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 face the changing educational experience 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 UN 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 UN 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 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, adopted in 2011. Panelists also debated the potential of the proposed UN 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 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.

Aug 012014
 August 1, 2014

re1365607_ariely_hiresThe Re/code site details a new iPhone app designed by Timeful, a startup started by Senior Fellow Dan Ariely, and Stanford’s Jacob Bank and Yoav Shoham. The app integrates a user’s current calendars with suggestions for when the best times might be to tackle certain kinds of tasks.

“Our objectives are to take every moment and think about what is the best use of that moment in a holistic framework,” said Ariely. “It’s a non-zero sum game. We think you can use time better.”

Aug 012014
 August 1, 2014

Christine-BaderWriting for the Harvard Business Review, Nonresident Senior Fellow Christine Bader examines the NLRB’s decision that fast food giant McDonald’s could be held jointly liable for labor and wage violations by its franchise operators.

McDonald’s should apply to franchisees a model similar to the one it uses for its suppliers: The company engages in long-term relationships with suppliers to make it clear that they’ll work together on tough issues, not just issue fines; brings suppliers together periodically to learn from each other; and rewards innovation. A combination of internal staff and independent auditors ensures compliance and supports these efforts.

Jul 152014
 July 15, 2014

BrethertonWriting for the Christian Century, KIE Senior Fellow and Religions and Public Life program leader Luke Bretherton argues for a new approach to moral discussions of drug use. When drugs like marijuana become legalized, how does one make the religious argument against its use?

Many Christians assume that smoking or ingesting marijuana is necessarily and in all instances immoral, but at the same time they seem prepared to bow to its inevitable legalization, while muttering about how such a turn of events is one more sign of growing secularization. The counterconclusion I draw from the above analysis is that certain kinds of drug use in certain kinds of contexts may well be morally licit—but that this licit use depends on a set of cultural possibilities unavailable, at least on a large scale, within our consumerist cultural environment.

Jul 152014
 July 15, 2014

richmanWriting for the New England Journal of Medicine, KIE Senior Fellow Barak Richman (Law) co-authored an examination of defined-contribution versus defined-benefit plans and problems with proposed legislation to  change how Medicare is funded and operated.

Despite its appeal, the Wyden–Ryan plan had a fatal flaw: it proposed to base the government’s defined contribution on current Medicare costs and to increase the contribution at an annual rate of 1% above the growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) — a generous contribution, from a public perspective, since it would outpace economic growth. But whereas the GDP has historically grown at a rate of approximately 2.5% annually, Medicare has grown at a rate of 8.2% annually over the past 15 years.

Jul 032014
 July 3, 2014

ICJChristine Lillie, a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience with the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ MADLAB, recently spoke at the Hague on her research connecting the revenge-fueled speeches of Vojislav Seselj, a nationalist Serbian politician, to conditions of mass violence and genocide. Seselj is currently on trial for his actions during the wars in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

For more information on her project and its implications for future trials, see Duke Today’s article. Visit the Moral Attitudes and Decision-Making at KIE site to learn more about all of the MADLAB’s current researchers and projects.