Oct 132017
 
 October 13, 2017

In a very timely special feature, the Chronicle of Higher Education considers  “Teaching the Idea of America”, Kenan Senior Fellow Geoffrey Harpham considers the crucial role of textual analysis to citizenship. In the essay, “The Essential English Department”, he notes, “If people did not learn the ‘rules of interpretation’ opinion would degenerate into a plague of fake news.”

http://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Essential-English/241119

Harpham’s recent book is What Do You Think, Mr Ramirez. He also directs the Ethics & Society Certificate at the Institute.

Oct 112017
 
 October 11, 2017
The Religions and Public Life interdisciplinary graduate student working group brings together ten students representing seven departments, four graduate and professional schools, and two universities (Duke and UNC). Focused on the theme of Minorities and Diasporas, participants meet monthly to workshop individual research projects, discuss new scholarship, and craft short commentary pieces connecting their expertise to current affairs. During the year, members will also conduct field research and present their work at conferences with research support provided by the Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Center for Jewish Studies.
Participants’ research topics include:

  • How religiosity affects whether members of ethnoreligious diasporas will support foreign policy interventions on behalf of their ancestral home states
  • Exploring how social workers understand and navigate the relationship of their religious belief and practice with their professional activities of providing care
  • Examining the contemporary black church as a diasporic institution through the specific case of the AME church in Latin America.
Lead Fellow Lea Greenberg notes, “It is natural to spend a great deal of time sealed in our ‘disciplinary bubbles,’ but sharing work across disciplinary boundaries provides a shift in perspective that can impel us to think critically about our work in novel ways.”
Learn more here.
Oct 022017
 
 October 2, 2017

There are benefits to being a stranger, because you see things differently from people who have been in that space for a while. The more time you spend in that space, the less you see things from [an] outside [perspective].
– Duke President Vincent Price

Vincent Price on the Team Kenan Couch.

Duke President Vincent Price speaks with Duke students about the challenges being an individual within a community, on the Team Kenan Couch.

This past week, Team Kenan’s ongoing Couch program partnered with Me Too Monologues, an annual performance of Duke students’ “intimate, personal experiences and explore narratives [on the topic of identity,] that would otherwise be silenced on campus.” Team Kenan set up the Couch on the BC Plaza to engage in dialogue with more than 100 Duke students, faculty and staff, over three days about their experiences with and thoughts on individuality and group identity within Duke’s campus culture; how tensions between curation of identity and authenticity, active and passive identity markers, and cohesion and diversity shape our community.

While many students spoke about a pervasive sense of pressure to keep their heads down and blend in, whether it stems from cultural background… “It would be easier to not be a person of color at Duke. But I’m not sure I would change it, if I could,” or the impact of ‘Effortless Perfection’: “I don’t talk about my shit to other people because Duke is stressful enough…”

Although 92% percent of the students who took part in the Couch conversations said that they had altered their personality, at some point during their time at Duke, in order to fit in, some lamented how Duke undergraduates “define themselves mostly by what they’re planning on majoring in, or the groups they’re involved with” and how easy it is to reduce their peers to broad generalizations “I don’t want to reduce people to their organization or Greek affiliation, but it’s low-hanging fruit of what to talk about,” all of which reduce our ability to empathize with others and detrimentally impact our decision making. Two-thirds of students we asked, said they felt they had no control over how others perceive them.

Conversations included how communities and environments affect us in ways that we don’t recognize until we’ve left them, “I had always thought of myself as Indian and not Indian-American, until I came here and went abroad,” while another, reflecting on her new viewpoint on adulthood, worried, “I feel like I’m turning into my mother.”

After some time spent deep in conversation on the Couch with Team Kenan, one student, echoing President Price, affirmed that the difficulty balancing of perspectives is vital to navigating life, “I think to live a full and meaningful life, you need [to affirm your identity and fit in with others]… If you don’t do either well, college is the best place to practice both.”

Oct 022017
 
 October 2, 2017

This week’s NFL protests are part of a long tradition of athletic dissent.  In a timely talk on human rights, dissent and the Muslim athlete, Zareena Grewal, associate professor of American studies and religious studies at Yale University, explored the meaning of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf’s (formerly Chris Jackson’s) decision in the 1990s to remain off-court rather than stand during the pre-game national anthem—a decision that ultimately resulted his suspension from the NBA. She compared Rauf’s journey of civil disobedience to the deep antagonism faced by former heavy weight boxing champion, Muhammed Ali in the 1960s for his comments on Vietnam and race.  Grewal also drew comparisons to the current controversy and national debate inspired by Colin Kaepernick. This talk was the first in a year-long series, American Muslims, Civil and Human Rights, co-sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center at Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Duke Islamic Studies Center. The next event will be on 10/11, with Khaled Beydoun, presenting Policing Muslim Identity During the Time of Trump. 

 

Oct 012017
 
 October 1, 2017

Lori Bennear, co-director of the Rethinking Regulation Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, has been appointed to a National Academy of Sciences committee tasked with reviewing the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Offshore Oil and Gas Operations Inspection Program.

The 13-member committee is comprised of a variety of scholars and experts who are charged with providing findings and recommendations to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement regarding its inspection program and goals over the next decade. In 2015, 16 percent of U.S. production of crude oil and 7 percent of natural gas withdrawals happened in federal offshore waters. The U.S. Geologic Survey estimates that 30 percent of the world’s remaining oil and gas reserves lie in the Arctic ocean, a significant share of which could be accessible from offshore drilling in U.S. waters off the coast of Alaska.

“From an ethics standpoint, the work of this committee is critical to help improve regulations to balance the sometimes-conflicting values of energy security and energy independence, with environmental protection and worker safety,” Bennear said.

A leading voice in research and scholarship assessing effectiveness of environmental policies and regulation, Bennear was also recently named Duke’s inaugural Juli Plant Grainger Associate Professor of Energy Economics and Policy. Her primary appointment is associate professor of environmental economics and policy at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, with secondary faculty appointments at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy and its Economics Department, along with serving as co-director of Rethinking Regulation.