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 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.

Mar 152015
 March 15, 2015

Scholars-SymposiumThe Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University is calling for submissions to its first annual Undergraduate Scholars Symposium. The symposium, which is sponsored by the Kenan Human Rights Fellows, is an opportunity for seniors at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill to publicly present any honors or capstone project that broadly relates to the themes of human rights, ethics, or international politics. Projects can be written or artistic works. Students will present short summaries of their work in a conference-style setting. Distinguished faculty and alumni, as well as current students, will be invited to serve as discussants. This event is open to both Duke and UNC faculty, students and alumni.

The symposium will take place on Saturday, April 18th from approximately 1:00-3:30 at the West Duke Building, Room 101, Duke University. A reception will follow.

Acceptance into the symposium is competitive. Applicants are asked to submit a 2-3 page extended abstract of their project. Please include the project’s 1) motivating research questions, 2) methods, 3) conclusion, and 4) overall significance to human rights, ethics, or international politics.

Applications are due Wednesday, April 1st at 5:00pm to Wendi Jiang, For any questions regarding the symposium or submission requirements, please contact Suzanne Katzenstein,

Mar 152015
 March 15, 2015

Undergraduate Research Award in Regulatory Governance
Application Deadline: Friday, April 3 at 5:00PM

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

3)     Letter of Recommendation
Applicants should also request a letter of recommendation from their thesis advisors, to be emailed directly to

Application materials are due to Amber Díaz Pearson by 5:00PM Friday, April 3, and awards will be made by April 17.

Mar 112015
 March 11, 2015

Collaboratory-logosA new endeavor funded by the four William R. Kenan, Jr. Funds is looking to capitalize on the strengths of North Carolina’s leading institutions of higher education with collaborative projects that emphasize the state’s role as a nexus for innovative research, teaching, and problem-solving. The “Kenan Creative Collaboratory” is part incubator, part collaboration, and part laboratory. It is currently seeking proposals for projects that will draw participants from at least two of the four universities that house Kenan institutes, including Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

The “collaboratory” will fund and support projects that will work to address challenges that exist in North Carolina, the nation, and the world. The long-term impact of the projects will come from sharing resulting findings and policy recommendations as well as problem-solving models for how the projects could be replicated or adapted in other places or spheres.

The support will not only foster and expand existing partnership networks and collaborations among the universities, but also find new points of contact and a way of envisioning how to take those collaborations further. Projects must relate to at least two of the institute themes: private enterprise; engineering and technology science; ethics; and the arts. Projects may last 1-3 years with support ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 with flexibility.

Project proposals are due April 1, 2015 at 5:00pm. See the Request for Proposals (PDF) for full information.

Mar 052015
 March 5, 2015

edward_balleisenThe Graduate School at Duke recognized Ed Balleisen, Program Director for Rethinking Regulation at KIE, with a Dean’s Award. Balleisen is joined by seven other recipients, professors and graduate students, who have been recognized for their work in mentoring, teaching, and promoting diversity in graduate education. Balleisen’s work with the Institute includes teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in regulatory ethics and serving as a team leader on a Bass Connections project. Read how past undergraduates from Balleisen’s course have used their regulatory knowledge through internships.

Dean Paula D. McClain and The Graduate School will be holding a reception to honor the recipients of this year’s awards on Wednesday, March 25, from 4:30–6:30 p.m., at the atrium of the Fitzpatrick Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine and Applied Sciences. To attend, please RSVP by March 18.

Mar 032015
 March 3, 2015

Leena-400The Clinton Global Initiative addresses social challenges and each year hosts Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), bringing students together with experts and thought leaders for a multi-day meeting.  Senior Leena El-Sadek will join more than a thousand college students attending this year’s meeting at the University of Miami on March 6-8.

Students from colleges all over the country are invited to submit applications that include a “commitment to action” outlining a project the student will start up to combat a global problem. El-Sadek is an alumna of DukeImmerse: Uprooted/Rerouted, and helps manage the Supporting Women’s Action (SuWA) organization, housed in the Kenan Institute for Ethics, uniting Duke students with local female refugees. Sadek’s proposal would create “Conflict Cookbook,” compiling recipes and personal narratives of refugee women who have fled conflict areas. It is meant to facilitate relationships, combat stereotypes, and showcase the skills of a marginalized group within America. Only a handful of the “commitment to action” proposals are selected for funding, and El-Sadek is a semi-finalist. Additionally, her proposal is one of only two which have been selected for presentation within a session.

El-Sadek is eager for the opportunity to engage with students from around the world, and share her experiences with the SuWA program, adding: “What I’m really excited about is the one-on-one conversations I hope to have with the students from the UK, or from Nepal, or California, who are all working on similar refugee issues. Though we’re miles — and oceans — apart, we’re bridging ideas and projects in hopes of moving our communities and our world forward.”

Mar 022015
 March 2, 2015

East-snowfall2015Due to winter weather throughout the semester, certain events have been cancelled or postponed. Below are all of the rescheduled events:

Laws that Learn: Adaptive Regulation of Pharmaceuticals, Mar. 6 (Previously scheduled for Friday, February 27)
Professor Kenneth Oye(MIT) and Professor Arti Rai (Duke) will discuss the challenges and opportunities in shifting the way the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and its counterparts around the world, regulate pharmaceutical products. Can and should we move from a one-time decision to approve a drug in general, to a sequential process of partial approvals with continued monitoring and learning over time? How can our regulatory systems incorporate continued learning, as new technologies and their impacts emerge? This event is one in the “Laws that Learn” seminar series, co-sponsored by the Center for Innovation Policy at Duke Law, the Rethinking Regulation Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke.

Ethics Film Series: Buena Vista Social Club, Mar. 16 (Previously scheduled for February 24)
Buena Vista Social Club (dir. Wim Wenders, 1999) tells the story of aging Cuban musicians whose talents had been virtually forgotten following Castro’s takeover of Cuba and how they are brought out of retirement by Ry Cooder, who travelled to Havana in order to bring the musicians together. The collaboration results in triumphant performances of extraordinary music, and resurrecting the musicians’ careers. The film will begin at 7:00pm  in the Griffith Film Theater in Duke University’s Bryan Center, followed by a Q&A session with Recent Grammy winner Eric Oberstein, Associate Director of Duke Performances; Heather Settle, Director of Academic Engagement, Global and Civic Opportunities in the Office for Global Ed.; and David Font-Navarrete, Lecturing Fellow in the Thompson Writing Program!

Shavar Jeffries | Ethical Leadership: Self-Sacrifice as Public Service, Mar. 23  (Previously scheduled for January 27)
The Kenan Institute for Ethics is hosting practitioner in residence Shavar Jeffries, a Duke alumnus and partner at the law firm Lowenstein Sandler and civil rights lawyer. He will give a free public talk focusing on the challenges of leading large groups – how do you determine what people want? How do you balance what you think is right with other, often narrow, interests? Jeffries was previously an associate professor at Seton Hall University School of Law. From 2008 to 2010, he was assistant state attorney under Attorney General Anne Milgram, where he supervised several divisions, including the Division on Civil Rights, the Juvenile Justice Commission and the state’s multi-state litigation and advocacy portfolio. He also recently ran as a mayoral candidate in his native town of Newark, New Jersey. His visit is co-sponsored by the Hart Leadership Program.​

Practitioner in Residence: Jon Favreau, Apr. 21
The significance of meaningful and effective words cannot be overrated, especially when a critical message is needed to stand out in a 24/7 news cycle and break through the constant noise of social media.  Jon Favreau—director of speechwriting for President Barack Obama (2009-2013)—knows this all too well. Favreau will give a free public talk titled “Words Matter: Storytelling with President Obama in an Age of Sound Bites.” Public parking is available in the Science Drive Visitor Lot and the Bryan Center Lot and Deck. This visit is jointly presented by the KIE Practitioner in Residence Program and the Humanities Writ Large Network on Democracy and Law: Ancient and Modern. Co-sponsors include the Sanford School of Public Policy and the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy.


Feb 272015
 February 27, 2015

WIGA-2015Promo-400Team Kenan, the group of undergraduate students who plan and facilitate programming around campus, will be holding the annual “What is Good Art?” exhibition around the theme “derivatives.” Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges, with select contributors receiving cash prizes. Participants must be current Duke students, and may submit up to two works, including paintings, drawings, textiles, photographs, or mixed media. Applicants should fill out the online submission form for each work, including a brief statement and digital image, by 11:59 pm on March 16th, 2015. Full submission details may be viewed or downloaded (pdf).

First Prize: $500
Second Prize: $300
Third Prize: $100
Gallery Choice Prize: $100

An opening reception for the exhibition will be held in the Keohane – Kenan Gallery on March 30th, 2015.

Feb 242015
 February 24, 2015

SuzanneKIE Associate Director Suzanne Shanahan is currently acting as chair of the Duke Curriculum Committee. Duke Today published a summary of her presentation to the Arts and Sciences Council with updates on initial findings by the exploratory committee:

As part of the committee’s vision for the curriculum, Shanahan said there has been some consensus that a Duke should provide a true liberal arts education with robust disciplinary majors as a centerpiece.

In addition, a Duke education “should be an invitation to a scholarly community that excite both faculty and students,” Shanahan said. “We want students doing things they haven’t tried before, but it should also have a deliberate cohesion: A little adventure and a little coherence.”

She added: “A Duke education should reflect the fact that Duke is a research-based education. Duke should look different than Swarthmore.  Now, the goal here is not for faculty to just to produce ‘Mini-Mes’. However, the goal is to invite students into a pursuit that we love and show them the promise of what scholarship offers.”