Apr 032017
 April 3, 2017

From now through April 14, visitors to the West Duke Building are encouraged to take part in a unique art installation posted by Team Kenan and the Kenan Institute for Ethics. The “Make Your Mark” exhibit features a series of hanging canvases where students, faculty and staff can draw images and shapes as a way to explore the ethical and artistic expression of graffiti.

While early versions of American graffiti focused on “drinking, defecating and politicking,” during the 1950s 1960s, it became associated with a powerful youth subculture that rejected the values and laws on mainstream society, developing its own language, aesthetic, and cultural values. In their own way, Duke community members can explore these ideas through the temporary installation.

To get involved, ask for markers in Room 102.

On March 31, local artist Adair Jones kicked off the “Make Your Mark” exhibit with her own creation, seen in the timelapse video below.

Mar 302017
 March 30, 2017

In the latest edition of the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ “Good Question” series, Alma Blount, Director of Duke’s Hart Leadership Program and a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at Sanford School of Public Policy, offers insight in how to best meet students’ eagerness for ethical leadership.

Blount, who has taught at Duke since 1994 and has served as director of the Hart Leadership Program since 2001, notes it’s important to see leadership not as a position, but as an activity.

“Leadership requires a willingness to help people take on thorny problems that defy easy answers, and it also requires a sense of purpose, and knowledge and skills to embrace those tasks,” she said. “Students show a hunger for this work, an interest in dealing with conflict productively and addressing issues that might keep a community, a company—or a country—from confronting its toughest problems.”

Read more ideas on ethical leadership and learn how a career in human rights work and photojournalism led Blount to Duke in her Good Question profile.

Mar 292017
 March 29, 2017

In addition to his academic work, Wayne Norman also sings about ethical situations.

Wayne Norman, the Mike and Ruth Mackowski Professor of Ethics in the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, is visiting Massachusetts’ Bentley University this week as its 2017 Valente Center Distinguished Visiting Scholar.

During his time on the Bentley campus – located just outside Boston – Norman is taking part in special events for students, faculty and the public, each focusing on aspects of business and adversarial ethics. On March 29, he’ll present the public talk “How to be an Ethical Adversary Without Tying One Hand Behind Your Back,” an exploration of the permissibility of “playing to win” among social and cultural institutions. A faculty seminar will take place March 30, in which Norman will discuss the question of “Why would anybody voluntarily take a course in business ethics?”

In addition to these standard modes of academic communication, Norman is also sharing his academic and teaching interests through song. On March 29, he’ll perform a set of “Ivory Tower Rock!” songs he has written about famous ethical arguments by Plato, Confucius, and MIT philosophy professor Judith Jarvis Thompson in a pub at the Bentley Student Center.

For more information about Norman’s time at Bentley University, visit the Valente Center for Arts & Sciences website.

Mar 282017
 March 28, 2017

Imam Abdullah Antepli , left, shares a laugh with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks during the pair’s public talk, “Civility & Difference.”

In front of a crowd filled with Duke and Durham community members of a variety of faiths, two religious leaders urged about 200 people March 27 to see humanity as the overriding feature that can unite people across beliefs, cultures and geographical boundaries.

In a discussion co-sponsored by Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Imam Abdullah Antepli spoke about their personal journeys through religion, and how engaging in inter-religious dialogue has made them better people and deepened their appreciation for all religion.

“The true, beating heart of monotheism isn’t ‘one god, one truth, one way,’ but the unity in heaven creates diversity down here on Earth,” said Sacks, a British philosopher, scholar and former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. “It is in our particularity that is born our universality.”

The talk, moderated by Ellen Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at the Duke Divinity School, highlighted the experiences of Sacks and Antepli as a way to show the value of civility among differences. Throughout their conversation, both men stressed how interacting with people outside their religions has shaped their life in positive ways.

“When I became an Imam, understanding Judaism and Christianity and Hinduism and Buddhism became an essential part of my intellectual and theological work,” said Antepli, Duke’s Chief Representative of Muslim Affairs and a Senior Fellow for the Duke Office of Civic Engagement. “It also became an essential response for problem solving.”

For example, Antepli said, he may spend just as much time – if not more – with people of other faith systems as he does the Muslim community. Doing so creates a deeper connection to his own religion at the same time he came to learn and appreciate others, he said.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, left, speaks to the audience while answering a question from Professor Ellen Davis, right.

Love, Sacks echoed, is what can be found at the heart of religion and allows inter-faith relationships to develop. He spoke of Mitzvah Day, an annual event for faith-based social action started in 2005, where members of England’s Jewish community volunteered time to offer acts of kindness to people outside their religion. By 2010, British Hindu organizations got involved, which also led to Muslims and Christians joining. Within a decade, each religious community decided to take part as a way to move beyond differences in beliefs to better the lives of others, Sacks said. Instead of face-to-face, they began interacting side-by-side.

“The beauty of side-by-side is it involves no theology, it’s street level and what it does isn’t produce agreement, it produces friendship,” Sacks said. “When you have friendship, you discover the people not ‘like us’ are people like us. When that happens, conversation can begin. It’s not easy, but when it is there, rooted in an existing friendship, it becomes real and it becomes strong.”

Duke and local community members are invited to Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ public talk at 5:30 p.m. March 28, “Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence,” the 2017 Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecture. The event will be held at the Fleishman Commons in the Sanford School of Public Policy. For more information, visit this website.

Mar 222017
 March 22, 2017

Students can now apply for the Kenan Moral Purpose Award, an annual contest to highlight the role a liberal arts education plays in students’ exploration of their personal and social purposes.

The contest, held in partnership between the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Parr Center for Ethics at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is open to all currently enrolled undergraduate students at Duke and UNC. One winner is selected from each school to receive $1,000 based on entries that consider the intellectual, emotional, and moral commitments that make for a full life.

To enter, students should write an essay between 500 and 800 words to address either or both of these questions:

  • In what ways have your core beliefs and larger aims been tested, transformed, or confirmed during your time in college?
  • How have you had to defend or challenge prevailing ideas, social norms or institutions and what lessons have you learned from doing so?

Students must submit their essay by 5pm, Monday, April 17 by emailing a Word or PDF document to kie@duke.edu.

For additional information and past winners, visit the award website.

Mar 222017
 March 22, 2017

The latest batch of posts from the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Global Human Rights Scholars Rights Writers is posted for the month of March. The monthly series of articles written by Duke students focuses on six different human rights topics, each chosen by the author.

This month, the Rights Writers posts include:

For more information about the Rights Writers, visit the program website. Bios of the authors and details about the Global Human Rights Scholars Program can be found here.

Mar 212017
 March 21, 2017

What practices make it possible for human beings to flourish? How do we sustain those practices in a contemporary context?

These questions have stirred and motivated Dr. Farr Curlin in his research and work as a hospice and palliative care physician.

“I knew for years that I wanted to be a physician, and it frustrated me that in medical training we never talked about what medicine is for, nor about how to become the physicians we knew we were called to be,” said Curlin, the Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities and a Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. “I started encouraging students and colleagues to reason together about how to make use of medicine wisely in order to fulfill our obligations to care for one another and to live well within the limits and frailties of the human body.”

For nearly 15 years, the motivations for entering his profession have led Curlin to work with colleagues to foster scholarship, study, and training regarding the intersections of medicine, ethics, and religion. These motivations also led Curlin to the Kenan Institute for Ethics, where he hopes a new collection of research projects, interdisciplinary seminars, conferences, and courses of study will encourage faculty and students to investigate the characteristics of a life well lived and to reflect on the nature and purpose of being human.

This summer, Curlin will begin a new project called the Arete Initiative, named after the Greek word for human excellence. The initiative will be launched with philanthropic support and seeks to form a network of faculty across Duke. Taking inspiration from “classical, Aristotelian, virtue ethics,” the project will focus on “recovering and sustaining the virtues in contemporary life, especially in the workplace, the university, and the public square.”

“We’ll focus on business, law, teaching, medicine, and other domains of work for which Duke students are preparing,” Curlin said. “Instead of first asking, ‘what is allowed or not allowed?’ Rather, we will take a step back and ask, ‘What characterizes a good business leader? A good lawyer? A good teacher?’ What are the virtues and characteristics of those we take to be exemplars of these practices, and of human life more broadly?”

Curlin joined Duke University in 2014 and holds joint appointments in the School of Medicine, including its Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine, and in Duke Divinity School, including its Initiative on Theology, Medicine and Culture. After graduating from medical school, he completed internal medicine residency training and fellowships in both health services research and clinical ethics at the University of Chicago before joining its faculty in 2003.

Mar 202017
 March 20, 2017

In a new paper published with the Centre for European Policy Studies, Kenan Institute for Ethics Senior Fellow Andrea Renda reflects on needed changes in governance and regulation methods as the European Commission works toward Sustainable Development Goals in its policy process as part of its approach to implement its 2030 Agenda.

Through his analysis, Renda takes the Commission’s new commitment to better regulation and Sustainable Development Goals at face value, exploring the changes that might be needed to ensure better regulation can be deployed in the most effective way to support the 2030 Agenda.

“At 15, the EU better regulation agenda is currently in its deepest adolescent phase: reaching maturity requires a deeper embedding of its principles and tools in the overall multi-level governance of the Union,” Renda writes. “In order to allow for a fully fledged policy cycle, the future better regulation agenda should, however, be able to rely on a number of additional actions, aimed at delivering on the stated commitment to mainstream SDGs in the EU policy process.”

To read the full paper, visit the Centre for European Policy Studies website.


Mar 092017
 March 9, 2017

Bryce Cracknell, a junior who has participated in the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ DukeImmerse program, Pathways to Change and serves as a Kenan research assistant, recently traveled with several Duke classmates to Atlanta to take part in the Feb. 16 “Climate & Health Meeting” national conference to address climate change.

Cracknell, who is majoring in public policy with a concentration in race and poverty and a minor in environmental science and policy, has spent his three years at Duke researching aspects of sustainability and human rights. In addition to participating in Kenan programming, he has performed research with Catherine Coleman Flowers, director of the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise and a practitioner-in-residents with the Duke Human Rights Center @ the Franklin Humanities Institute. Flowers acted as a panelist at the Climate and Health Meeting, and extended an invitation to Cracknell t attend.

At the conference, Cracknell spent the day meeting with policy makers and thought leaders in public service and higher education. “We heard a lot about how it’s important to make health a larger component of climate change,” he said. “Making humans the face of climate change instead of only polar bears and penguins.”

During his time at the conference, Cracknell had the chance to meet former vice president Al Gore, former president Jimmy Carter and hear from European Union leaders who presented on best practices of monitoring climate change and data collection.

The topics were of particular interest to Cracknell. In August 2015, he spent time as part of a team with Flowers in Lowndes County, Alabama, where he worked to conduct surveys with local community members about their access to wastewater infrastructure.

“We can look for ways to create policy solutions for rural communities around us with infrastructure, clean water, wastewater and even coal ash here in North Carolina,” he said.

Mar 082017
 March 8, 2017

For nearly a century, the cartoons in The New Yorker have been the standard for urbane wit. Now a Duke professor of computer science has shown he meets that standard.

Vincent Conitzer, part of the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ MADLAB, was the recent winner of a weekly contest to caption drawings seen in the magazine. Conitzer, the Kimberly J. Jenkins University Professor of New Technologies and professor of Computer Science and economics, provided the winning entry for a one-sentence exchange between two sharks: “The doctor said it might help me quit.”

Learn about Conitzer’s entry in this Duke Today story.