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.

Sep 272017
 September 27, 2017

Norman Wirzba, left, and Jedediah Purdy, center, joined Bill McKibben to discuss humanity’s role in climate change.

Hundreds gathered at Goodson Chapel Sept. 27 as the Kenan Institute for Ethics hosted renowned author, educator and environmentalist Bill McKibben for the Institute’s first biannual Luce Lecture as part of its Facing the Anthropocene project.

Faculty, staff, students and local residents came to hear from McKibben, who has written about the environment for nearly 30 years. In the Luce Lecture “Climate Crisis/Climate Hope,” he spoke of the power and impact of industries that contribute to rising global temperatures and how the “work of citizenship” is becoming a moral and ethical imperative to address a rapidly changing climate.

“We are on a path, if not exactly to Hell, but to someplace with a very similar temperature,” he said to the crowd.

Showing imagery of natural disasters and protestors trying to raise awareness of issues facing the environment, McKibben said influencing change is truly a global effort, noting his work with 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized 20,000 rallies around the world.

“When we win, we win on behalf of the future and on behalf of people all over the world – especially the poorest and most vulnerable who are feeling every day the impact of what we have done,” he said, later adding, “This is the first thing that impacts everybody, all over the place.”

During his time on campus, McKibben also met with students, faculty and staff to discuss environmental activism and what the future of such movements could and should be to combat repercussions of climate change. McKibben’s visit was part of the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ focus on ethics and environmental policy, including the new Facing the Anthropocene project, led by Norman Wirzba, a Senior Fellow at Kenan and Professor of Theology, Ecology, and Agrarian Studies, and Jedediah Purdy, the Robinson O. Everett Professor of Law.

Sep 272017
 September 27, 2017

Two Kenan Institute for Ethics faculty will be sharing their expertise with new audiences in October.

Faculty member Walter Sinnott Armstrong in the middle of Terry Road in Orange County wearing a straight jacket. Armstrong was photographed for the Good Scholar/Ethical Duke series for the Kenan Center for Ethics on Monday evening September 13, 2010.

On Oct. 5, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, the Chauncey Stillman Professor in Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, will lead a public discussion at Penn State University about the morality of artificial intelligence. During the conversation, Sinnott-Armstrong will explore building morality into computers and the ability of machines to make morally better decisions than humans. His talk is a part of the Moral Psychology Research Group Conference.


Luke Bretherton photographed in various locations around London, England for Kenan Ethics "Good Question" series.Just a few days later, Luke Bretherton, Senior Fellow at Kenan and an Associate Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School, will present as part of the McGee Endowed Lecture at Baylor University. Held in conjunction with 7th and James Baptist Church’s Leuschner Lecture Series and the Honors Residential College’s Formation Series Lecture, Bretherton will offer one of campus three lectures, with his focusing on the theme of “People, Populism, and the Church in the Era of Trump.”

Sep 202017
 September 20, 2017

With seven engagements across two days at Duke, Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Practitioner-in-Residence Cass Sunstein presented to hundreds of students, faculty, staff and community members this week. He visited campus in collaboration with the Rethinking Regulation Program at Kenan and Duke Law School.

Sunstein, Harvard’s Robert Walmsley University Professor and founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School, shared a breadth of his regulatory expertise on a range of topics, from moral commitments in cost-benefit analysis to political division, food labeling and the process of impeachment. In addition to his work at Harvard, Sunstein previously acted as Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama Administration.

During talks at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Sunstein used topics of climate change and how people hold political beliefs to illustrate shifting ethical challenges in America. It can be hard to change minds, he said, because of how people can strongly hold to personal beliefs.

“Not liking something,” he noted, “pre-determines not believing.”

Sep 152017
 September 15, 2017

As part of a weeklong, campus-wide effort to highlight the many resources, benefits and services Duke offers its campus community, senior Snehan Sharma is one of five special profiles for the Duke Healthy Campus Initiative.

Sharma, who is featured as a representative for a day focused on fulfillment and purpose, noted his involvement in the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Purpose Program, MASTERY, Citizenship Lab and more as experiences that shaped his college experience.

“After my experience working with refugees, it became clear that whatever career path I chose, I’d like to have more social benefit tied in than personal benefit,” he said.

For more about how Sharma’s time with Kenan has shaped his life, read his story, “Finding Fulfillment Through Meaningful Work.”

Sep 142017
 September 14, 2017

In a new episode of WNCU’s “The Measures of Everyday Life,” Kieran Healy, associate professor in sociology and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, shares insight into his research on nuance, performativity and ethics.

The weekly public radio show highlights researchers, practitioners, and professionals discussing their work to improve the human condition.

Among his recent work, Healy co-authored two papers with Kimberly Krawiec, a Senior Fellow at Kenan and the Katherine Everett Professor of Law at Duke’s School of Law. Those works focused on moral repugnance in markets and innovation and changes in organ transplantation. This spring, Healy examined the impact social media has had on public sociology and shifting acceptance of nuance in Sociological Theory.

Stream or download the episode:

Sep 052017
 September 5, 2017

The Kenan Institute for Ethics hosted award-winning journalist and novelist Ben Ehrenreich Sept. 4, who spoke to a crowd of students, faculty, staff and community members to share insight on the ethics of telling stories in contested terrain.

Ehrenreich, who has written for New York Times Magazine, London Review of Books, Harper’s Magazine and more, reflected on his reporting for his most recent book, “The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine,” and read selections to the audience. In his reporting for the book, Ehrenreich traveled to and lived in the West Bank, staying with Palestinian families in its largest cities and its smallest villages.

“As humans, all we have useable to us is highly contested terrain,” he said. “There is no other kind.”

Throughout his time there, Ehrenreich said he worked to find stories to highlight aspects of truth and humanity, and found the idea of contested terrain in Israel and Palestine as a theme that can be seen all over the world, accented by centuries of fighting and disagreement, from displacement of Native Americans to wars of Europe.

“When we talk about contested terrain, we’re also of course talking about histories,” he said. “Histories that remain alive in us, that shape our choices, our perceptions, our possibilities, our visions for the future.”

Aug 292017
 August 29, 2017

Time, Tide and Turtles - Alternative Spring BreakThe Kenan Institute for Ethics invites applications for an intensive three-day Alternative Fall Break program on the collision between culture, food systems, development, industry and conservation, through the lens of a small community coping with the changing tide.

In cooperation with the the NOAA Beaufort Lab, the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center, Duke University Marine Lab and Duke Campus Farm, the Alternative Fall Break program will run from Saturday morning, October 6th through Monday afternoon, October 9th.

The group will travel to Harker’s Island, NC, to explore how a local fishing community (where turtle stew was once a local staple but is now illegal, to make) experiences complex politics surrounding food systems, cultural preservation, environmental conservation and coastal development. Participants will meet Harkers Island community members, marine scientists, members of the commercial fishing industry, and some folks back in the Triangle who work at the intersection of food systems and eating ethics. Participants will come away from break better able to map some significant pieces and moral puzzles contained in North Carolina’s foodways, particularly surrounding its fishing-based food economy. We’ll enjoy plenty of tastes, smells, and sights along the journey.

During the trip students will keep a journal documenting their questions, concerns, and experiences. These journals will form the basis of a physical and electronic response, created upon return to Duke.

Participation in the program is open to all currently-enrolled Duke undergraduate students, as we explore these topics from a wide-variety of disciplines and backgrounds. The Kenan Institute for Ethics will cover lodging, board, meals and transportation.

Please note: participants will be in close proximity to shellfish and other seafood and marine life throughout this trip.

Contact Dan Smith (dan.smith@duke.edu ) with questions and concerns.

Application deadline: September 12, 2017. Application form: https://goo.gl/forms/6d93fl8AHDmSDNId2