Oct 252017
 October 25, 2017  Posted by  Tagged with: ,

Join Slate magazine’s Critic-at-Large Stephen Metcalf to talk about how culture shapes society and vice-versa, how neoliberalism led to the Trump presidency and the role and responsibility of journalists in the age of Trump. Have lunch with him to get a different and involved perspective!

Stephen Metcalf attended Phillips Exeter Academy but, “three weeks shy of graduation, was asked by the school administration, in no uncertain terms, to leave.” He then matriculated at Wesleyan University, later earning a master’s degree from the University of Virginia. After spending some time working on a Ph.D. in the English graduate program at Yale University, he moved to New York City where he worked as a speechwriter for Hillary Clinton, during her first Senate campaign, and a freelance writer. Subsequently, he joined Slate as a staff writer, where he writes the magazine’s Dilettante column and serves as host of the magazine’s culture podcast.

Metcalf’s work has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Observer and New York (magazine).

Do Lunch is a series of informal lunch discussions, exclusively for currently enrolled Duke undergraduate students, featuring ethical leaders outside of Duke and their decision-making processes.

Catered lunch available to students who RSVP; space is limited. Sign-up here.

WHAT: Do Lunch with Stephen Metcalf
WHEN: Tuesday, November 7, from 12pm to 1pm
WHERE: Ahmadieh Family Conference Room, West Duke 101, East Campus
RSVP: Click here to RSVP.

Apr 112017
 April 11, 2017  Posted by  Tagged with:

The Kenan Institute for Ethics has now made it easier to explore complex ethical questions wherever you go.

In coordination with Team Kenan, the Institute has launched a new podcast, Audible Ethics. Hosted by Duke sophomore David Wohlever Sánchez, episodes will explore areas of science, politics, psychology and more, with help of scholars and thought leaders at Duke and beyond. The podcast is available now through iTunes.

In its first episode, Audible Ethics chats with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, the Chauncey Stillman Professor in Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, to talk about the future of artificial intelligence. Upcoming conversations include David Toole, a Senior Fellow with the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Senior Research Fellow at Duke Divinity School and Arts & Sciences, and Barry Lam, a Humanities-Writ Large Fellow visiting with Kenan as part of work with Sinnott-Armstrong.

In a recent recording, Wohlever Sánchez spoke with John Hood and Leslie Winner, two North Carolina political leaders visiting campus as Kenan Practitioners-in-Residence.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at Audible Ethics with Wohlever Sánchez in the video below and subscribe to the podcast here.

Feb 142017
 February 14, 2017  Posted by  Tagged with:

What is Good Art? 2017The Kenan Institute for Ethics has extended the deadline for this year’s “What Is Good Art?” exhibition to allow students additional time to enter projects that explore how we should live, the role that art plays in our lives and its impact on how we see the world.

To allow for additional entries, Kenan has extended the submission deadline until 11:59 p.m. Feb. 21.

This year’s theme is “What Were You Thinking?” and is is open to all current Duke students. Selected artwork will  be displayed in the Keohane-Kenan gallery in the West Duke Building. Crash prizes are also available.

What Is Good Art? is sponsored by Team Kenan, the student branch of the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Submission guidelines, information about the prizes, and more can be found on the exhibition website.

Jan 232017
 January 23, 2017  Posted by  Tagged with: ,

wiga_gray_400-01Each spring, Team Kenan holds the WIGA competition around a different theme. Duke University students are encouraged to submit entries to compete for four prizes, and have their work displayed in a collective exhibition in the Keohane Kenan Gallery of the West Duke Building. A distinguished panel of experts in art and/or ethics convene to select pieces for display. All Duke students are invited to submit works in any medium for the spring contest and exhibition around the theme of “What Were You Thinking?.”

As always, the WIGA theme is intentionally broad and open to many interpretations.


  • First Prize: $500
  • Second Prize: $300
  • Third Prize: $100
  • Gallery Choice Prize: $100

How to submit:

  • Download the submission guidelines and submit with a digital photo or video of your work.
  • If you have any questions, please email dan.smith@duke.edu.
  • Submissions will be due on Tuesday, February 21st by 11:59:59pm EST. The exhibition opening and prize announcement will be scheduled for mid-March.
  • Submit your artwork!

Oct 192016
 October 19, 2016  Posted by  Tagged with: , , , ,

By Amanda Lewellyn and Alex Zrenner

TruthThe truth is more complicated now than it’s ever been.

In the past, the word truth meant that the statement couldn’t be argued. But today, in the midst of one of the strangest presidential elections in history, every fact has become debatable.

Regardless of what independent fact-checkers report, partisan pundits problematize the truth–not to mention the morality and context–behind the facts. We can even see it in the political ads: this election, there’s a focus on emotional rhetoric and not factual arguments.

With this growing tension between fact and feeling, the electorate is left to question how we’re supposed to know whether candidates’ claims are truth, lies, or something else entirely.

Let’s look at that disconnect from an economic perspective: according to the Democrats, we’re recovering from the 2007-2009 recession, and the economy is growing.

But according to Trump (and some Republicans), the economy is failing. China, globalization, and immigration have taken all of our jobs and everyone is out of work.

Who’s right? That depends on who you ask.

According to a number of economic measurements, the Democrats are right. The unemployment rate is now at five percent, a major improvement from its staggering 10 percent peak during the 2007-2009 recession. The stock market has reached record highs in 2016. We have almost zero reason to fear an impending recession in the U.S.   

But Republicans also have reason to believe that the economy isn’t as healthy as the Democrats say it is. The unemployment rate is an arbitrary but established measurement of economic labor performance. It is the fraction of people who have a job to people who have a job AND are actively seeking work. Any person who stopped searching for work isn’t factored into this measurement. Which means there may be a significant portion of the country that isn’t working (and isn’t looking, either).

Translation: the truth here is fraught. From a zoomed-out point of view, sure, the Democrats are right in saying that the economy on the whole is getting better. But there is reason to believe that a nonrandom group of people are not experiencing that economic recovery.

Just outside of St. Louis, there was a factory that manufactured Chrysler cars. It was shut down during the 2007-2009 recession. Now, all the factory line workers are out of a job, and everyone they knew from the factory is, too. In a workforce that is increasingly skilled and an economy that’s moving toward clean energy, those factory workers now lack the qualifications to participate in the type of jobs that American leaders are working to produce: jobs in fields like solar energy and technology production.  

Those factory workers don’t feel the low 5 percent unemployment rate is the truth. They know that they’re unemployed. They know that many of their friends are unemployed, and not of their own volition.

In other words: from those factory workers’ perspective, the Democrats’ summary of the “growing” economy does not reflect their experiences. It’s just not their truth.

That’s not to say that the Democrats are wrong or ill-intentioned, either. A five percent unemployment rate is a great sign for the economy, and the losses of factory and coal jobs are an unfortunate opportunity cost of transitioning to a clean and sustainable economy. We should create programs to ease the transition, but that’s a conversation for a later date.

So is it the statistic or the experience that defines the truth? We don’t have an answer to that. We don’t think anyone does.

What we do know is that regardless of the outcome of this election, many people will believe that the majority ignored their truths. It is the responsibility of the next leader of the country to find a way to include those voices in the creation of national policy.

Sep 022016
 September 2, 2016  Posted by  Tagged with: ,

Jerry EnsmingerHow do we persevere in the struggle for environmental protection, when faced with claims that national security interests trump regulations? What is the duty of government and/or industry to safeguard local communities and the global environment? And if institutions and corporations fail to serve as effective stewards, how do we hold them to account before lasting damage is done? Join Jerry Ensminger, for lunch to discuss these topics and more.

Jerry Ensminger is a retired Marine Master Sergeant of 24 years. His family is one of hundreds of thousands who bathed, drank, and cooked with water contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, in eastern North Carolina. He lost his nine year old daughter, Janey, to leukemia in 1985. Jerry has dedicated his life to helping other victims of the contamination at Camp Lejeune. In 2012, President Obama signed into law the Janey Ensminger Act, authorizing medical care to military and family members who had resided at the base between 1957 and 1987 and developed conditions linked to the water contamination.

Do Lunch is a series of informal lunch discussions featuring ethical leaders outside of Duke and their decision-making processes.

Catered lunch available to students who RSVP; space is limited. Sign-up here.

WHAT: Do Lunch with Jerry Ensminger
WHEN: Thursday, March 2, from 12pm to 1pm
WHERE: Ahmadieh Family Conference Room, West Duke 101, East Campus
RSVP: Click here to RSVP.

Aug 212016
 August 21, 2016  Posted by  Tagged with:

Richard Cohen

How does society combat the apparent rise of incidents of bigotry, hate crimes and racial supremacist groups? Should democratic governments, which by their very nature, serve the majority, protect minority groups and non citizens? Has the United States learned anything from the ongoing struggle for Civil Rights? Join Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, for lunch to discuss these topics and more.

Richard Cohen came to the SPLC in 1986 as its legal director after practicing law in Washington, D.C., for seven years. Under Cohen’s guidance, the SPLC won a series of landmark lawsuits against some of the nation’s most violent white supremacist organizations. He also successfully litigated a wide variety of important civil rights actions – defending the rights of prisoners to be treated humanely, working for equal educational opportunities for all children, and bringing down the Confederate battle flag from the Alabama State Capitol. Prior to becoming SPLC president in 2003, Cohen served as its vice president for programs, which include the Intelligence Project and Teaching Tolerance.

Do Lunch is a series of informal lunch discussions featuring ethical leaders outside of Duke and their decision-making processes.

Catered lunch available to students who RSVP; space is limited. Sign-up here.

WHAT: Do Lunch with Richard Cohen
WHEN: Tuesday, February 21, from 12pm to 1pm
WHERE: Ahmadieh Family Conference Room, West Duke 101, East Campus
RSVP: Click here to RSVP.

Aug 062016
 August 6, 2016  Posted by  Tagged with: ,

DoLunchJamieKalven-400Does power inevitably corrupt and is today’s media interested in, or even able to hold those in power accountable? How can members of society charged with upholding “law and order” succumb to systematic corruption and what effect does that have on our neighborhoods? How do we rethink American law enforcement so that it, once again, “serves and protects” communities, rather than taking a combative approach that institutionalizes violence?  Join investigative journalist and human rights activist Jamie Kalven for lunch to discuss these topics and more.

Kalven is co-founder and of the Invisible Institute, a “journalistic production company on the South Side of Chicago”, which is “dedicated to enhancing the capacity of citizens to hold public institutions accountable.” He has reported widely on public housing and police abuse issues for The View From The Ground. Kalven’s reporting on patterns of police abuse at Stateway Gardens in 2005-2006 gave rise to a federal civil rights suit – Bond v. Utreras – that figured centrally in public debate over police reform in Chicago. Kalven’s investigation and subsequent reporting brought to light the 2014 shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald and the subsequent cover-up by the Chicago Police Department, which led directly to an investigation and findings of systematic civil rights violations by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Among the awards Kalven has received forms reporting are the 2015 Polk Award for Local Reporting and the 2016 Ridenhour Courage Prize.

Do Lunch is a series of informal lunch discussions featuring ethical leaders outside of Duke and their decision-making processes.

Lunch will take place in West Duke 08C from 12pm to 1pm. Catered lunch will be available to students who RSVP – space is limited. 

WHAT: Do Lunch with Jamie Kalven
WHEN: Monday, February 6, from 12pm to 1pm
WHERE: West Duke 08C, East Campus
RSVP: Click here to RSVP.

Oct 302014
 October 30, 2014  Posted by  Tagged with:

Appropriate-Appropriation-400What makes some uses and representations of Native American cultural symbols appropriate, and others inappropriate? How should consumers evaluate the appropriateness of a garment or accessory they’re considering purchasing? What factors should non-Native American designers consider before incorporating Native American symbols and materials in their designs? How do intellectual and cultural property law affect the marketing of cultural symbols?

Join the Forum for Scholars and Publics and Team Kenan for an evening exploring Native American fashion and identity. See fashions by Native American designers followed by a panel including:

Adrienne Keene (Cherokee), Post-doctoral Fellow at Brown University, author of the blog “Native Appropriations”
Jessica Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), author of “Beyond Buckskin” blog & boutique
Susan Scafidi, Professor at Fordham Law and Founder of the Fashion Law Institute (and Duke alumna)
Shayne Watson (Navajo), designer at Shayne Watson Designs

November 19th at 7pm
Nelson Music Room
201 East Duke Building, East Campus

Jan 072014
 January 7, 2014  Posted by  Tagged with:

Ethics of Sustainable Food 400Making “ethical” food decisions is a hot topic these days, but sorting out exactly what that means can be difficult. Join Team Kenan to explore some of the perspectives and contradictions in the sustainable food movement. This discussion will center issues of equity, access, and responsibility in food production. We are often told that “sustainable” food is better, but how and for whom is often less clear. How can we understand the true cost of food, for the environment, for workers, and for consumers with limited purchasing power? How can we change the way we grow, process, and eat food to create a healthier society? Equally importantly, what might we lose along the way?

Join Team Kenan for a panel discussion featuring, Charles Thompson, professor of Documentary Studies and American Studies, Norman Wirzba, Professor of Theology and Ecologuy, and Shana Starobin, Kenan Graduate Fellow and PhD Candidate in the Nicholas School on Thursday, January 16th at 7:00 PM in Sanford 05!

Dinner from Nosh will be provided to those who RSVP by January 14th at 5pm.

What: Panel discussion on the ethics of sustainable food
When: January 16th from 7-8:30 pm
Where: Sanford 05
RSVP: Click here to RSVP