An Outsider’s Perspective and an Insider’s Explanation

By Rachel Revelle

ed_think-300x225A new class of Duke students are on their way, as we are reminded each year with the onset of Blue Devil Days. I helped staff the Department and Student Life Fair this morning to share information about the Kenan Institute.  It’s always a refreshing experience to partake of the energetic atmosphere of newly accepted students envisioning their future college lives. Even by standing at an information table for a couple of hours, I become invested in some of the personalities.  I want to say, “Yes, you should absolutely choose Duke, and as soon as you get here, come see us at Kenan!”

It’s also valuable to interact with outsiders not yet familiar with the Duke world.  The questions that students and parents raise often make me realize things about the academic world here that over time become assumed knowledge, but that may not be clear at first glance. One laid back and chatty father commented that it seems like as soon as Duke gets people to campus it starts shipping them off all over the world!  Global education as part of innovative curricular models is certainly on the rise.  This made me pause, however, and think about the image that portrays.  What is the foundation of a Duke education, right here at Duke, and what is the value added of new components that are emerging?

Another thing that I appreciate about Blue Devil Days every year is that it makes me think about how we define what we do here at Kenan.  If I’m talking to a student for three minutes while they pick up our array of brochures and flyers, how can I explain our purpose and interest them in our programs? I’m not sure if I have the perfect spiel yet, but I hope I portray the broad message that we want to expand notions of what constitutes ethical inquiry, and how it is applied in the world around us.

Two years ago I was volunteering at the Kenan table as a student, and explaining that my DukeEngage experience led me to the Ethics Certificate Program, which was central to the evolution of my academic and societal interests. It was a process of reviewing the map that I organically created (with the help of great mentors at Kenan!) during my college experience. Now I try to propose the numerous routes a student could take with Kenan to create their own map.