Feb 252015
 February 25, 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.

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.”

Feb 232015
 February 23, 2015

Whole-Room-400On Monday, February 23, the U.S. Department of Justice issued an emergency stay, keeping alive President Obama’s immigration reform despite efforts by a U.S. District Judge in Texas to block it. This is just the most recent development in an ongoing, partisan battle over immigration reform spurred in part by last year’s exponential growth in the immigration of unaccompanied minors from Central America.

The ruling was announced as the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke hosted a symposium on the issue of unaccompanied child migration, bringing together several key scholars and advocates as well as attracting a capacity crowd of students, activists, case workers, and researchers. The symposium, organized by Humanities Writ Large Fellow Frank Graziano, focused mainly on immigration into the United States from Central America and the Global South. In countries such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, violence at the hands of competing drug cartels has reached unprecedented levels. At the same time, there are few resources to fund and support child protective services in these nations, and most minors who enter the U.S. illegally are looking for escape through work opportunities or to reunite with family members.

Among the issues brought to light by the symposium’s speakers and discussants was the policy of mandatory detention, through which unaccompanied children are treated as adults and kept in privately operated detention facilities, sometimes with no end date. There is no clear path for legal residency, even though many detainees are long-term residents of the U.S. many unaccompanied children survive predatory abuse including rape and assault during their entry into America, only to be deported back to countries who lack the resources to address their needs. Even for children who are able to be reunited with their families, many have not seen their parents in several years, and the adjustment can produce tensions that end in homelessness for the youth. The demand for illegal drugs in America that fuels the chaos that forces Central Americans from their home countries also draws in migrant youth with limited opportunities. If they get caught in gang activity and are convicted of criminal charges, they are automatically deported.

panelists-smilesSuggestions for ways to improve the system included better oversight of privately managed detention facilities; providing more avenues for legal residency, including broadening who classifies as a refugee; increasing methods for searching out family members for unaccompanied minors; and providing better resources for their care. It was also suggested that advances neuroscience, which have illustrated that the development of the adult brain takes longer than previously thought, should be used to help guide policy, particularly for a category of adolescents who are so vulnerable and often victimized.

Panelists shared a commonly heard argument against increasing resources for illegal child immigrants — that those resources should be used for American children who are in need. But the United States has legal obligations through international treaties to protect immigrants in addition to ethical responsibilities. While the plight of these children and adolescents is often viewed as an “invisible problem,” it was mentioned that this issue has been in the news constantly. One panelist noted that there is a jarring conflict between the American middle and upper class obsession with parenting and childhood and the attitude that these immigrant children are disposable, or at best, a problem to be fixed.

For archived social media posts, visit the Storify for this event.

Feb 162015
 February 16, 2015

RRT-Donor-Chain.-400A young family in the Philipines gained a new lease on life due to a partnership between a Duke Law professor, a Canadian doctor, and the Nobel Prize winner who connected them. Jose Mamaril recently became the first recipient of a kidney through “reverse transplant tourism,” a way to combine complex donor chains in the United States with patients in developing countries.

This cross-border donation system began as an idea brought by Dr. Michael Rees, a transplant surgeon at University of Toledo Medical Center, to an interdisciplinary conference funded by the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke, organized by Kim Krawiec, Kathrine Robinson Everett Professor of Law and Philip Cook, Professor of Public Policy, Economics and Sociology.

The conference attracted scholars in medicine, law, economics, sociology, and philosophy, including Alvin Roth, a Nobel Prize winning economist with experience in organ donation patient matching systems. It was Roth that connected Rees with Krawiec. Of the partnership, Krawiec says “innovation in transplantation raises a lot of legal issues. I was interested in many of the same questions Mike was exploring — why is exchanging a kidney for a kidney an acceptable trade while trading a kidney for money is not?”

Organ donation allows those with kidney failure to avoid the costly and cumbersome process of continued dialysis. Altruistic donor chains allow willing donors to be paired with recipients of matching blood types. Many times a patient may have a spouse or family member willing to donate, but are incompatible with their loved ones. Rees performed the first extended, altruistic donor chain in 2006.


Together, Krawiec and Rees tackled the issue of reverse tourism, publishing an article that puts the pieces in place to take the idea into practice. On January 6, Rees performed the first procedure of this type, bringing Jose Mamaril to Ohio to receive a new kidney. This required both $150,000 in private donations for travel and medical costs and a well-organized donation chain. Mamaril’s kidney transplant came from a donor in Georgia; in exchange, his wife Kristine Mamaril donated her kidney to a recipient in Minnesota, who had an incompatible willing donor. The kidney from this willing donor was then sent to a recipient in Seattle.

Krawiec is optimistic of the way in which reverse tourism transplants will be able to transform lives. “It’s really rewarding to see one of your academic papers translated into a real world practice. We’re hopeful that this innovation will make a difference, not only in the lives of poor patients around the world, but for those in the U.S. who have waited years for a transplant due to the lack of a compatible donor.”

She warns, however, that the opportunities available through reverse transplant tourism cannot rely on philanthropy alone. “We need the insurance companies and Medicare – who save tens of thousands of dollars from each reverse tourism transplant – to fund this and other transplant innovations in order to really make a dent in the ever-growing wait list.”

Feb 092015
 February 9, 2015

campus-grants-400How do we talk about ethics? If you are a student or employee of Duke University or the Medical Center who is planning a project that will enhance ethical dialog on campus, such as a food truck installation that draws attention to food workers’ lives, a study on self-esteem and well-being on campus, or a visiting speaker from an NGO, then apply to the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Campus Grants program by midnight on Sunday, February 15 midnight, Friday February 20th.

Grants of up to $500 are available to all members of the Duke community—students, faculty, and staff—to support initiatives that promote ethical or moral reflection, deliberation, and dialogue at Duke and beyond. Grant applications must include budget projections and a concise description of the proposed project. For more information and to download the application form, visit dukeethics.org/grants.

Feb 032015
 February 3, 2015

Reg-Bass-DukeForwardAs part of a Duke Forward event in Dallas on January 31, the Rethinking Regulation Bass Connections team on “Regulatory Disaster Scene Investigation” spoke about their research and its policy implications to an audience of Duke alumni.

Among their top recommendations for regulatory agencies were:

1) Stay independent from involved parties

2) Be transparent

3) Stay neutral

4) Monitor and publicize policy outcomes

Feb 032015
 February 3, 2015

Johnson-performanceThe DHRC at KIE Human Rights Fellows recently organized a special performance of local choreographer, activist, and dancer Tony C. Johnson’s “Embodying History Through Movement.” The work explored the struggles of slavery and the fight for equal rights in the 20th century. A photo of the performance was featured on the Document Duke 360º blog.

Document Duke 360º, is a collaboration between Duke Photography and the Center for Documentary Studies asking students, alumni, faculty, staff, visitors, or members of the Durham community to share their photographs and tell their own story about Duke. Each day, a photo is selected for the archive. For more information on how to submit, visit the Document Duke 360º website.

For more photos from the performance and panel discussion, visit the photo album on the Kenan Institute for Ethics Facebook page.

Feb 022015
 February 2, 2015

KSF-400This summer, the Kenan Institute for Ethics will be supporting it’s fourth round of undergraduate summer projects that explore “what does it mean to live an ethical life?” Between five and six students may apply to receive up to $5,000 to fund their project, with additional funds for the faculty mentor working with each student. Last year’s projects included field interviews with survivors of racial segregation in Alabama and Cape Town, South Africa and an evaluation of ethical field training provided to volunteers with faith-based aid agencies working in Uganda. Other projects have used documentary photography to capture a Greenlandic town grappling with the costs and gains of an impending minerals mine, examined what living an ethical life means to South Sudanese immigrants in America, studied ethical standards in the pharmaceutical industry, and more.

Hard copies of applications, including a three-page proposal and signed recommendation from the faculty mentor, must be hand-delivered to the Kenan Institute for Ethics main office by end of day on February 13th. Visit the Kenan Summer Fellows page for full application instructions, links to past fellows’ journals, and more information.

Jan 292015
 January 29, 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.

Jan 272015
 January 27, 2015

Dhaka_Savar_Building_Collaps-400eCALL FOR PAPERS
The Kenan Institute for Ethics Prize in Regulatory Ethics and Human Rights

Where are we now? Evaluating changes in regulatory and business practices in response to South Asian garment factory disasters

The Kenan Institute for Ethics Prize in Regulatory Ethics and Human Rights is an essay competition for undergraduate students interested in business ethics, workplace safety and regulation, and human rights. This year’s policy focus is the regulatory responses to the collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24, 2013, which caused the deaths of over 1,100 people and injured 2,500 more. Located in Bangladesh, the eight story building housed several factories that churned out cheap clothes for stores around the world — including retailers like Walmart, JC Penney, H&M, and Benetton. Rana Plaza sparked protests around the world as workers and human rights activists pushed for greater corporate responsibility and government oversight of the garment industry.

Approaching the two year anniversary of the tragedy, where are we now in regulating this industry?

In an essay of 3000-5000 words, evaluate the effectiveness of the regulatory response to the recent South Asian garment factory disasters and the implications of these policies for human rights.

Essays may focus on the issues at hand from a variety of perspectives (enforcement, influence of non-governmental organizations, industry self-regulation, etc.), but must include both descriptive research and normative prescriptions.

Participants may submit papers individually or in teams of two students. Entries will be evaluated for their contribution to the communal research site (25%), and the quality of their final essay (75%). This contest is open to all Duke undergraduate students.


  • An initial information session will be held in Bostock Library room 042 at 8:00pm (pizza provided).
  • The deadline to register to participate in the competition is 5:00PM, Friday, February 13. To register, please fill out this online form.
  • There will be an open “office hours” session for registered participants to consult with the Duke Human Rights Center@KIE and Rethinking Regulation@KIE faculty and staff on Thursday, February 19 from 3:00-6:00PM.
  • Access to the research website and details regarding the office hours will be provided after registration is approved.
  • Essays will be due to Kate Preston by 5:00PM on Sunday, March 29.
  • The three finalists will present their analyses before a panel of judges at a public event on Monday, April 13, at 5:00PM in West Duke 101. Winners will receive cash prizes, their essays will be published on the Kenan Institute for Ethics website, and their policy recommendations will be distributed to relevant international organizations.

Email Kate Preston for more information.