Team Kenan looking for First Years

Team Kenan is looking for applications from first years!

Team Kenan is a part of the Institute’s social and intellectual community, creating spaces for students, faculty, and Institute staff to think and talk about ethics outside of the classroom in fun and engaging ways. TK programs serve as a complement to the Institute’s curricular offerings, giving students who are interested in ethics additional opportunities to chat, think, and challenge one another and the wider Duke community. The team, made up of a diverse cross-section of Duke students, engages the Duke community through “couching”: students are welcome to sit in Kenan’s mobile living room and discuss selected topics related to ethics. Meant to inspire spontaneous, unplanned moments of connection, the TK Couch brings ethical inquiry — and comfy chairs — to Duke students wherever they might be.

Members of Team Kenan develop interviewing and surveying skills; learn methods for effective communication in conversation, writing, and design; work on personal and professional presentations; and take part in event planning. Team Kenan participants receive a $1,000 honorarium per term.  

Meet the Team

To be considered for Team Kenan, please submit a CV and cover letter that address the following questions:

  1. Why do you seek to participate in Team Kenan?
  2. Why do you want to foster conversations about ethics on campus? What do you think the benefit and purpose of such conversations are?
  3. Please detail any experience you think might be relevant to work with Team Kenan. This could include digital design skills, research experience, writing skills, event- and program-planning, etc.  
  4. In order to be part of Team Kenan, you are required to attend a weekly meeting on Fridays from 3-5pm, as well as a retreat on September 14-15th (breakfast on Saturday, ending noon on Sunday). Please include with your application a written commitment to be available for these times.

On your CV, please make sure to include your email, phone number, and expected graduation year.

Please send your CV and cover letter to mari.jorstad@duke.edu.


APPLY for the Religions and Public Life Graduate Fellowship: “Church and State”

DEADLINE: 12:00 noon, Thursday, August 15

Each year, Religions and Public Life at KIE funds a Graduate Student Working Group around a theme important to religion and public life.

2019-20 Overview and Theme

The call is open to graduate and professional students wishing to take part in monthly interdisciplinary student-led seminars on “Church and State.” Projects considering the ‘church’-state relationships for any religion and religions in general are welcome. Sample topics might include: how members of religious communities engage — in cooperation or conflict — with state power and governance; religious movements and nationalist movements; issues relating to religious freedom; religiously-motivated violence and peace-making; religion and science policy; religiously-motivated political and community organizing; interreligious cooperation in local, national, or transnational contexts; and law and religious practice, among others. The program conceives of religious experience and discourse broadly and will consider any project that investigates the extension of private devotion or ethical struggles into public or political contexts.

Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics explores the role of religions in historical and cultural context as they influence the lives of their adherents, interact with each other across time and geography, and contribute to the formation of institutions that make up the public sphere. A joint endeavor with the Duke Divinity School, it is an interdisciplinary platform that puts scholars, students, and practitioners in conversation with one another through collaborative research, innovative teaching, and community engagement. Funding for the graduate scholars also comes from generous support from the Duke Center for Jewish Studies (CJS).


The graduate scholars will have the opportunity to develop their research interests and discuss recent scholarship. Members take active part in the events of Religions and Public Life and commit to attending monthly meetings throughout the academic year. Graduate scholars will write a think-piece or blog post relating their research to contemporary issues, to be published on the Religions and Public Life website at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Additionally, scholars will take part in an end-of-year research conference. Scholars receiving CJS funding are expected to participate in at least two CJS events during the academic year.


Graduate scholars receive $1,250 for full participation. The sum is provided in two payments, one in November and one in April.

Application and Deadline

To apply, please submit the materials listed below to Amber Díaz Pearson (amber.diaz@duke.edu) by 12:00 noon on August 15, 2019, with the subject line: “Religions & Public Life graduate scholars.” Awards will be announced on August 21.

  • Curriculum vita
  • Project description (1-2 pages) describing how it connects to the theme of “Church and State.” Please include your topic and research objectives.
  • Research budget


For further information, email amber.diaz@duke.edu with “RPLI Graduate Fellowship question” in the subject heading.

Take Ethics and Resource Extraction this Fall!

Ethics and Resource Extraction

From climate change and the Anthropocene to resource conflicts and environmental justice, natural resource extraction shapes social, political and ecological relations to planetary effect. Focused on the Americas, Ethics and Resource Extraction explores resource extraction, ethics and religion in order to enrich deliberations about action in a resource economy. While climate change analysis foregrounds sky, weather and carbon counting, it de-centers the particular identities, lands, bodies and traditions that assemble in extractive spaces. This course complements climate change analysis by giving students the theoretical, conceptual and historical tools to describe and act in a world ordered around the extraction, production and consumption of natural resources, including fossil fuels. Scholars increasingly argue that a resource economy and its effects are more than technical matters demanding technological and policy solutions alone. They also touch on deeply held convictions about the human in relation to the earth, the relation between being and becoming, conceptions of nature and materiality, the nature of moral and political agency, the forces at work in history, and the ways human knowledges of the world condition action in the world. Students will first engage history, theory and theology to think about resource extraction’s ontological and epistemological aspects. With the help of case studies from North and South America, students will then think ethically toward effective action.

Register for ETHICS 390S.01!

Take Data and Democracy this Fall!

Data & Democracy explores how to address the challenges posed by foreign interference in U.S. elections, how policy prescription and corporate reform can be shaped by the emerging fields of cyber and data ethics, and examine original source material to better understand the nature of foreign interference in elections. It will also include a discussion of interdisciplinary work in multiple fields: data and information science, ethics, privacy law, cybersecurity, national security, state and local governments, corporate governance, voting rights, communications law, internet governance, civil rights, international relations, and political theory.

Register for ETHICS 390S.02!

University of Groningen to host Religious Heritage Conference

Religions and Public Life at KIE cofounded the International Network on Interreligious Research and Education in 2017 with the goals of advancing scholarship on religion and improving interreligious dialogue in universities and communities around the world. Now in its third year, the network has cosponsored annual summer schools and conferences in four countries, with this year’s meetings at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, exploring “Religious Heritage in a Diverse Europe”. You can read more about the conference online here.

Anthropocene Fellows Announced

Each summer, the Luce-funded grant Facing the Anthropocene supports five graduate and professional students as they undertake research related to the Anthropocene. The Farm fellowship supports graduate and professional students undertaking research that relate in some way to the Duke Campus Farm. The Anthropocene Graduate fellowship supports PhD students who wish to integrate Anthropocene themes into their thesis research.

The Anthropocene Graduate Fellows

Charles Nathan
Charles Nathan, a PhD student in Political Science argues that in ancient Athens, democratic equality was only possible by breaking citizens’ natural political affiliations to family, clans, and kinship associations, and also severing political ties to their local geographic environs. The Anthropocene, he suggests, provides an opportunity to reinspect the dissociation of political identity from the natural environment and reevaluate the normative merits of “more natural” and “less natural” forms of political identity.


Casey Williams

Casey Williams, in the Graduate Program in Literature, is looking at the representability of climate change. On the one hand, he says, anxiety that the planetary dimensions of contemporary crisis exceed the capacities of human thought. On the other hand, insisting that climate change presents an unprecedented but surmountable “challenge to the imagination” also betrays an unrelenting faith in human intellection that mirrors the key Anthropocene claim that the human is master not just of local environments, but of the planet, shaping it as a geological force.


Sarah Ziegler

Sarah Ziegler, in Marine Science and Conservation, will develop a podcast entitled “Hello, Human,” which will focus on the multiple ways people in North Carolina engage with nature, prioritizing efforts by local indigenous authorities to Native American environmental justice. She plans to incorporate this work into her dissertation on marine protected areas (MPAs) and indigenous social movement struggles in Rapa Nui.


The Farm Fellows

Perry Sweitzer

Perry Sweitzer is a PhD student in Religion and Modernity at Duke University. He is particularly interested in the intersection between race, land, and being human. His current research asks how taking account of the theological, religious, and secular might offer an important vantage point from which to think these together.


Jonah Bissell

Jonah Bissell, a student at Duke Divinity School, is researching the agrarian economy of Roman-Jewish Palestine in antiquity (1st Century AD), in order to read the gospels ecologically.


Supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, Facing the Anthropocene includes a multidisciplinary working group in which scholars engage in conversations surrounding the human impact on the planet. The group studies how political, legal, and economic orders have shaped landscapes and ecologies through global patterns of human habitation and use.