Jan 192017
 January 19, 2017

When Edward J. Balleisen launched the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Rethinking Regulation program in 2010, he was already deep into research on a history of business fraud in the United States.  Through a series of interdisciplinary conversations, research collaborations, and engagements with journalists and policy-makers made possible by Rethinking Regulation, he developed new questions and perspectives on that research.

ed balleisen-fraud book-coverThen, in early 2014, KIE sponsored a day-long manuscript workshop for Balleisen, which brought together scholars from across the Triangle and from disciplines ranging from history, political science, sociology, and economics to philosophy, neuroscience, and law, as well as North Carolina’s Deputy Attorney General for Consumer Protection. Feedback from the workshop was crucial as Balleisen crafted the final version of his newly published book, which pieces together a modern history of fraud, its far-reaching impacts on America, and the regulatory policies put in place to contain it.

In “Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff,” Balleisen, an associate professor of history and public policy and vice provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke, weaves stories of dishonesty and efforts to limit deceptive marketing going back to the early 19th century. He explores challenges of social trusts in a modern, capitalist economy and investigates what makes consumers and investors vulnerable to fraud.

“Fraud is a perennial problem for any capitalist society,” Balleisen said. “We tend to go through periods of generational amnesia about regulatory structures that we put in place after sufficient recognition of the costs associated with widespread fraud, but there’s always a tradeoff. To enact policies that tend to restrict opportunity for deception means inevitably restricting opportunity for competitive sales practices. In moments when economic stagnation becomes an abiding concern, policy-makers tend to pull back on the regulation of deception.”

Finding an appropriate middle ground, Balleisen noted, can be difficult in a country with a longstanding history of facilitating and promoting innovation. The freedom provided to entrepreneurial firms that offer new products, services, and ways of doing business inevitably generates cases of financial and consumer fraud, he said.

“It’s also sometimes hard for people to agree about what is fraudulent in the first place,” Balleisen said, especially in the midst of rapid changes in the business environment.

For more information about Balleisen’s book, “Fraud: An American History from Barnum to Madoff,” visit its page on the Princeton University Press website.

Jan 172017
 January 17, 2017

Scholars-SymposiumThe Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University is calling for submissions for its second annual Scholars Symposium in Human Rights, Ethics, and International Politics. The symposium, which is sponsored by the Kenan Global Human Rights Scholars, is an opportunity for seniors at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill to publicly present any honors or capstone project that broadly relates to the themes of human rights, ethics, or international politics. Projects can be written or artistic works. Students will present short summaries of their work in a conference-style setting. Distinguished faculty and alumni, as well as current students, will be invited to serve as discussants. This event is open to the public, and particularly for faculty, students and alumni of both Duke and UNC.

The symposium will take place on Saturday, April 8th in the West Duke Building, Duke University East Campus. 

Acceptance into the symposium is competitive. Applicants are asked to submit a 2-4 page extended abstract of their project. Please include the project’s 1) motivating research questions, 2) methods, 3) conclusion, and 4) overall significance to human rights, ethics, or international politics.

Proposals are due Wednesday, March 1st at 5:00pm to Kate Abendroth.


Jan 162017
 January 16, 2017

From Feb. 6 to the 9, Jamie Kalven will be a visiting Kenan Practitioner-in-Residence with the Cover-Ups project at KIE. Mr. Kalven is an investigative journalist who has done groundbreaking reporting on police abuse and corruption in Chicago, including exposing the truth about the police killing of Laquan McDonald. More recently he has written the four-part series for the Intercept, “House of Cards: How the Chicago Police Department Covered Up for a Gang of Criminal Cops” and worked with the Exoneration Project to overturn wrongful convictions of citizens associated with the cover-up. Two individuals have been released so far, which one member of the Exoneration Project remarks is the “just tip of the iceberg.” Mr. Kalven is also founder and executive director of the Invisible Institute, which has the central mission to “enhance the capacity of citizens to hold public institutions accountable.”

Mr. Kalven is also the founder and executive director of the Invisible Institute, which has the mission to “whose mission is to enhance the capacity of citizens to hold public institutions accountable.” His work extends beyond issues of police abuses, and has focused on Chicago’s inner city housing projects. He has created a program of “grass roots public works” to provide alternatives for ex-offenders and gang members and has worked to establish new human rights monitoring strategies.

During his week-long visit, Mr. Kalven will engage students, faculty, and the community about his work. He will meet with a number of undergraduate and gradate groups, as well as with faculty working group on cover-ups. He will participate in a “Conversation in Human Rights” panel with investigative journalist for the News and Observer Mandy Locke on Tuesday, Feb. 7th at 4 p.m. at Duke Law School, room 3037, and participate in a community workshop.

He will give a public talk, “Police Abuse and Accountability: The Struggle for Police Reform in Chicago,” On Wednesday Feb. 8, in Gross Hall 103 (West Campus), beginning at 6:30 pm.

Jan 112017
 January 11, 2017

NM_JP_Planet400The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics a four-year grant of $550,000 to support a multidisciplinary exploration of humanity’s place in an Anthropocene world. The project will be led by Norman Wirzba, professor of theology, ecology, and agrarian studies at Duke Divinity School and a senior fellow at the Institute, and Jedediah Purdy, Robinson O. Everett Professor of Law at Duke Law School.

The “Rethinking Humanity’s Place in an Anthropocene World” project will seek to transform and redirect academic disciplines so they can better prepare communities to meet the health, sustainability, and justice challenges of the Anthropocene, the current geological age in which human activity has been the dominant influence on Earth’s geology and ecosystems. Questions of theology and law are intended to provide a dual, orienting focus while drawing in perspectives from a wide range of other disciplines.

Read the full initial release here. More information will be available on this site in the near future.

Jan 012017
 January 1, 2017

Submission deadline: Friday, January 27, 5:00pm

The Rethinking Regulation Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics invites graduate and professional students to apply for research awards. Recipients are current, or will become, members of the Rethinking Regulation-Graduate Student Working Group (RR-GSWG), which provides a forum for student-led interdisciplinary discussion, research, and analysis of issues related to regulatory governance. RR-GSWG members represent a variety of Duke disciplines/programs and are united by a common interest in regulatory governance and a shared commitment to interdisciplinary collaborative inquiry in the service of society.

Read the full call for proposals and submission instructions here.

Dec 212016
 December 21, 2016

Sinnott-ArmstrongOn December 21st and 22nd, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong will appear on The Triangle’s Afternoon News with Scott Briggaman on NewsRadio WPTF to discuss the impact of the North Carolina Legislature’s most recent actions regarding the controversial House Bill 2. Briggaman’s two-part conversation with Sinnott-Armstrong will air at 3:42pm and 5:42pm, starting Wednesday and concluding Thursday locally on 680AM and online.

Nov 212016
 November 21, 2016

Twitter_BlindDuke Postdoctoral Fellow Jordan Carpenter has recently published an article on stereotypes of Twitter users based on the content of their tweets. In an innovative study, Carpenter asked participants to guess the gender, political identity, age, and education of a person based on a single tweet. While participants were more likely to guess gender, politics, and age correctly, they performed worse than chance on education.

“An accurate stereotype should be one with accurate social judgments of people,” but clearly every stereotype breaks down at some point, leading to “mistaken social judgement,” Carpenter said.
Read the full article here.

Nov 172016
 November 17, 2016

KRP_Launch400_revThe Kenan Institute for Ethics launched the Kenan Refugee Project website with an event on December 2nd.

In addition to housing information about the Institute’s portfolio of refugee-related programming in one place, the site features easily accessible information about the status of refugees around the world; refugee oral histories, and archived editions of the weekly InFlux newsletter.

Click here to visit the new Kenan Refugee Project website.