Nov 192014
 November 19, 2014

The Big Think quoted MADLAB member and Post-Doctoral Associate Nina Strohminger on her research into how we judge attractiveness by moral behaviors.

Moral features are the chief dimension by which we judge, sort and choose social partners. For men and women alike, the single most sought-after trait in a long-term romantic partner is kindness – beating out beauty, wealth, health, shared interests, even intelligence.

Nov 182014
 November 18, 2014

SuzanneKIE associate director Suzanne Shanahan recently spoke with Duke Today on her role as leader for the new Imagining the Duke Curriculum Committee. On the need for this exploratory committee, Shanahan says:

The intellectual rationale – although sound – is not broadly understood.  Advisers, faculty, students don’t get it, and it’s hard for them to articulate the purpose behind it. Michael Hardt [literature professor on the curriculum committee] told me that if the only thing that happens in this process is that people understand how and why this works, and what we’re doing here, that would be good.

Nov 182014
 November 18, 2014

Noah-newIn Time Magazine, KIE director Noah Pickus recently weighed in on the future of immigration reform in light of President Obama’s plans for executive action on the issue:

“The tough nut is to actually create a package in which both sides feel some real pain — and neither the President nor the Republicans have been willing to do that. The Republicans’ response to the President’s acting on his own will take us back through another endless Kabuki theater of policy-making rather than moving us into a new venue to see a new kind of play.”

Nov 182014
 November 18, 2014

UnaccompaniedChildMigrationThis symposium, hosted by the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke, is comprised of sixteen participants; three are presenters, upon whose work the symposium is based, and the others are discussants. Approximately five of the discussants are selected through a national call for participants.  The symposium takes place on February 22-23, 2015. It begins informally on Sunday evening, meets on Monday, and concludes in time for afternoon departures. The featured speakers present for forty-five minutes and then engage with the discussants and the audience. The event is free and open to the public.


Jacqueline Bhabha is Director of Research at the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University; Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health; and the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer in Law at Harvard Law School. Her most recent book is Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age (Princeton University Press, 2014).

Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco was founder of the Harvard Immigration Project and of Immigration Studies at New York University. He is currently Distinguished Professor and Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. His many publications include the co-authored Learning a New Land: Immigrant Students in American Society (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008).

Susan J. Terrio is Professor of Anthropology and French Studies at Georgetown University. Her forthcoming book, Whose Child Am I? Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody (University of California Press, 2015), is based on research in twenty-six federal facilities and programs for unaccompanied child migrants and on observation of proceedings in fifteen immigration courts.


Faculty interested in participating as discussants may apply by sending a brief letter stating the relevance of the symposium to research interests and a one-page biographical note or two-page curriculum vita. The deadline for receipt of these materials is January 5, 2015; decisions will be announced shortly thereafter. Please send your materials to David Steinbrenner,, using “Discussant Proposal” as the subject line. Discussants are not paid an honorarium or travel expenses but upon arrival are guests of Duke University (including hotel accommodations and meals). Discussant proposals in the humanities are particularly welcome.


Please address any questions to Frank Graziano, Frank Graziano is a Humanities-Writ-Large Visiting Faculty Fellow at Duke University and John D. MacArthur Professor of Hispanic Studies at Connecticut College.

Nov 132014
 November 13, 2014

Noah-newKenan Institute for Ethics director Noah Pickus recently traveled to Hong Kong and mainland China as part of Duke’s Liberal Arts in China Committee. The group is looking at the current liberal arts landscape, including Peking University and NYU-Shanghai, as part of the development of Duke Kunshan University’s curriculum. In a reflection for Duke Global Education, he writes:

Across Asia, there is an explosion of interest in the liberal arts and in ways to introduce creative thinking about science and technology, arts and humanities, and social science and policy. Every school we visited – from leading institutions like Peking University to recent entries like NYU-Shanghai – has created an entirely new set of core courses ranging from Global Studies to Making History.

Nov 112014
 November 11, 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.

Read a profile of one of the 2014 Graduate Research Award winners: Jonathon Free.

Oct 302014
 October 30, 2014

Regulation-courseStudents interested in pursuing a career in public service, whether within government institutions or with an NGO, can take an interdisciplinary course to prepare them for their work and to be more informed and aware citizens.

The course takes a historical perspective on the evolution of modern regulatory states, with an emphasis on independent research. Throughout the Spring 2015 semester, the course will examine the dynamics and consequences of regulatory decision-making across various issue domains: rate-setting for public utilities; oversight of the financial system to prevent/mitigate crises; and consumer and environmental protection.

This course was first offered last spring, and several of the students were able to apply lessons learned to summer internship experiences with law, entrepreneurship, and rights advocacy. Read their reflections on their work in and out of the class for a sense of their experiences.

The Modern Regulatory State
History 365D/Pub Pol 219D/Political Science 340D/Environ 365D/
Tues-Th, 1:25-2:40; Section on Mon, 10:05-11:20 or 1:25-2:40

Oct 302014
 October 30, 2014

Class-400Register Now for Spring Course: “Business and Human Rights Advocacy Lab”

What does it mean to be a human rights advocate? This course explores this question with a focus on the exciting, rapidly evolving area of business and human rights. Student teams will work on research projects for outside organizations, such as the UN, NGOs based in India, and multinational companies that are in the process of developing human rights policies. Examples of broad issues that students might work on include child and forced labor, efficacy of voluntary vs. binding rules for corporate conduct, “best practices” for labor rights, and the role of the financial sector and human rights. These collaborative, hands-on projects introduce students to a range of critical policy skills, including legal research, designing and mapping project goals and implementation, client interviewing and, most importantly, writing reports and policy briefs for partner organizations.

In addition to policy projects, class readings and discussions will focus on core debates in the business and human rights field, as well as key ethical challenges of human rights advocacy: What are and what should be the human rights obligations of multinational corporations? Which advocacy strategies have worked in promoting corporate accountability, and which have backfired?  What are the risks and strategic benefits of civil society-corporate partnerships? How should human rights advocates confront the ethical challenges involved in promoting corporate accountability in foreign, and, especially developing, countries?  This course is available for writing, research and service learning credits, and is limited to 10-12 students. Permission of instructor is required. For more information, please contact: Suzanne Katzenstein (

Business and Human Rights
ICS 317S, Ethics 301S, PolSci 341S;
Requirements Fulfilled: Seminar, EI, R, W, Service Learning

Oct 282014
 October 28, 2014

Sinnott-ArmstrongFor the Slate online series “Are We Free?” KIE faculty Walter-Sinnott Armstrong examines the notion that neuroscience undermines free will. He examines several theories on determinism and causality, and discusses how work in the lab can help determine the relationship between mental activity and physical movement. He also mentions the limitations to what we can accurately study:

Moving your hand in a laboratory experiment is very different from moving to a new home. Hence, it is not legitimate to infer from any of these experiments to any conclusion about choices and actions that last long with much at stake. In these more meaningful cases, our conscious wills still might come earlier than our bodily movements.

Oct 272014
 October 27, 2014

Bass-KIEBass Connections at Duke University is accepting proposals for project teams for the coming academic year. Bass Connections supports interdisciplinary teams of collaborators, providing undergraduates with the opportunity to join faculty, graduates students, and post-docs. These teams work on problem-based research around the themes of brain & society; information, society & culture; global health; energy; and education & human development.

Additional support is available for projects through the Kenan Institute for Ethics. 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. Descriptions of the current KIE-Bass joint projects may be found at

This year, the Franklin Humanities Institute is also offering additional support to the Bass Connections themes for projects that feature historical perspectives, diverse language processes and products, or aesthetic dimensions of reflection.  Applicants from any field are encouraged to develop humanities-related connections, regardless of departmental home.  The FHI will facilitate connecting with potential partners to constitute interdisciplinary teams with a humanities dimension.  Please see this Bass Connections “Brain & Society” theme “Art, Vision, and the Brain” team video for inspiration:

Proposals must be submitted by November 7, 2014 for priority review. Proposals will be reviewed, refined if necessary, and selections will be made by December 16, 2014. Projects selected may begin as early as Summer 2015 and must begin in the 2015-2016 academic year.

Download the proposal form (Word) or (PDF).