Apr 232015
 April 23, 2015

A new program of the Kenan Institute for Ethics (KIE) aims to combat stereotypes of what strong, ethical leadership looks like, thanks to a generous gift from Danny and Nancy Katz. The Katz Family Women, Ethics and Leadership Fund will allow the Institute, in partnership with the Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics (COLE), distinctive opportunities for students to engage and learn from visiting leaders whose insights can help them navigate their way in the world, drive understanding, and inspire greater self-awareness around issues of image, communication, values, and overall confidence.

Danny, T’80 is a member of the KIE Advisory Board and helped start Apex Capital in Orinda, California. Nancy is a coach with the Life Mastery Institute. They live in the San Francisco Bay area and have two children, Justin and Liza, T’15. They shared the following thoughts on what led them to initiate this program:

We are thrilled to be able to help the Kenan Institute be able to fill in an aspect of a Duke education we feel is not currently readily available to undergraduates. By joining with the already established COLE program, we can ensure that undergraduates and graduates have equal access and deep engagement with established leaders in various fields of endeavor, particularly successful women. The goal of this program is to enable Duke students to gain further awareness and understanding of what is required to rise above traditional stereotypes while still maintaining their confidence as they venture into the world beyond Duke.

We have supported Duke for over 25 years because it is a place focused on excellence in so many ways. Kenan has more recently attracted our attention and enthusiasm because it is integrally involved with topics that are not covered in typical coursework. The result of this moral emphasis allows students to be more compassionate and understanding, which in our opinion is a very worthy cause.

Apr 232015
 April 23, 2015

FavreauDuke400What would it be like to hone speechwriting skills working with a partner who is arguably one of the greatest orator presidents in American history? On Tuesday, April 21, Jon Favreau answered that question during a public talk at Duke University, “Words Matter: Storytelling with President Obama in the Age of Sound Bites.”

In 2005, Favreau began working for then U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, and in 2007 he became Obama’s director of speechwriting. Favreau continued in that position until leaving the White House in 2013, at age 32. He then co-founded Fenway Strategies, a messaging and media consulting firm.

During his talk at Duke, Favreau identified five major lessons he learned during his time working closely with the president.

  1. The story is more important than the words: avoid chasing catchy slogans in favor of focusing on the overall argument.
  2. Humor is important: take your job seriously, but not yourself.
  3. Talk like “a normal human being”: leave out shorthand and jargon to be accessible.
  4. Be honest and authentic: focus on your passions, not what you think others want to hear.
  5. Maintain idealism: cynicism and hope are both choices, so choose hope.

Favreau also shared meaningful experiences through personal anecdotes, such as a phone conversation with Ann Nixon Cooper, a 106 year-old civil rights veteran. The purpose of the call was to discuss her inclusion in the 2008 election speech. The connection was so meaningful that Favreau said he hid under his desk as polling results were coming in just to have a few more minutes with her on the line.

Audience members were invited to ask Favreau questions directly. He addressed the challenges of learning another person’s voice and the importance of real collaboration between writers and speakers.

On dealing with negative criticism, such as vitriolic tweets during speeches, he advised to always learn more and improve yourself, but when you make a decision, let the chips fall where they may.

Favreau’s visit to Duke was hosted by the Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Humanities Writ Large Network on Democracy and Law: Ancient and Modern. The visit included informal discussions and a writing workshop with undergraduates earlier in the day. His talk was co-sponsored by the Sanford School of Public Policy and the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy.

For more information on his visit, read the Storify collection of social media responses.

Apr 202015
 April 20, 2015

SuzanneK-listening-400The word “genocide” has become commonplace, and readily conjures news images of atrocities. The term itself was coined in the 1940s, when Raphael Lemkin defined it as “the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group,” a term created to “denote an old practice in its modern development.” But even today the use of the term is not straight-forward. Indeed, one of the events Lemkin wrote about, the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman government, is widely considered by historians to be the first modern genocide. But officials in modern Turkey still refuse to identify the deaths in this way.

These troubling gray areas have been the subject of an interdisciplinary research team of Duke undergraduates, graduate students, exploring “The Language of Genocide and Human Rights.” It in many ways brings the idea full circle, as Lemkin spent time at Duke University before penning those famous words. The project is funded by Humanities and Writ Large and the Silver Family Kenan Institute for Ethics Fund in Support of Bass Connections.

Laura Roberts-400It culminated in a recent conference held at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. The team, together with invited experts, looked across different historical periods, geographic areas, and cultures to examine what constitutes genocide, the ways in which the use of the term is contested, the power of international response or silence, and the way in which internal propaganda can fuel ethnic violence.

The final panel of the day featured presentations by four undergraduate researchers Sophia Durand, Matthew King, Laura Roberts, and Savannah Wooten. Their presentations explored topics such as the role of radio broadcasts in the Rwandan genocide and the way in which the Cold War effected the implementation of the Genocide Convention, to issues revolving around the UN Security Council, such as when veto power conflicts with the Responsibility to Protect and language patterns used within the council in which opposing viewpoints describe the same conflict as genocide or civil war.

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.