Why ethics? The Kenan Institute for Ethics offers undergraduates multiple pathways to explore meaningful ethical questions. The Ethics & Society Certificate is about ideas and action. Through coursework, faculty mentored research, internships and engagement with community, government and business leaders, students learn to both “think and do” at Duke and beyond.
Does a government have the right to insist on another government’s adherence to human rights standards? Should a museum be forced to return artifacts that were stolen centuries before the museum acquired them? Is it ever OK to take drugs to improve performance on an exam? What similar problems were faced by people in the past, and how did they resolve them? How can art, music, and literature provide insight into our real-world challenges?
Students pursuing the Ethics & Society Certificate grapple with questions like these using multiple perspectives while building marketable skills such as critical thinking, ethical inquiry, and leadership.
Those who pursue the Ethics & Society Certificate will follow either a course-based pathway or an experiential pathway. Both share a Gateway and Capstone course. The course-based pathway requires a total of six courses, while the experiential pathway requires four total courses as well as two experiential components, such as mentored research or community-based field work.
Explore the Ethics & Society Certificate below. Please email Geoffrey Harpham if you have any questions.
Gateway Course – Ethics 101/PolSci 120: The Challenges of Living an Ethical Life
This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to ethical inquiry using materials from film to philosophy to explore questions of personal ethics as well as political and social ethical challenges. CZ, EI. Fall and Spring. No prerequisites. Open to everyone.
Spring 2018 offering: MW 3:05pm-4:20pm
Capstone Seminar – Ethics 497S
This course should be taken in the spring semester of a student’s senior year, and it is open only to Ethics & Society Certificate students. The students choose a topic, read about and discuss that topic, and then write a book together on that topic, editing each other’s chapters. Students bring together interdisciplinary insights from previous work in the certificate program and work collaboratively to produce their book. As appropriate, the research for this course can link with (but not substituted by) research undertaken to graduate with Distinction in a major or in the certificate. EI, R, W. Spring only.
Spring 2018 offering: TBD based on seniors’ schedules.
Course Registration Information
We post a list of classes approved for each semester during the corresponding bookbagging period. Special Topics, Study Abroad, and Experiential Pathway courses must be approved on a case-by-case basis. To request course approval, contact Geoffrey Harpham.
- Approved Courses for Spring 2018 (PDF)
- Approved Courses for Fall 2017 (PDF)
- Approved Courses for Spring 2017 (PDF)
- Approved Courses for Fall 2016 (PDF)
- Approved Courses for Spring 2016 (PDF)
- Approved Courses for Fall 2015 (PDF)
- Approved Courses for Spring 2015 (PDF)
- Approved Courses for Fall 2014 (PDF)
The following rules apply to students in all Duke certificate programs:
- No more than half of the courses taken to satisfy the requirements of the certificate may originate in a single department or program.
- Students electing to satisfy the requirements of a certificate program may use for that purpose no more than two courses that are also used to satisfy the requirements of a major, minor, or other certificate programs being pursued.
- At least four of the courses used for a certificate must be 100-level or above.
- At least half the courses taken to satisfy a certificate must be taken at Duke.
The course-based pathway engages students in classical and contemporary ethical debates across many disciplines. Students may choose to concentrate their study in one of the thematic tracks, which currently include:
- International Law
- Markets, Policy, and the Professions
Concentration in a thematic track is not required for the course-based pathway.
In addition to the Gateway and Capstone courses, students must take at least four electives from the following categories (1 elective in Category I, 1 elective in Category II, 1 elective in Category III OR Category IV, and 1 elective in any category):
I. Philosophical Ethics: Develop a foundation in philosophical ethical traditions. Students must take at least one course from a list of approved courses in this category.
II. Cross-Cultural Ethical Traditions: Develop insight into a variety of ethical traditions across cultures. Students must take at least one course from a list of approved courses in this category.
III. Ethics in Historical Perspective: Develop knowledge of different ethical dilemmas across time, as well as the variety of solutions offered to those dilemmas. Students must take at least one course from a list of approved courses in this category or one course in Category IV below.
IV. Ethics in Literature and Arts: Develop a moral imagination and gain a deeper understanding of human frailty, creativity, and strength by studying fiction, poetry, painting, and film. Students must take at least one course from a list of approved courses in this category or one course in Category III.
V. Ethics of Contemporary Issues: Explore the ethical challenges in today’s workplaces, fields of study, and everyday life. Students may take one course from a list of approved courses in this category. Students are not required to take a course in this category.
In the Experiential Pathway, students work with the Ethics & Society Certificate Director, Geoffrey Harpham, to craft their own coherent pathway bringing together coursework, research, and community engagement focused in one of six tracks: Global Migration, Human Rights, Ethics & Environmental Policy, Rethinking Regulation, Moral Attitudes and Decision-Making, and Religions and Public Life.
In addition to the Gateway and Capstone courses, students must take two additional courses (see Course Registration Information above for a list of approved courses) related to the track of their choosing as well as complete two different experiential components. One experiential component must total 150 hours of work (usually completed over the course of one or two semesters) and the other component must total 300 hours of work (usually completed over the summer).
- Research Experience: One experience must be a faculty-mentored research experience (either for-credit or not). This could include an independent research topic or work as part of a research team, like Bass Connections.
- Field Experience: The second experience is a non-credit, community-based field experience. Students may choose any type of field work, but this could include an existing program such as DukeEngage or Kenan Summer Fellows.
Interested students should contact Geoffrey Harpham for more information.