Jun 282018
 
 June 28, 2018  Tagged with: ,

Brianna Nofil, the 2012-13 Stephen and Janet Bear Postgraduate Fellow at the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, is the author of a TIME magazine article on the history of detaining migrant children in the United States.

While a Bear Fellow at KIE, Brianna researched transnational corporations and human rights grievance mechanisms, and travelled to Mongolia as part of the United Nations Working Group.

Brianna is currently a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, specializing in the history of U.S. immigration policy.

Jun 222018
 
 June 22, 2018  Tagged with: , ,
Each year, the Kenan Institute for Ethics awards between 10 and 15 fellowships to outstanding graduate students at Duke University.

Students from any Duke graduate program may apply. What each cohort of Graduate Fellows will have in common is that their dissertation research engages in interesting ways with significant normative issues. Some students, for example – from disciplines such as philosophy, political theory, or theology – focus directly on fundamental ethical or political concepts and theories. Other fellows, from the sciences and social sciences, try to understand phenomena that are relevant to major, and often controversial, public policy debates. Still others attempt to resolve debates in their areas of research that seem to be sustained by long-standing disagreements over both empirical claims and ethical or ideological commitments.

The aim of the on-going discussions throughout the year, among the Fellows and KIE faculty members, is to enhance everyone’s ability to contribute to debates involving ethical issues, and to do so in ways that engage scholars and others within and outside of their own academic disciplines.

Ideal Graduate Fellow candidates will be in the third, fourth, or fifth year of their Ph.D. studies, finished all (or almost all) of their coursework requirements, but still developing new ideas and approaches for their dissertation research. Fellows each receive a stipend of $3,000 that supplements their current funding.

Graduate Fellows meet for a Monday seminar about a dozen times across the Fall and Spring semesters. These seminars usually feature visiting speakers and do not typically require preparation in advance. There are also two half-day workshops – one at the end of each term – in which Fellows showcase their own research.

Alumni in good standing of the Fellowship program will have access to conference- and research-travel funds during their final years in the Ph.D. program.

To apply: e-mail the application, along with a copy of your CV, to kie@duke.edu with the subject line “Graduate Fellowship.”

Deadline: 12 noon, Monday, July 23, 2018.

For further information, email kie@duke.edu with “Graduate Fellowship question” in the subject heading.

Jun 082018
 

In 2013, India adopted a mandatory “comply or explain” corporate social responsibility (CSR) law requiring companies to spend 2% of their net profits on local social causes or explain—in their annual reports and on their websites—why they have failed to do so. With the five-year anniversary of this legislation approaching, the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics recently held a two-day workshop with the goal of taking stock of the law and its impact, focusing on both the philanthropic and corporate responsibility landscapes.

Practitioners from a wide variety of fields, including academic scholars and business leaders from both the U.S. and India, gathered at KIE on June 4th and 5th, to discuss conceptual, empirical, and policy-related questions related to CSRs. The workshop was funded by the Duke India Initiative.

Suzanne Katzenstein, research scholar and the project director at the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, as well as the workshop’s organizer, has long been interested in India’s CSR law. “Considering how unusual and innovative it is, there has been very little interdisciplinary conversation about the law, and even less discussion between academics and practitioners,” she says. “This workshop seemed ideal: bringing people together, who normally don’t have the opportunity to interact, to reflect on and discuss the law.”

A presentation early in the conference by Shankar Venkateswaran, MBA and retired chief of the Tata Sustainability Group, acknowledged that the broader impact of the mandatory law may be that companies think of their role in society differently. “CSR legislation has the potential to rewrite the normative role of business in the community and to transform how corporations think about their role in inclusive development, in line with the National Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Business,” he said. “At the very least, the legislation has meant that the topic has become a conversation at the board level, elevating its status.”

Other questions and issues discussed during the two days of sessions included:

  • What is the objective of the 2013 CSR and how do we measure its impact? What kind of effect is the law having on poor communities it is intended to help?
  • How should we understand the broader impact of the law beyond potentially affecting corporate culture? How is it changing the character and role of NGOs, as NGOs now aim to receive funds under the law? What does it signify in terms of the retrenchment of the state providing public services or the expansion of the state in channeling corporate philanthropy for certain development projects?
  • How do CSRs differ across different types of companies, such as public and private? How does the law interact with corporate governance structures in India?

The “Four Years Out” workshop was a rare and valuable opportunity to have many interdisciplinary—and international—practitioners gathered together to discuss the progress, problems, and promise of CSR in India. As more and more countries around the world—and especially in Asia—learn about India’s mandatory legislation and become interested in adopting something similar, it will become increasingly important to have a consistent definition of what is meant by a CSR and procedures for how they are implemented.

As more and more countries around the world—and especially in Asia—learn about India’s mandatory CSR legislation and become enthusiastic to adopt something similar, it will become increasingly important to have a consistent definition of what is meant by CSR and how one is implemented.

“It is rare to have so many interdisciplinary practitioners gathered together to talk about the same topic. This is a great opportunity,” says Aaron Chatterji, associate professor at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. “This is a law that has gotten so much press, that other countries are going to look at this law and say ‘we want this.’ Many people will be looking for the literature on this (type of law), to understand what they should do.”

May 252018
 
 May 25, 2018  Tagged with: , ,

Kenan Institute for Ethics visiting professor Lisa Ann Richey has co-authored an op-ed piece, with Noelle Sullivan, published in the Huntington Post.

Entitled “There Are Better Ways To Fight Poverty Than Giving Money To Corporations,” the article describes how, in turning charity into consumption through campaigns such as Red Nose Day, “corporations and nonprofits distract from how the current unequal global economic system contributes to the very challenges these campaigns aim to address.” How well-meaning individuals are drawn to these campaigns offering “low-cost heroism” was also addressed by Richey in her talk at the April 12th panel discussion “Commodifying Compassion,” held at KIE.

Lisa Ann Richey is a Visiting Professor at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Professor of International Development Studies and Director of the Doctoral School of Social Sciences and Business at Roskilde University in Denmark. She served as founding Vice-President of the Global South Caucus, and Advisory Board Member of the Global Health Section, of the International Studies Association (ISA).

May 162018
 
 May 16, 2018  Tagged with: ,

The Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics is again running the Pathways of Change program this summer. Students interested in the areas of business and human rights, women’s rights, and environmental justice are matched with internships with partner organizations working for social change across these fields, including Corporate Accountability, Feminist Majority Foundation, and NC Conservation Network. Together they explore the trade-offs between different approaches towards social change.

Sydney Speizman (’17) summarized the positive impact that her internship had on her: “The Pathways of Change program opened my eyes to the complex web of stakeholders and strategies involved in protecting human rights and the environment as the economy becomes increasingly globalized…[it] provided me with both deeper insight into how international development projects can better support the communities they aim to help, and valuable work experience that will undoubtedly shape my future career path.”

In addition to working for 8-10 weeks, Pathways of Change students conduct profiles of the people in their organizations and write “letters home” about the best ways to effect change in human rights practices.

Feb 212018
 
 February 21, 2018

moral purpose
The call for submissions to the 2018 Kenan Moral Purpose Award essay competition is now open, with a deadline of midnight on Monday, March 19. The Kenan Moral Purpose Award is given for the best undergraduate student essay on the role a liberal arts education plays in students’ exploration of the personal and social purposes by which to orient their future and the intellectual, emotional, and moral commitments that make for a full life.

More information and submission instructions here: http://kenan.ethics.duke.edu/students/kenan-moral-purpose-award/

Feb 132018
 
 February 13, 2018  Tagged with: ,

The Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University is calling for submissions for its fourth annual Scholars Symposium in Scholars-SymposiumHuman 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 14th 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 Sunday, March 25th to Suzanne Katzenstein.

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 282017
 
 August 28, 2017

The Global Human Rights Scholars Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics is accepting applications from undergraduates interested in human rights issues to join the second year of the Institute’s “Rights Writers” team, where participants use a shared blog platform to explore in-depth and thoughtful analysis across a range of diverse human rights issues, shaping discussions at Duke and beyond

The project provides a public space for students to offer their insight as well as develop analytical and writing skills, particularly with regards to writing for a general public. Global Scholars blog on a monthly basis about a human rights topic of their choice (see application for more information), read and comment on one another’s draft posts, and meet regularly to discuss. In addition, the Scholars program offers students an opportunity to engage with the work of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and its network of scholars and practitioners.

Students who enjoy writing, would like more public exposure for their writing, and who are interested in tracing developments of their chosen topic over the course of a year are especially encouraged to apply. A collection of work from the 2016-2017 Scholars can be found on the Kenan Insitute’s website.

Opportunities and responsibilities for the 2017-2018 Kenan Global Human Rights Scholars include:

  • Scholars will receive an $850 honorarium in support of their participation in the program.
  • Scholars will blog! Each month during the school year (total 8 blogs) scholars will respond to a prompt about their given topic, as well as provide comments on the draft blog of one other scholar in the group. Blogs will be between 500-800 words;
  • Scholars will attend mandatory meetings twice a month to discuss their writing, their own, broadly defined, global human rights interests as well as current events;
  • Scholars will help facilitate the annual Student Research Symposium in April
  • The Program will include invitations to attend events and meet with human rights scholars and activists visiting the Kenan Institute for Ethics; 

Download the application form: PDF or Word doc. Completed applications should be sent to Suzanne Katzenstein (Suzanne.Kazenstein@duke.edu) by noon Sept. 25. Please put “Global Scholars Application” in the subject line.

Admission is selective: five to six students will be chosen for 2017-2018. Candidates may be asked for an interview and applicants will be notified of their admission decision around Oct. 9. Questions about the application process should be directed to Suzanne Katzenstein, Project Director of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics (suzanne.katzenstein@duke.edu).

Aug 152017
 
 August 15, 2017

In a new report that builds on a publicly-available database of transnational, standard-setting initiatives regulating corporate conduct, research from the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and MSI Integrity suggests voluntary initiatives that connect governments, NGOs, and private companies may not have the institutional elements required to effectively enforce their own standards related to responsible conduct, including respect for human rights.

These multi-stakeholder initiatives, also known as MSIs, aim to improve company or government compliance with a voluntary set of standards for responsible conduct, which can include human rights, environmental, and anti-corruption norms. These standards often outline company or government responsibilities to respect the rights of an identifiable stakeholder group, such as workers, farmers, or communities living in an area affected by business operations.

However, an analysis by the Duke Human Rights Center and MSI Integrity shows that only 14 percent of organizations surveyed for the new database involve any members of the populations they are intended to benefit or protect in their decision-making bodies. Additionally, only half the MSIs involve affected communities in any activities at all. The ramifications of this means that, in the process of attempting to improve corporate conduct, people with the most at stake often end up being the most marginalized.

“Before we conducted this study, many scholars assumed that all these MSIs look good on paper and the real question concerns what they are doing in practice,” said Suzanne Katzenstein, Research Scholar and Project Director at the Duke Human Rights Center. “But even on paper, there’s reason to be troubled.”

Part of the problem, Katzenstein noted, is a lack of transparency. Although 78 percent of MSIs have some form of sanctioning provision to hold members accountable if they don’t live up to standards, it’s difficult to know when the use of sanctions is warranted. This is because one in four MSIs does not require documentation of its evaluations. Of MSIs that do document corporate compliance, 63 percent do not make their evaluations publicly available, making it difficult for external actors to assess if an initiative has used its sanctioning mechanism sufficiently or appropriately.

Although the premise of many MSIs is to facilitate meaningful and relatively equal participation by different types of stakeholders to address a particular issue, 40 percent of MSIs in the database had highly imbalanced representation of stakeholder groups – meaning that one stakeholder group outnumbered any other in the initiative’s highest decision-making body by a ratio of two-to-one or greater. In these instances, governments, private companies or NGOs that have more representation in the initiative’s decision-making body may overpower the voices of other groups and guide the initiative’s agenda towards a particular group’s interests. In three MSIs, industry representatives outnumbered other stakeholders on the initiative’s highest decision-making body by a ratio of four-to-one: ICTI Care Process, Program for Endorsement of Forest Certification, and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

“The innovation of MSIs is that they bring together a diverse set of actors to hold companies and sometimes governments accountable,” Katzenstein said. “But when they’re dominated by one kind of stakeholder, outcomes can become skewed. Although both practitioners and academics have pointed to the need to fine-tune MSIs, this research suggests there is a need to re-think more seriously how to engage and improve MSIs.”

Data used in the report was collected by a Kenan service-learning class, Business and Human Rights Advocacy Lab, in the spring of 2015 and 2016. The 2015 class worked on piloting the research methodology and the 2016 class implemented the final methodology to collect the data. Students also conducted short case studies on the MSIs they researched.

Visit the MSI Database to see the full report. MSIs in the database engage with over 50 national governments and regulate over 9,000 companies – including Fortune Global 500 businesses with combined annual revenues of more than $5.4 trillion dollars.