Apr 062017
 April 6, 2017

Sunny skies and warm temperatures offered an opportunity for camaraderie and play among Duke students and local refugee children April 4 as part of the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Mentorship, Academics, and Self-esteem: Tutoring and Engaging with Refugee Youth program.

The weekly program, which hosts about 50 local youth from kindergarten through high school, offers unique learning opportunities for both volunteers and kids. Duke undergraduates provide mentoring, tutoring – and when the weather calls for it – a space in which to bond and play. In turn, Duke students gain greater awareness of global issues, presented in a tangible way. Local children participating this semester include kids from Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Syria and Vietnam.

“Tutors have the chance to have a direct impact on a kid’s life and educational trajectory while learning about their stories and personalities,” said senior Olivia Johnson, who organizes MASTERY. “It’s a chance to break out of the daily routine of studying at school to meet new people and perspectives, which I think is truly valuable. It’s also just really fun.”

During the latest meeting, the group played catch, hula hooped and scored on portable soccer goals. Throughout the year, activities also include creative art projects, celebrations of holidays from different cultures, academic achievement, and community building.

For more information about the program, visit its website.

Mar 222017
 March 22, 2017  Tagged with: ,

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 072017
 March 7, 2017  Tagged with: ,

Sherry Feng, center, goes over a presentation for Sawiana Enterprises with team members Jason Wang, left, and Saheel Chodavadia, right. The trio was one of two Duke teams to compete at the Hult Prize competition in Boston March 2 to 5.

For Duke students Saheel Chodavadia and Julie Williams, a recent competition has further spurred interest to help refugees around the world after Kenan Institute for Ethics’ programs first got them thinking globally.

The pair were part of two Duke teams at the Hult Prize competition, a collegiate social entrepreneurship contest held March 2 to 5 in Boston. During their time at the event, Chodavadia and Williams networked with peers from a variety of different countries, heard from leaders of non-profit organizations and shared their own ideas for how technology has the potential to positively impact vulnerable populations.

The Hult Prize Foundation, which provides start-up funding for its contest, had teams present ideas to help “restore the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees by 2022.”

“Being surrounded by so much knowledge and so many creative solutions, it shows you that there are incredible people ready to do great things in the world,” said Williams, whose team, REconomy, built an app to better integrate resettled refugees into new economies.

REconomy’s idea came after Williams and teammate Sanjeev Dasgupta traveled to Jordan in 2016 with the Kenan Institute’s DukeImmerse program to work with refugees. Chodavadia, who has participated in Kenan’s Refugee Project and Focus and MASTERY programs, was part of Sawiana Enterprises, a team working to create an app to connect refugees to share skills, like cooking, and interests, like starting a business

While a team from Rutgers University won top prize at the competition, Williams and Chodavadia said the lasting impact from the trip will be the way they think about how they can help those in need elsewhere in the world. A big part of that, they said, is having more face-to-face time with refugee populations to understand what daily needs are like to better tailor solutions to help them.

“Based on what they say and what you learn, you can find a solution to empower them, not just help them,” Chodavadia said. “Whenever I do something at Duke, I want to do it because I see a problem. With refugees, I want to help them because they tell me what their problem is.”

Williams echoed the sentiment, noting that interactions she had with refugees through DukeImmerse taught her about the need for sustainable solutions, not just quick fixes.

“What can we provide,” she said, “so that people can provide for themselves.”

Despite not winning the Hult Prize competition, both the REconomy and Sawiana Enterpreises teams will continue to seek funding for their projects.

Mar 012017
 March 1, 2017  Tagged with:

Julie Williams shared this image of children as part of a research journal from her 2016 DukeImmerse experience in Jordan.

Through a variety of unique opportunities and programming, the Kenan Institute for Ethics has inspired several undergraduate students participating in a national competition focused on helping refugees around the world.

From March 2 to 5, two teams in the Hult Prize competition, a leading collegiate social entrepreneurship contest, will have a distinct Kenan feel after experiences through DukeImmerse, MASTERY and others encouraged students to think globally. The Hult Prize Foundation, which provides start-up funding for its contest winners, has asked students to present on solutions to build “sustainable, scalable social enterprises that restore the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees by 2022.”

Kenan is funding the trip to Boston for REconomy, a team of four Duke students who have built an app that can help integrate resettled refugees into new economies. Inspiration for the app came from experiences through the Institute’s DukeImmerse program, which provided team members Julie Williams and Sanjeev Dasgupta the chance to work with refugees in Jordan in 2016. The goal of REconomy is to allow sellers to post goods and services with a price, location and contact information to formalize interactions among refugee settlements.

Kenan’s 2017 DukeImmerse team of students is currently testing the app to provide feedback.

Another Duke team in the Hult competition  has a Kenan connection through Saheel Chodavadia, who is part of Sawiana Enterprises, which is working to create an app to connect refugees to share skills, like cooking, and interests, like starting a business. Chodavadia has taken part in the Institute’s Focus program, Refugee Project, and has tutored local refugees through Kenan’s MASTERY program. This summer, he’ll participate in Kenan’s DukeEngage Dublin trip.

For more information about the teams and their projects, see this Duke Today story.

Feb 272017
 February 27, 2017  Tagged with: ,

The latest batch of posts from the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Global Human Rights Scholars Rights Writers is posted for the month of February. 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.

Feb 092017
 February 9, 2017  Tagged with: ,

From covering the death of a Chicago teen to the importance of ethical policing, Kenan Institute for Ethics’ Practitioner-in-Residence Jamie Kalven covered an array of topics related to government accountability during a public lecture as part of Kenan’s “Cover-ups and Exposés” series Feb. 8.

Kalven, who won a 2015 George Polk Award for Local Reporting after breaking the story of Laquan McDonald’s death, spent time on campus meeting with students and faculty discussing issues of accountability, abuse, impunity and institutional denial. During his talk, Kalven examined the cultural and moral implications of each topic through the lens of his reporting. What he found in recent years, he said, are questionable behaviors ingrained “in the DNA” of the institutions created to help Americans, from aspects of racism to shielding those in power.

“The process of building more credible and transparent systems has only partially advanced,” he said. “The challenge now is to figure out how to heal. To do it without lying about the realities. To do it without receding from intermittent clarity about underlying systemic conditions.”

Kalven saw this difficulty first-hand in his uncovering of McDonald’s death. In October 2014, Chicago Police Department officer Jason Van Dyke shot the teen 16 times, but it wasn’t until Kalven successfully issued a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain McDonald’s autopsy report that the narrative created by the department became clear. In the following months, Kalven learned how officers worked to lead witness reports and craft a story implying that McDonald was responsible for his own death. Through his reporting, Kalven found the opposite occurred, and before Van Dyke shot McDonald, the teen was acting calmly with first responders.

“What becomes apparent at this point is what the investigators are doing as their essential function, as they understand it, is actually not to figure out what happened, it’s to figure out how to justify what happened,” Kalven said. “That orientation is so strong it raises the possibility that the gravitational field of institutional imperatives is so powerful that they don’t actually see the wrongdoing. What they’re contending with is a problem to be solved in the interests of the institution.”

In the aftermath of uncovering the truth behind McDonald’s death, city leadership created the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was fired and thousands of pages of government emails were released, showing a concerted effort among officials and administrators to create a unified narrative of the incident.

Kalven warned that kind of behavior isn’t out of the norm and in order to create a more connected and informed society, it will be important for all people – from citizens to those in power – to expand their knowledge, understanding and empathy of the world around them.

“The challenge is to break into people’s moral imaginations,” he said, “to elicit their fellow feeling, to somehow subvert the stories they already know so there’s some space for perception.”

Kalven’s lecture was co-sponsored by the Forum for Scholars & Publics and Department of Political Science.

Feb 062017
 February 6, 2017  Tagged with: ,

CoverUpsA collection of faculty from the Kenan Institute for Ethics were recently awarded an Intellectual Community Planning Grant to additionally fund Kenan’s “Cover-ups & Exposés” series, which seeks better understanding on mass institutional cover-ups and what happens when they’re exposed.

The awards, presented by Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth and Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies Ed Balleisen, provide $3,500 to $5,000 to support faculty pursuing the development of a new or existing collaboration. Cover-ups & Exposés is led by Kenan’s Suzanne Katzenstein and Ruth Grant. Along with Duke faculty, additional collaboration comes from UNC-Chapel Hill faculty.

As part of the Cover-ups series, Kenan is hosting investigative journalist Jamie Kalven Feb. 6 to 8, including a public lecture on police abuse and accountability at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8. Details are available here.

For more information about the grant and a full list of groups receiving funding, visit the Interdisciplinary Studies website.

Jan 172017
 January 17, 2017  Tagged with: ,

Scholars-SymposiumThe Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University is calling for submissions for its third 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 February 6th to the 9th, 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. Kaven 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 a faculty working group on cover-ups. He will participate both in a “Conversation in Human Rights” panel with investigative journalist for the News and Observer Mandy Locke on Tuesday, February 7th at 4:00 pm at Duke Law School, room 3037 and in a community workshop.

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

Mr. Kalven is also taking part in a Do Lunch for undergraduate Duke students on Monday, February 6th at noon. Details and RSVP form here.