Projects, Collaborations, Events, and Activities, 2017-2018

 

Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics explores questions concerning the interplay of different religious communities across time and geography, with special focus on Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Europe and beyond; religions and migration, and religions and politics.

Some of our work in fall 2016 included:

– Launch of Muslim Diasporas faculty working group, providing an interdisciplinary forum for Duke faculty to workshop papers
– Regular meetings of the Religions and Public Life Society of Scholars, an interdisciplinary graduate student working group
– Co-sponsorship of election-related events, including a debate watch party in collaboration with undergraduate campus organizations and public talks on the role of religion in the election featuring two public figures, Peter Wehner and Robert Wilson-Black.
– Co-sponsorship of a symposium exploring historical and contemporary Middle Eastern communities in Latin America

– Hosting a religions and politics seminar discussion

Projects and collaborations in spring 2017 include:

– Visits by three scholars of Islamic and comparative studies. Each will give a public talk and participate in the Muslim Diasporas working group seminar during his visit. Co-sponsored by the FHI Humanities Futures and the Department of History
– Co-sponsoring a public lecture on international law in the Ottoman Empire
– Hosting a book roundtable discussion for a new volume on liberalism in Egypt, including discussion of Islamic political parties, co-edited by a Religions and Public Life graduate student
– Co-sponsorship of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ visit to Duke, hosting a “Scholars of Faith” seminar discussion with the Rabbi
– An international conference in collaboration with with Bar-Ilan University (Israel) and the University of Leipzig (Germany) on historical moments of collaboration of the three Abrahamic religions and at interreligious cultural exchange among these traditions.

View Projects and Activities from the archive:

2015-2016

PROJECTS AND COLLABORATIONS 

RPL-narrative

Partnership with the Council for European Studies at Duke
Religions and Public Life will partner with the Council for European Studies (CES) for two events this spring. The first will be a lecture with David Hollinger, Preston Hotchkis Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley, on the European model for secularization. The second will be
a symposium, “Fifty Years after Vatican II: The Jewish-Christian Dialogue.” In this symposium, Christian Wiese, Martin Buber Chair of Jewish Studies at the University of Frankfurt and John Connelly, Professor of History at Berkeley will discuss the state of the Protestant-Jewish and Catholic-Jewish dialogues, respectively. The symposium is organized in collaboration with the Duke Center for Jewish Studies and the North Carolina Jewish Studies seminar. In addition, Religions and Public Life is sponsoring the work of Noa Cnaan-On, a researcher in CES’s forum of Research Scholars, a program to support research by outstanding graduate and professional students and visiting scholars, and to further deepen interest in the interdisciplinary study of Europe.

Bass Connections Project Team | Generosity and Gratitude: Mechanisms, Motivations and Models of Living Kidney Donation
In 2012, despite a waiting list of more than 100,000, there were only 5,620 living kidney donors in the U.S. Only 161 of these were non-directed donors (i.e., donors who did not specify the recipient). What are the barriers to living kidney donation, and how might we increase the pool of living kidney donors?  Looking closely at the current mechanisms of kidney donation and the motivations of those who do donate, especially those who donate outside their circle of family and friends, this project will explore innovative models of donation, with the aim of increasing the pool of living kidney donors. Given the large disparities between the incidence of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in whites (275 per million) and African Americans (924 per million), and similar disparities in kidney transplants, the project will focus specifically on the barriers to treatment and transplants among African Americans. The project will also focus on the role that faith and faith communities play, or might play, in the recruitment of living kidney donors.

Faculty/Staff Team Members:
David Toole, Divinity School, Global Health Institute, Kenan Institute for Ethics
Kim Krawiec, Law School
Ray Barfield, Medicine, Divinity
Farr Curlin, Medicine, Divinity
Kieran Healey, Sociology
Warren Kinghorn, Medicine and Divinity
Richard Payne, Medicine and Divinity
Undergraduate and Graduate Student team members:
Brett McCarty (Graduate, Theology)
Harrison Hines (Graduate, Theology and Public Policy)
Kathleen Perry (Graduate, Divinity and Global Health)
Selina Wilson (Undergraduate)
Julia Carp (Undergraduate)
Sarah Beaverson (Undergraduate)

EVENTS & ACTIVITIES 

Medicine and Meaning

  • Generosity and Gratitude. Date TBD, The Bass Connections team will host a public event.
  • Life and Death on the Frontiers of Global Health: A Conversation with Mark Dybul Hosted by Michael Gerson. On September 16 at 6:00pm, Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and Pamela and Jack Egan Visiting Professor at Duke, will explore key global health and international development issues with Mark Dybul, the Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and former head of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
  • The Rest of the Story: Medicine, Meaning, and Music. On February 10 or 11, join us for an evening of reflection, storytelling, and music led by Ray Barfield and Jeremy Begbie. Dr. Barfield is a pediatric oncologist and Christian philosopher, and Dr. Begbie is a concert pianist and theologian. Together they address the importance of storytelling and music for understanding both the promise and limits of medicine.

Storytelling and the Moral Life

  • Inside Story. Two storytelling workshops for faculty and students that use storytelling to explore the relationship between storytelling and the moral life. Jeff Polish from The Monti in Durham will mentor students and faculty in live storytelling, and they will then perform the stories unscripted for the Duke community. The student event will be held at the Duke Coffeehouse on Thursday, October 22 at 7:00PM. The faculty event will be in Spring 2016.
  • Writing Stories for the President.  On November 2-3, Michael Gerson, chief speechwriter for George W. Bush, will be in residency to offer reflection on presidential speechwriting.

Religious Practice and Civic Engagement

  • Pope Francis in America (and the World). On November 3, join us for a moderated discussion of the significance of Pope Francis for the church and the world, following his visit to America. Panelists include Michael Gerson (Washington Post) and Helen Alvaré (George Mason University School of Law).
  • Father Greg Boyle and Homeboy Industries. On February 1-5, Father Greg Boyle, or “Father G,” as he is known, will serve as a Kenan Practitioner in Residence and will engage students, faculty, and the community about his work. Homeboy Industries began when a concerned group of Angelenos, led by Father G, asked a simple question: “Can we improve the health and safety of our community through jobs and education rather than through suppression and incarceration?” In 1988, members of the Dolores Mission Church and Father G found a few caring business owners willing to hire former gang members and “Jobs for a Future” was created. Thousands of young people have since walked through the doors of Homeboy Industries looking for a second chance, and finding community. Homeboy Industries is recognized as the largest and most successful gang intervention and re-entry program in the world, and has become a national model.

2014-2015

COLLABORATIONS

The Jewish Tradition & Human Rights
This is an ongoing series hosted by the Duke Center for Jewish Studies and co-sponsored by Religions and Public Life at KIE, Jewish Life at Duke, and the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute.

Living Donor Kidney Transplants and the Good Samaritan
The subject of non-simultaneous, extended, altruistic donor (NEAD) chains in the arena of kidney transplants concerns the problem of end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which each year in the U.S. leads to 90,000 deaths and costs Medicare $28 billion. Even more, ESRD highlights the health disparities of African Americans and Hispanics, among others, and it raises a host of important questions across a wide variety of disciplines. This project pulls together a team from medicine, divinity, law, sociology, and the brain sciences both to pose and to answer a series of questions that NEAD chains bring to the fore, including: What motivates the small number of people willing to give a kidney to a complete stranger? Are the agreements between donor pairs contractual and enforceable? Can non-simultaneous, extended, altruistic donor chains become international? This project is a funded jointly by KIE and Bass Connections.

Two Mellon Grants Based in the Council for European Studies at Duke
The first, “Jews and Muslims: Histories, Diasporas, and the Meaning of the European,” started in 2013 and is exploring the history and challenges facing Jewish and Muslim communities across the globe seeking integration, or admission into the civil society and polity, of their immigration countries.  Beginning this year, the second grant, “Reasonable Accommodations? Minorities in Globalized Nation States,” seeks to address what a dominant culture’s obligation is to minorities, immigrants, and foreigners in the host countries. This work is co-sponsored by the Council for European Studies at Duke, the Duke Islamic Studies Center, and the Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics.

 

FACULTY-LED PROJECTS

Christianity , Poverty and Ethics of Aid
This new initiative, led by KIE Senior Fellow Luke Bretherton, aims to address three inter-related fields: a theoretical one that engages with philosophical and theological critiques of such terms as “altruism,” “philanthropy,” “humanitarianism,” and “development” and their problematic assumptions and histories; the emergence of alternatives to both market-driven and state-centric visions of welfare provision, public health, and responses to poverty, and the connections of such alternatives to church-based initiatives (whether in minority world Christianity/”the West” or the majority world Christianity/the “Global South”); and the globalization of religious and democratic movements and how these interact with and shape relations between churches of the Global South and Western faith-based development agencies. A number of events and lectures around the topic will be held, and began with a symposium in May 2014 on theology, global health, development and poverty.

 

STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES

“Alternate Fall Break: Cultivating Community” Food & Interreligious Dialogue  Program
This is an intensive three-day Alternative Fall Break program on food and interreligious dialogue.  The experience offers students the opportunity to connect with faculty and religious leaders for a deep dive into the diverse, often complicated religious and social fabric of the Durham. At the same time,  participants will work with religious and secular organizations committed to building stronger communities.  The program will take a serious approach to interreligious dialogue, working to understand the profound differences of perspective and belief that characterize different faiths, while appreciating the food traditions and approaches of various religions.

Integrating Greater Interreligious Dialogue into Service Learning at Duke
Supported by a grant from the Golieb Foundation, this initiative seeks to help Duke become a national leader in permanently embedding interreligious service-learning at all levels of the curriculum. It builds upon Duke’s strong foundation of service learning and relationships with local and national faith-based community partners. The program will attract undergraduate students who wish to blend interfaith scholarly exploration with hands-on application of ethical principles through service learning.

 

WORKSHOPS, CONFERENCES AND EVENTS IN 2014-2015

  • Panel Discussion: Fostering Interreligious Study and Conversation. On September 17, a lunchtime panel discussion featured Duke faculty Abdullah Antepli, Duke’s Chief Representative for Muslim Affairs and Associate Director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center, Laura Lieber, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Co-Director of the Center for Jewish Studies, and Ellen Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology. They engaged visiting scholar, Menachem Fisch, Joseph and Ceil Mazer Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Tel Aviv University. The panel focused on fostering interreligious study and conversation by discussing goals, guidelines and cautions.
  • The Jewish Tradition & Human Rights: Susannah Heschel. On October 20, Susannah Heschel (Dartmouth College) will discuss her father’s (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel) legacy as a human rights activist and his archives, which have recently opened here at Duke in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Susannah Heschel is the Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College. Her scholarship focuses on Jewish-Christian relations in Germany during the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of biblical scholarship, and the history of anti-Semitism. This ongoing series is hosted by the Duke Center for Jewish Studies and co-sponsored by Religions and Public Life at KIE, Jewish Life at Duke, and the DHRC at the Franklin Humanities Institute.
  • The Sacredness of the Secular and the Secularity of the Sacred: Re-imagining the Role of Religions in Public Life – an interview with Charles Taylor. On Tuesday, November 18, KIE Senior Fellow Luke Bretherton will hold a public interview with the philosopher Charles Taylor. Taylor is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at McGill University, and his long academic career includes winning the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy and the Templeton Prize. Taylor has long objected to what many social scientists take for granted, namely that the rational movement that began in the Enlightenment has made notions like morality and spirituality into nothing more than quaint anachronisms. This event is sponsored by the Religions and Public Life Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics.
  • Reasonable Accommodations and Minority Religious Freedom. As part of Charles Taylor’s visit to Duke University, this workshop on November 20 will build upon research funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation. Speakers will discuss the ethical tensions and complexity of multicultural accommodation and religious freedom. What do nation states and minorities, liberal majorities and religious communities, owe each other? How can universal enlightenment principles, such as those underlying human rights, be negotiated with multiculturalism and communal rights? The workshop is sponsored by the Center for Canadian Studies, the Center for European Studies, the Duke Islamic Studies Center, and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, with funding provided by the Mellon Foundation and the Provost’s Office at Duke University.

2013-2014

PROJECTS AND COLLABORATIONS IN 2013-2014

Islam and the Media
Ellen McLarney, Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature and Culture, led a project exploring the aesthetics of Middle Eastern Islam through digital production, music, architecture, art, satellite television, and social media. How does cultural production breathe new life into older religious forms? How is this new life lived, felt, and experienced? How does material production give expression to the spirit, making the invisible visible? How do representational practices give voice to the soul? The project featured a workshop held in October on “Sense and Sensation” and hosted another on “Technology and the Sacred” on February 7.

American Jewish Institutions and Organizational Innovation
Research on organizational innovation has usefully helped business leaders guide their firms through changing market conditions. While consultants to nonprofits have encouraged community and philanthropic organizations to adopt these same lessons, very few have. This is especially true in the Jewish world, which remains dominated by institutions that have been criticized for pursuing costly strategies and out-of-date priorities. Nonetheless, there are some Jewish leaders and organizations that have injected dynamism into American Jewish. In January 2014, KIE Senior Fellow Barak Richman organized a conference of scholars and practitioners to synthesize lessons in innovation for Jewish organizations and communities.

Jews and Muslims: Histories, Diasporas, and the Meaning of the European
This initiative, instigated last year by the Center for European Studies at Duke, explores new comparative global approaches to the study of Jewish and Muslim communities. Supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, several workshops and panels have been held.

 

CONFERENCES, LECTURES AND EVENTS IN 2013-2014

  • Islamic Media: Sense and Sensation. On October 4, this interactive workshop explored the aesthetics of Middle Eastern Islam through digital production, music, architecture, art, satellite television, and social media. How does cultural production breathe new life into older religious forms? How is this new life lived, felt, and experienced? How does material production give expression to the spirit, making the invisible visible? How do representational practices give voice to the soul? In this workshop, Duke students performed an interactive public sphere by engaging scholars in fields critical to the disciplinary study of media and the senses. Sponsored by Duke Islamic Studies CenterAsian & Middle Eastern Studies, and Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, A Humanities Writ Large “Emerging Humanities Network,” Duke Middle East Studies Center, and the Religion Department.
  • The Hebrew Bible and Human Rights. On October 28, as part of the lecture series The Jewish Tradition & Human Rights, Marc Brettler (Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies, Brandeis University) spoke on “The Hebrew Bible and Human Rights.” This series is hosted by the Duke Center for Jewish Studies and co-sponsored by Religions and Public Life at KIE, Jewish Life at Duke, and the DHRC at the Franklin Humanities Institute.
  • Rabbis and Human Rights: The Ancient Period. On December 2, as part of the lecture series The Jewish Tradition & Human Rights, Evyatar Marienberg (E.J. and Sara Evans Fellow of Jewish History and Culture at the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) spoke on “The Rabbis and Human Rights: The Ancient Period.” This series is hosted by the Duke Center for Jewish Studies and co-sponsored by Religions and Public Life at KIE, Jewish Life at Duke, and the DHRC at the Franklin Humanities Institute.
  • American Jewish Institutions and Organizational Innovation: Using Theory to Inform Practice, Using Successes to Inform Practitioners. In January, KIE Senior Fellow Barak Richman organized scholars and practitioners to explore how in recent decades, research on organizational innovations has usefully helped business leaders guide their firms through changing market conditions. While consultants to nonprofits have encouraged community and philanthropic organizations to adopt these same lessons, very few have. This is especially true in the Jewish world, which remains dominated by institutions that have been criticized for pursuing costly strategies and out-of-date priorities. Nonetheless, there are some Jewish leaders and organizations that have injected dynamism into American Jewish life that follows the template of organizational innovation. This conference was designed to highlight the achievements of some of these organizations, understand their experiences within a common theoretical understanding of institutional renewal, and synthesize lessons for other Jewish organizations and communities who seek to rejuvenate Jewish life through creative organizations and organizational strategies.

2012-2013

Fall 2012 Activities

  • The KIE Campus-Grant-funded Ethically Formed? Symposium on Religion, Ethics, and Politics, co-sponsored by Duke Divinity School (Sept. 24-25)
  • Dinner with faculty to define the scope of Religions and Public Life, generate curricular and cross-curricular points of conversation, and make plans for the future

Spring 2013 Activities

  • A new interdisciplinary graduate seminar was launched:  “A Paradoxical Politics? Religions, Poverty, and the Re-imagining of Citizenship within a Globalizing World.”
  • A series of guest speakers gave public talks in conjunction with the seminar course, including: