Jul 152014
 July 15, 2014

BrethertonWriting for the Christian Century, KIE Senior Fellow and Religions and Public Life program leader Luke Bretherton argues for a new approach to moral discussions of drug use. When drugs like marijuana become legalized, how does one make the religious argument against its use?

Many Christians assume that smoking or ingesting marijuana is necessarily and in all instances immoral, but at the same time they seem prepared to bow to its inevitable legalization, while muttering about how such a turn of events is one more sign of growing secularization. The counterconclusion I draw from the above analysis is that certain kinds of drug use in certain kinds of contexts may well be morally licit—but that this licit use depends on a set of cultural possibilities unavailable, at least on a large scale, within our consumerist cultural environment.

Jul 152014
 July 15, 2014

richmanWriting for the New England Journal of Medicine, KIE Senior Fellow Barak Richman (Law) co-authored an examination of defined-contribution versus defined-benefit plans and problems with proposed legislation to  change how Medicare is funded and operated.

Despite its appeal, the Wyden–Ryan plan had a fatal flaw: it proposed to base the government’s defined contribution on current Medicare costs and to increase the contribution at an annual rate of 1% above the growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) — a generous contribution, from a public perspective, since it would outpace economic growth. But whereas the GDP has historically grown at a rate of approximately 2.5% annually, Medicare has grown at a rate of 8.2% annually over the past 15 years.

Jul 032014
 July 3, 2014

ICJChristine Lillie, a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience with the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ MADLAB, recently spoke at the Hague on her research connecting the revenge-fueled speeches of Vojislav Seselj, a nationalist Serbian politician, to conditions of mass violence and genocide. Seselj is currently on trial for his actions during the wars in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

For more information on her project and its implications for future trials, see Duke Today’s article. Visit the Moral Attitudes and Decision-Making at KIE site to learn more about all of the MADLAB’s current researchers and projects.

Jul 012014
 July 1, 2014

NTSB_Office-400The Rethinking Regulation Bass Connections project team for “Regulatory Disaster Scene Investigation” recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to interview officials with the National Transportation and Safety Board and the United States Chemical Safety Board.

Along with faculty project leader Lori Bennear, undergraduate student Kate Preston and graduate students David Cheang (Nicholas School), Jonathon Free (History),  Megan Hayes (Nicholas School), and Emily Pechar (Nicholas School) met with the officials to discuss  issues they have been researching, including a comparison of the two boards, an examination of their models in relation to European safety boards, and possible new means of accidental analysis, including the possibility of ad hoc commissions as incidents occur rather than the safety board model.

The students will incorporate the interviews with their research into working papers that look at the complications of risk analysis in addressing crises such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Jun 182014
 June 18, 2014

macdonaldIn an entry for the emtrainBLOG, KIE Nonresident Senior Fellow Chris MacDonald discusses the danger in businesses picking and choosing ethical issues to examine and address without looking at the bigger picture of decision-making. MacDonald is also Director of the Jim Pattison Ethical Leadership Education & Research Program, and Associate Professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management (Toronto, Canada).

May 292014
 May 29, 2014

News-BassDuke Libraries posted an update on their collaboration with the Rethinking Regulation faculty heading up the Bass Connections project “Regulatory Disaster Scene Investigation.”

This summer, students selected to the project team will travel with faculty leader Lori Bennear to Washington, D.C. While there, they will undertake a series of interviews with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Chemical Safety Board (CSB) officials, as a means of fleshing out their organizational culture, professional ethos, and sense of independence.



May 202014
 May 20, 2014

2014-MonologuesApril 19, a dozen undergraduate students gathered at the Nasher Museum of Art to present narratives of refugee life curated from information collected during their month of field research with Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Jordan.

The DukeImmerse: Uprooted/Rerouted program, a collaboration between the Office of Undergraduate Education and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke, is in its third year. It provides a semester of four interdisciplinary classes around the theme of forced migration in addition to service learning opportunities with locally resettled refugees and abroad.

A recurring theme among the refugees’ stories, students said, was their appreciation for an international audience. Many of the refugees struggle with their sense of personal and cultural identity because of displacement, and believe their voices and stories are often unheard.

The refugees told students about past experiences fleeing their home countries, their current situations in refugee camps and future plans. While both groups of refugees have been shaped by persecution and the trauma of displacement, their differences — in education, socio-economic background, and individual journeys — reflect the many facets of the refugee experience, students said.

In their home country, many of the Bhutanese refugees worked small farms in rural areas with few educational opportunities. They began to flee in the early 1990s because of government violence against civilians. As a distinct cultural group with strong ties to Nepali traditions, the Bhutanese government began to isolate them and deny them citizenship rights. The group eventually sought protection in United Nations-established refugee camps in Nepal. These camps have since become viewed as some of the most successful in the world, with more than 86,000 of the 108,000 Bhutanese permanently resettled to foreign countries since 2007.

Many of the Bhutanese refugees in the camps await resettlement in the United States. Some already have family members in America who have paved the way for them, including creating employment opportunities. First-year student Lily Doron shared the story of a 43-year-old tailor eager to become a partner in his brother’s tailoring business. While the Bhutanese cannot legally attain employment in Nepal, there is opportunity for those with particular skills or training.

According to Doron, the tailor said “customers, both refugees and locals, bring clothes to my hut. Most of my work is making clothes for people who are about to resettle. Many Bhutanese who have resettled say that clothes are expensive in the U.S.”

Many of the Iraqis and Syrians who have sought refuge in Jordan are educated and fled middle-class lives because of sectarian violence and political instability. Bordering Israel, Palestine, Syria and Iraq, Jordan has for decades been a destination for those displaced by conflict. However, the staggering numbers of Syrian refugees and asylum seekers are placing huge strains on the country’s resources and infrastructure.

Junior Tra Tran related the experience of an Iraqi man classically trained in ballet. Faced with persecution from religious extremists, he fled briefly to Syria, where his sister was kidnapped. After trying unsuccessfully to establish himself again as a dance teacher in Iraq, he has now fled to Jordan in an attempt to reach America.

“I want to get back to my life,” Tran said, in the words of the Iraqi man, re-enacting his anxiousness in Jordan. “Here, I am just waiting. It is expensive here — I can only hope that my time here is temporary. I cannot work because it is illegal. I used to have a lot of things, but I had to sell everything for rent. I even sold my phone! I’m disconnected from everyone now, so I have no one keeping me here.”

While the narratives represent only the life stories of those awaiting resettlement, the program gives a more complete sense of the effects of displacement throughout the refugee experience by engaging locally resettled refugee populations in Durham.

Videos of this year’s monologues as well as those of past recitations on the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ YouTube channel.

May 202014
 May 20, 2014

2014-ECP-gradsThe Ethics Certificate Program has eight new alumni: Grace Benson (Major in Public Policy); Daniella Cordero (Major in Neuroscience, Minor in Chemistry); Kelly Howard (Major in Evolutionary Anthropology); Esther Kim (Major in Political Science); Cory Lancaster (Major in Public Policy); Caroline Marschilok (Major in Public Policy); Julie Stefanich (Major in Public Policy); and Kenneth Strickland (Major in Psychology, Minor in African & African American Studies).

Students pursuing the Ethics Certificate take courses from a number of disciplines and engage with multiple perspectives in order to answer this question. This rigorous approach helps develop clarity of thought and expression about ethical issues. Students from all majors of study are invited to pursue the certificate. This year, the program introduced a new pathway option; in addition to the curricular-only option with only course requirements, a co-curricular option includes two experiential components, including a research element and a field project.