Graduate Students


Samuel Bagg
Samuel Bagg is a Ph.D. student in Political Science, with a focus in normative political theory. His research interests include democratic theory, pragmatism, pluralism, institutional theory, political economy, and the philosophy of social science. His dissertation seeks to develop a defense of pluralism that does not rely on any claim to neutrality between conceptions of the good life.

Nick Bloom
Nick Bloom is a PhD student in Sociology. He is interested in how organizations and individuals agree on the terms of exchange. His recent work is on university students’ job market transitions and computational methods for text analysis.

Joseph Nelson
Joe Nelson is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Philosophy. He is interested in the question of what morally justifies beliefs and actions, the relationship between individual and group obligations, connections between morality and rationality, the sources of conflicting moral intuitions, and utilitarianism.

Divya Guru Rajan
Divya Guru Rajan is a Ph.D candidate in Public Policy. Her research is related to the political economy of development and inter-group inequality with an emphasis on India.

Shana Starobin
Shana Starobin is a Ph.D candidate in Environmental Science and Policy at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and is serving as a coordinator for this year’s Monday Seminar series. She was the 2011-2012 Kenan Graduate Instructor in Ethics. With academic and professional interests in institutional design and social innovation, her research focuses on the role of business, NGOs, and civil society in fostering alternative modes of governance and institutions for addressing complex socio-economic and ecological problems, such as the private regulation of the global food supply chain.

She is professionally active as an educator and group leader for volunteer delegations to developing countries through American Jewish World Service. In the U.S., she serves as a senior adviser to the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) and as a member of the Board of Directors of, a national non-profit that enables gardeners to donate surplus produce to local food pantries.

Sungwoo Um
Sungwoo Um  is a second-year Ph.D student in the Department of Philosophy. He focuses on ethics (esp. virtue ethics), with the central question ‘How should one live?’. He believes that one should become a virtuous person to live the happiest life and is trying to find out how to reconcile morality and happiness. He also studies moral psychology, applied ethics, political philosophy, Kant, and Aristotle. He is currently engaged in research examining the relation between ethical virtues and epistemic requirements.