Oct 062015
 October 6, 2015

149310g_bennear004On the Knowledge @ Wharton podcast and Sirius XM radio broadcast, KIE Senior Fellow and Rethinking Regulation co-director Lori Bennear spoke with Wharton legal studies and business ethics professor Sarah E. Light on the topic of Shell Oil Company’s recent decision to stop exploratory activity off the shore of Alaska. Listen to the entire conversation now or read the article on the Knowledge @ Wharton site.

If Alaska is no longer in play and we’re just looking at the Gulf of Mexico, I expect there to be increasing pressure on the administration to open up more parts of the Atlantic.

— Lori Bennear, Associate Professor of Environmental Economics and Policy at the Nicholas School of the Environment

Oct 062015
 October 6, 2015

Bass-KIEBass Connections, Duke’s university-wide interdisciplinary initiative, seeks proposals for problem-based, vertically integrated research teams for 2016-2017. For the third year, the Kenan Institute for Ethics is partnering with Bass Connections to offer additional support for new project teams, thanks to the Silver Family Fund. In addition to aligning with the Bass Connections themes of brain & society; information, society & culture; global health; energy; and education & human development, these projects must have an ethical dimension, preferably with a connection to one of KIE’s five program areas in Human RightsGlobal MigrationRethinking RegulationMoral Attitudes and Decision-Making, and Religions and Public Life.

Another aspect of the KIE-supported research teams will be a public symposium on the project’s topic. Explore this year’s KIE/Bass supported projects or previous projects to see examples of the kinds of projects that fit the joint funding criteria.

Proposals must be submitted by November 6, 2015 via the online application for priority review. 

  • Proposals will be reviewed, refined if necessary, and selections will be made by December 18, 2015.
  • Projects selected may begin as early as Summer 2016 and must begin in the 2016-2017 academic year.
Oct 062015
 October 6, 2015

Alexa-400On Monday, October 5, the Science, Ethics, Identity and Human Rights (SEIHR) Kenan Creative Collaboratory hosted a screening of The Living Disappeared: Using DNA to prevent the trafficking of children on the border. The documentary was created by Duke and KIE alumna Alexa Barrett as part of her thesis project in International and Comparative Studies last year. The film includes interviews with adults who crossed the border as children, scientists hoping to expand the use of DNA testing, and those working on the front lines to reunite trafficked children with family members.

The Duke screening occurred in advance of Barrett showing the film at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where she will be joined on a panel by Sara Katsanis (co-director of SEIHR and instructor at The Duke Initiative for Science & Society), Oscar Martinez (a Salvadoran journalist), and Thomas Parsons (director of forensic sciences at the International Commission on Missing Persons).

Title-400SEIHR is one of three new projects fostered by the Kenan Institute for Ethics uniting researchers from across the state to tackle issues of local and national significance. Katsanis, her co-director at NCSU Seth Faith, and their team aim to connect pioneering research in forensic sciences to social science research in ethics for human identification, using this bridge as a backbone for opening dialogues on policy approaches to employing science for human rights.

Oct 052015
 October 5, 2015

Moral PurposeEach year, the Moral Purpose Award essay contest asks Duke University undergraduates to reflect on how their time in college has allowed them to explore, struggle, and discover more about themselves. A joint effort with the Parr Center for Ethics at the University of North Carolina, one student essay from each school is chosen each year for the $1,000 award. The Parr Center held their competition in the spring, and now we are asking for essay entries from any currently enrolled Duke undergraduates.

Essays of between 500-800 words should address either or both of the following questions:

  • In what ways have your core beliefs and larger aims been tested, transformed, or confirmed during your time in college?
  • How have you had to defend or challenge prevailing ideas, social norms or institutions and what lessons have you learned from doing so?

For more information on the award, including examples of past winning essays and more information, visit the Moral Purpose Awards page. Submissions must be emailed to Cece Mercer at cecelia.mercer@duke.edu by 11:59pm on Sunday, November 15.

Oct 022015
 October 2, 2015

Global-HR-ScholarsTen undergraduates have been selected from a rich applicant pool for a new program out of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. The Global Human Rights Scholars will explore over the course of the year human rights activism and scholarship, including the ways in which they are often divided and when and how it is best to integrate them. The scholars will create their own research topics, meet with human rights scholars and practitioners, and more.

Congratulations to the selected students:

Michael Bleggi
Ekim Buyuk
Rinzin Dorjee
Bochen Han
Ebony Hargro
Kalif Jeremiah
Coleman Kraemer
Laura Roberts
Amulya Vadapalli
Jenna Zhang

Sep 292015
 September 29, 2015

125115_tippett_0029On Monday, September 28, Duke University welcomed Krista Tippett, a journalist and author best known as the producer for the radio show, podcast, and website On Being. Tippett spoke on “The Adventure of Civility” as the 2015 Kenan Distinguished Lecturer, an annual speaker series of the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke.

Leading in, Tippett said she rushes to add qualifiers like “adventure” to the word civility, because she fears that it “has connotations of niceness and tameness and politeness, things far too mild to be an antidote to our current political culture.”

Throughout the talk, she addressed the need to have difficult conversations, and to engage with those with whom one doesn’t agree in personal and human ways. These are the types of conversations she fosters on her radio show and podcast, which invites diverse voices to tackle issues that challenge the heart of American life, such as religious extremism and the prejudice it espouses, or the polemics of debates on when life begins (or should end).

Krista Tippett, a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster, producer of the podcast and website On Being, and New York Times bestselling author, speaks on “The Adventure of Civility” for the 2015 Kenan Distinguished Lecture on Monday, September 28th at the Nasher Museum of Art.On technology, Tippett observed that while this social connectedness can lead to a performative behavior, it also provides an opportunity to link our vulnerability and our capacity for innovation in ways that are intimate and immediate.

She noted that in the aftermath of recent tragedies, such as the events on 9/11, or after mass shootings, that there is a call and a desire for social healing, moral imagination, and civil discourse that has not been met. She challenged all in the audience to be intentional and meaningful in their questioning, and to bring that thoughtfulness to big, messy, provocative, and thrilling conversations that transcend predictable, dead-end debates.

In speaking of social healing, she said that we must create spaces where you can sit, acknowledge, and be with pain that has been caused, to contemplate and grieve the wrong, rather than simply orient around action.

Overall, she presented a message of hope, insisting that humankind can “live our way to the answers together.”

For a timeline of the event with live tweets, see the collected social media on Storify. For more photos of the event, visit the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Facebook album.

Sep 292015
 September 29, 2015

Whole-panel-400The Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics held this year’s first event in the ongoing “Conversations in Human Rights” series on September 23, focusing on the topic of CEO activism on social issues.

Panelists included John Replogle, the CEO of Seventh Generation (formerly president and CEO of Burt’s Bees) and Professor Edward Freeman, originator of the stakeholder theory and faculty member at UVA’s Darden School of Business. The discussion was moderated by Aaron Chatterji, professor at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

The panel addressed what seems to be a growing trend in corporate leaders advocating for social change, and the blend that occurs between personal activism and a business’s
brand. Apple’s Tim Cook has been vocal on both issues of privacy and same-sex marriage, while Starbucks’ Howard Schultz recently took heavy criticism for the attempted “#RaceTogether” campaign.

Replogle talked about the current business climate as being one that is incredibly dynamic, and a time when many companies are examining the “why behind the buy.” Many companies strive for what is called the triple bottom line (social, environmental, and financial), and compete for B-Corporation status.

Speaking from personal experience, Replogle remarked that an activist CEO needs to careful, thoughtful, and consistent, to partner with NGOs and community organizations wherever possible, and to figure out what you stand for and build a board that will get on board with that mission.

Freeman iterated that we need a “new narrative” for business, one that isn’t merely
rofit-drive, but is imaginative and allows people to make mistakes. He said that capitalism has the potential to be the greatest system of social cooperation ever invented. But in order to create this new capitalist narrative, business leaders must lead in the purpose of others and make that purpose and those values alive in their everyday decisions.

Following the panelists presentations, audience members and panelists discussed how and why CEOs choose to speak out on certain issues, what percentage of companies are actually changing their behavior, and the differences in practices between publicly-listed and privately-held companies. Panelists and participants discussed some of the ways in which business and law schools could shift understandings about the private sector – both through curricular revisions and by clarifying that companies’ legal obligations are not simply to their shareholders


Sep 292015
 September 29, 2015

Harpham-400This year, the Kenan Institute for Ethics welcomes Geoffrey Harpham as a new visiting scholar and senior fellow. Trained as a literary scholar, Harpham most recently served as the president and director of the National Humanities Center, based in Research Triangle Park, from 2003-2015. We recently asked Harpham about his transition to Duke and plans with the Institute.

What drew you to Duke University and to the Kenan Institute for Ethics in particular?

Since coming to this area in 2003, I’ve grown to love it and to feel at home here. I’ve come to know many Duke faculty who were Fellows at the National Humanities Center, in addition to President Brodhead, who serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Humanities Center. And my son is a 2010 Duke graduate who and served for three years as a Young Trustee. So I already had many connections to Duke, and was very pleased to have the opportunity to join the faculty. The Kenan Institute for Ethics probably fits me better than a traditional department. I’ve always been interested in the subject of ethics, and have written a good deal on the relation of ethics to literary study. But my interests have broadened since I was an English professor at Tulane and Penn, and the Kenan Institute, which has a more diverse and worldly mission than most academic departments, enables me to explore a wider range of issues than I would in any other setting.

What are some of the projects or aspects of your work here that excite you?

Right now I’m teaching a wonderful group of students in the “American Experience” cluster of the freshman Focus Program. It’s a course called “American Dilemmas” that explores a series of issues in American life—self-reliance, education, wealth and inequality, race, sex, and justice—by looking at novels, social science, films and other kinds of material. Right now, we’re in the “Self-Reliance” part of the syllabus, which includes Emerson’s essay by that name, parts of de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, the classic Gary Cooper movie High Noon, and the famous—or infamous—book by Stanley Milgram called Obedience to Authority. In the spring, I’ll be teaching an Ethics course called “Narrative and Moral Crisis.” Ethics is an excellent focus for an undergraduate seminar-style class because discussions of the course material can provoke the kind of personal reflection that is so valuable a part of the college experience.

I believe that education itself should be an ethical experience, that it should help people think about what they value and why. The humanities can, I think, foster this kind of experience more effectively than other disciplines, because their subject matter is the archive of human creative activity, which reveals human cares and concerns. There is no better mirror than the past.

In what ways do you anticipate that your work with the National Humanities Center will enrich your academic work here at Duke and at the Institute?

First, the experience of having worldly responsibility for the health and growth of an institution, through the lean years as well as the fat, has given me a real appreciation for the institutions that survive, and

for the leaders who see to it that they do. Secondly, the fact that my institution was dedicated to the humanities meant our support had to come from just a few friendly foundations and individuals. I was always trying to enlarge the circle, of course, but my main concern was to make the argument for the humanities and for my institution in a way that those few people could understand and value. Directness, clarity, and commitment were the primary virtues, not subtlety, cleverness, or erudition. Interestingly, the individuals I found myself speaking to were often quite idealistic about the academy, education, and especially about the humanities.

In a university setting, idealism is often taken as a sign of naïveté, but I came to believe that it often reflected a deeper kind of wisdom, one that had to be understood and respected, not just because we depend on those people for their support, but also because education is an idealistic undertaking, one that engages our hopes for the future. In my work at Duke and at Kenan, I’ll try to communicate this sense of things.

Sep 222015
 September 22, 2015

MADLAB retreat F15-400MADLAB is a vertically-integrated, interdisciplinary laboratory, co-directed by Phil Costanzo (Psychology and Neuroscience) and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics), where faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and undergrads work together on shared research projects and meet regularly in their shared lab space here at the Institute to discuss their work. For the second year in a row, lab researchers gathered for a weekend retreat featuring a guest researcher. This year, they were joined by Molly Crockett, Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow at Oxford University. Crockett studies the neuroscience and psychology of altruism, morality, self-control, and economic decision-making in healthy people and in psychiatric disorders. She takes an interdisciplinary approach, combining methods from social psychology, behavioral economics, neuroscience and philosophy.

Sep 152015
 September 15, 2015

KIELogo-gray400The Kenan Institute for Ethics invites proposals for up to $20,000 for new, interdisciplinary scholarly projects in ethics broadly conceived. The CFP is open to projects with at least three regular rank faculty at Duke University, and aims to generate new confluences of collaborative faculty scholarship both in fields of long standing scholarly import and in emerging areas of ethical inquiry. Proposals grappling with any significant ethical or normative questions from any discipline are encouraged to apply. Theoretical and empirical and projects both welcome. Proposals might be for ongoing discussions, working groups, workshops, symposia or direct research expenses.  Proposals that have the greatest potential for the development of a new long-term scholarly research agenda and that include robust graduate student engagement will be prioritized.

For more information, see the CFP (pdf). Proposals must be submitted by September 30 and a faculty review committee will make decisions by October 15.