Mar 212017
 March 21, 2017  Tagged with:

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.

Jan 242017
 January 24, 2017  Tagged with: ,

Undergraduate and graduate students invited to apply. Rolling application deadline during Spring 2017.

The Religions and Pubic Life Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, in collaboration with the Duke Center for Jewish Studies, is pleased to announce a summer short course, July 12-17, on religious exchange and historical collaboration among the three Abrahamic Religions at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. A competitive fellowship to attend is available, funded by the Center for Jewish Studies.

Download the syllabus and find application instructions here.

For any questions, contact David Steinbrenner.

Nov 142016
 November 14, 2016

KIE Senior Fellow and Duke Divinity professor, Luke Bretherton, recently had an article on Brethertonthe Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Religion and Ethics website, entitled, “How to Go On? Democratic Politics in the Age of Trump.”

In it, Bretherton considers how Christians might move forward in a precarious political landscape like America’s current one, building bridges of relationship and communication with those with whom they disagree without overlooking gross injustices that work against a good and common life.

Read the article here.

Oct 282016
 October 28, 2016  Tagged with:

The Duke Interreligious Scholars Program provides a context for students of multiple religious and nonreligious identities to build relationships, work on social issues of shared concern, connect their (non)religious identities with civic life and their professional goals, and increase their religious and interreligious literacy. The program combines curricular and co-curricular opportunities with intentional living, service, and social action. Visit the website for more information.

Sep 272016
 September 27, 2016

campus-grants-400The Campus Grants program allows members of the Duke community to incorporate ethics into their own work. Grants of up to $500 are available to all members of the Duke community—students, faculty, and staff—to support initiatives that promote ethical or moral reflection, deliberation, and dialogue at Duke and beyond.

We welcome diverse perspectives and submissions from organizations and individuals in all areas of the University and the Medical Center. Campus Grant funding provides support for speakers, workshops, meetings, curriculum development, publications, organizational collaborations, and other activities. Travel grants for attending conferences or other individual activities will not be awarded. 

To view previous awardees, visit the Campus Grants page.

For consideration, the application form must be completed and sent to

Download the form now: Word.

Aug 242016
 August 24, 2016

BrethertonKIE Senior Fellow and Duke Divinity professor, Luke Bretherton, recently had an article on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Religion and Ethics website, entitled, “Attacks on Joy: Munich, Nice, Orlando, Utoeya and the Nature of Evil.”

In it, Bretherton considers the notions of joy and of moral judgment, the language of “evil,” and also explores what was “morally distinctive about the mass murders in Nice, Orlando and Utoeya, and…contrast(s) them with the recent attack in Munich and those that are analogous to it.”

Read the article here.

Jul 212016
 July 21, 2016

Bass-KIEJohn Stanifer, a resident in nephrology with the Duke University School of Medicine, recently spoke with the Duke Global Health Institute about his work on an upcoming Bass Connections project, “Spirituality, Self-Management, and Chronic Disease Among Ethnics Groups of Robeson County, N.C.” The project is one of two selected for additional funding from the Silver Family Fund, supporting projects that align thematically with the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ program areas. Robeson County, a community with a majority American Indian Lumbee population in southeastern North Carolina, comes in last place for health outcomes among the state’s 100 counties.

This is the beginning of what I consider to be a long-term commitment to working with the people of Robeson County,” said Stanifer. “Ultimately, our hope is to effectively address the huge disparity in outcomes for patients in this region with kidney disease and end-stage renal disease.

Jul 072016
 July 7, 2016

The Council for European Studies at Duke University, in collaboration with the Duke University Center for Jewish Studies and Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, invites applications for Research Scholarships for the academic year 2016-2017. The scholarship supports graduate and professional students, as well as postdocs, wishing to take part in interdisciplinary student-led seminars, focusing on Religion and Ethnicity in Global Europe. Scholars will be participating in working groups on one of three themes:

  1. Jews & Muslims: Histories, Diasporas, and the Meaning of the ‘European’
  2. Reasonable Accommodations: Minorities in Globalized Nation States
  3. Religions and Public Life in Global Europe

The Society’s conceptions of global Europe, the religious sphere and ethnicity are capacious. Under exceptional circumstances, applications on topics falling outside the range of the three themes may be considered.

The Society’s working groups provide members with the opportunity to develop their research interests and discuss recent scholarship. Members take active part in the events of the Duke Council for European Studies, Center for Jewish Studies and Religions and Public Life and commit to attending monthly meetings throughout the academic year. They also agree to record a brief video highlighting their research or to write an analysis of an event they attended, which may then be featured on the Council for European Studies, Center for Jewish Studies and Religions and Public Life websites and social media.

Scholarships consist of a $1,500 reimbursement for research expenses. Contingent upon fulfillment of the scholarship’s attendance and participation requirements, these funds will be paid out in two separate payments of $750 each through the scholar’s home department. Depending upon the availability of funding, additional monies may be made available throughout the course of the year. Additionally, the Council for European Studies will provide scholars with shared office space at the John Hope Franklin Center. Preference in scholar selection may be given to graduate students enrolled in the Interdisciplinary European Studies Certificate. Postdocs and visiting scholars may also be considered.

This year, additional monies will be made available to several Fellows for creating and running a blog on the Religions and Public Life at KIE website.

To apply, please submit the materials listed below to Ms. Deirdre White ( by June 15, 2016. Awards will be announced by July. An application should include:

  • The Society of Fellows Research Scholar application
  • A one-page abstract for a research project, focusing on one of the three themes listed above. Please include the topic, objectives of your project, and relevance to the discipline or field of study as well as your academic trajectory. Additionally, please include how your project may contribute to the scholarly community.
  • A proposal budget Scholars may be asked to share their research and findings by participating in colloquia or panel discussions during the year of their fellowship or the following year.
Jun 202016
 June 20, 2016

Grad-AwardsEach year, the Kenan Institute for Ethics selects up to 12 graduate student applications for the Graduate Student Fellowships each academic year. Students from any Duke graduate program may apply. Ideal candidates will be in the 3rd or 4th year of their PhD studies: finished all (or almost all) of their coursework requirements, but still developing new ideas and approaches for their dissertation research.

The Fellows receive an award of $3000 that supplements their current funding. This Fellowship involves regular participation in a seminar (typically featuring an invited speaker) that meets approximately five times in each of the Fall and Spring semesters, on a Monday from noon-1:30 pm. In addition, there will be a half-day workshop during the pre-exam reading break at the end of each term.

The seminar series does not typically require extensive preparation in advance. The aim of the on-going discussion among the fellows and Institute faculty members in the seminar is to enhance everyone’s ability to contribute to debates involving ethical issues, and to do so in ways that engage scholars and others both within and outside of their own academic disciplines. Fellows will also be asked to participate in a one-day workshop early in the fall of their Fellowship year, and in two late-afternoon workshops – one late in fall and one late in the spring semester.

The deadline to apply for the Graduate Fellowship at the Kenan Institute for Ethics for the 2016-2017 academic year is Monday, July 11, 2016. For further information, contact with “Graduate Fellowship question” in the subject heading.

Download the application (docx)