately by October 10. Any further questions about the Fellows program or the application process should be directed to Suzanne Katzenstein, Project Director of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics (

The Human Rights Fellows program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics Application

Instructions: Please answer all questions, and do not exceed the word limit. Email applications to Suzanne Katzenstein, by October 6 at 11:59pm.

  1. What is your name, year at Duke, email, and phone number?
  2. The guiding motto at the Kenan Institute for Ethics is “Think and Do.” When it comes to human rights issues, are you more of a “think-er” or a “do-er”? Please provide specific examples. (max. 250 words)
  3. Describe your participation in a team setting. What is your typical role? How do you contribute to the team? Please provide specific examples. (max. 250 words)
  4. You are given free reign to design an event about a human rights issue at Duke. Describe your event conceptually and how you would implement it. (max. 250 words)
  5. What else would you like us to know about you? (max. 100 words)




Sep 252014
 September 25, 2014

Mastery2014Activities for this academic year have officially begun for KIE’s two student-run projects in partnership with local refugee families to empower local refugee youth and women. Both programs are ongoing efforts begun by undergraduates as a way to continue community involvement initiated as part of the DukeImmerse: Uprooted/Rerouted program. The MASTERY program (Mentorship, Academics, and Self-esteem: Tutoring and Engaging with Refugee Youth) connects K-12 youth with Duke students who mentor and inspire younger students by sharing their own passion for learning. The SuWA program unites local refugee women in support of each other as well as providing skills and assistance such as English language tutoring. An acronym for Supporting Women’s Action, the program has grown quickly over the last year and is currently working toward helping establish local business enterprises. Each of the programs will be meeting regularly on Tuesday evenings.

How to get involved

Duke students interested in mentoring local youth or local refugee families who wish to register school-aged children should contact Cece Mercer:

Local refugee women who wish to participate in SuWA may contact Leena El-Sadek: Duke students interested in becoming English tutors should contact Leah Catotti:

Sep 172014
 September 17, 2014

SuzanneDuke’s undergraduate curriculum was last revised in 2000, before programs like DukeEngage, DukeImmerse, and Bass Connections began to create new pathways and opportunities for so many undergraduates. After an initial informal inquiry, Arts and Sciences is launching a three-year exploratory committee aimed at revising the curriculum to reflect the changing educational landscape for Duke students. The committee is chaired by KIE Associate Director Suzanne Shanahan. The full scope of the project is outlined on Duke Today.

Describing it more as a “big tweak” than an overhaul, Arts and Sciences Dean Laurie Patton laid out three goals of the process: 1) Clarify and simplify the logic of the curriculum; 2) Create more opportunities for exploration and creativity in the curriculum; 3) Rethink Duke’s vision of disciplinary education.

Sep 162014
 September 16, 2014

Panel-sideview 400x300The issue of corporate responsibility and human rights has increasingly become a focus of public debate and media attention. What is the most effective strategy for encouraging corporate respect for human rights? Should the United Nations move forward with the proposed treaty on transnational business and human rights, or should it focus on implementing current voluntary codes of conduct?

These and many other questions were explored September 10th during the first of this year’s Conversations in Human Rights, focused on business and human rights. Sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the series presents different issues with commentary from leading scholars and experts.

Panel participants for this event included Professor Fritz Mayer (Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke), Professor Aseem Prakash (Political Science, University of Washington), and Dr. Puvan Selvanathan (Head of Food and Agriculture at the U.N. Global Compact).

The panel explored the effectiveness of the U.N. Global Compact, a voluntary initiative covering corporate practices with respect to the environment, labor, human rights, and corruption, as well as the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, adopted in 2011. Panelists also debated the potential of the proposed U.N. treaty to motivate corporate compliance and promote discussion of business and human rights issues.

One of the main challenges highlighted by panelists and members of the audience concerned how to properly ensure that best practices are followed throughout complicated global value chains – and specifically how to incentive big firms to facilitate compliance by smaller producers down the chain who may already be under significant production pressure. Panelists discussed whether an information model or enforcement model is better suited to improve corporate practices across the global value chain.

The panel, moderated by DHRC at KIE Project Director Suzanne Katzenstein, also addressed questions from the audience.

Sep 162014
 September 16, 2014

Lamb-FellowsA new fellowship residency at Duke University will examine efforts by regulators and industry leaders to avoid financial and environmental disasters, among others. Launched this fall, the George C. Lamb Jr. Regulatory Fellows connects students and faculty who examine how scholars, industry leaders and regulators can come together to solve issues at the intersection of business, ethics and regulation. The fellows are jointly hosted by Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics, Fuqua School of Business and Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.

Jennifer E. Miller, the program’s first fellow, is the founding director of Bioethics International and a lab fellow in the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. She also served as a consultant on task forces for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United Nations. Miller is an advocate for ethical practices in the pharmaceutical industry, including standards for clinical trials, informed consent and the implementation of clinical trials in developing countries. For Miller, the residency will provide an opportunity to continue her research on the ethics and lack of trust associated with “the way medicines and vaccines are researched, developed and made globally accessible.”

Miller will be joined in the spring semester by Umut Aydin, an assistant professor of political science at Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Chile, who specializes in competition policy. In addition to teaching and research opportunities, the fellows will collaborate with the interdisciplinary faculty network involved with the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Rethinking Regulation program. The program, led by history professor Ed Balleisen, convenes workshops with legislators and produces reports to advise regulators and affect policy change.

Balleisen notes that the fellowship “offers our scholars and graduate students the chance to engage with some of the sharpest new thinking on regulatory governance. It’s also a great opportunity to experiment with new interdisciplinary courses and deepen our collaborative research. We are very fortunate to have scholars of this caliber coming to Duke.”

Kenan Institute for Ethics director Noah Pickus added that the collaboration of Kenan, Fuqua and Arts & Sciences “is a testament to the way that ethics crosses disciplines and schools at Duke.”

The new fellows program is made possible by a gift from the late Elizabeth B. Lamb in honor of her husband, George C. Lamb Jr., the former chairman and chief executive of United Parcel Service. Lamb sought to make integrity and business ethics cornerstones of his leadership, under which the national and international networks were created that made the company into a global shipping giant.

Sep 132014
 September 13, 2014

Group-photo-400Seven undergraduates traveled to Dublin, Ireland this summer to participate in the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ DukeEngage program. For eight weeks, the students oriented themselves to problems faced by an ever-growing immigrant population in a country historically known more for emigrating citizens out than for attracting an international population. In addition to mentoring unaccompanied immigrant youth, each student worked with a community organization, NGO, or governmental office. These included New Communities Partnership, Educate Together, Refugee Access Programme, and the Dublin City Council Office for Integration. The students grappled with issues such as the ethics of empathy and what steps can be taken by governmental and community authorities to support a changing population.

For the students’ perspectives, read their reflections on their work and personal experiences as Americans of diverse backgrounds in Dublin.

Sep 112014
 September 11, 2014

Sinnott-ArmstrongWriting for the Center for Humans and Nature, KIE Professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong examines the moral difference between intentional and unintentional harm, using the Oscar Pistorius case and the Israel/Palestine conflict as examples.

…the technological advances of the modern world make it much easier to kill people by accident or mistake or by known-but-unintended side effects. These unintentional harms can be caused by sports cars, guns, and missiles—as in the examples above—but also by car accidents, toxic spills, fatty foods, and so on.

Aug 142014
 August 14, 2014

usury-course-400This fall, as part of the Religions and Public Life program at KIE, Luke Bretherton will be leading a seminar course:

Debt, Usury & Citizenship: A Comparative Political Theology

Tuesdays, 2:30-5:00pm

This course will compare the theologies of Judaism, Christianity & Islam in relation to debt and usury, in dialogue with contemporary economic thinking and policy on regulation.  What is the relationship between debt and citizenship? How are campaigns for responsible lending offering opportunities for interfaith activism? The course will be a window onto religious critiques of capitalism but also the co-inherence of the “economic ethics” and political theologies of Judaism, Christianity and Islam with the development of capitalism.