Out of sheer necessity, many of us will stay closer to home than we had planned. Time in place— at home or wherever else we are might be sheltering in place–is affording a new perspective on local communities and their challenges. In response to this moment of historical disruption and societal need, the Kenan Institute for Ethics is creating a new undergraduate opportunity for students to hone their sense of moral purpose and moral imagination by identifying an issue confronting their local community and designing a project to address it. Unprecedented times call for extraordinary reflection, creativity and action.
These Ethics in Place Fellows will exercise their moral imagination by combating an ethical challenge in their hometown and designing a virtual project to address it over the course of this abnormal summer.
Our fellows in action
Dana is a rising junior majoring in environmental science and policy. In her home, San Diego County, pit bulls are a hot topic of debate. Using narration, research, and interviews, she will create a podcast about pit bulls in her hometown, San Diego. Through phone interviews with experts, she hopes to investigate multiple facets of this subject, including disproportionate shelter populations, breed specific restrictions and regulations, illegal fighting rings, and various firsthand experiences.
Gabrielle, hailing from Oakland, California, is an outspoken advocate on issues of criminal justice reform and its intersection with girls of color. This summer, she will study young Black women across the United States and their perceptions of justice and injustice. She will interview ten young Black women, ages fifteen through twenty-two, from each region of the United States and ask them a set of questions surrounding their views on justice, liberation, discrimination, etc. Her research will center around listening and uplifting the stories and experiences of these young women and will culminate in a paper of her findings.
Sara Kate Baudhuin
Sara Kate Baudhuin is a rising Trinity Junior from Charlotte, NC. She is majoring in a Program II titled “Storytelling as a Tool for Social Change” that explores the ethics of storytelling and how narrative intersects with public policy. Her project is focused on exploring the question: what is meaningful labor in the midst of a pandemic? Because our physical selves pose the very threat we are trying to avoid, she wants to explore how we can still offer love and support to our communities in new ways, while keeping each other safe. By creating art in public spaces, she will investigate how less tangible forms of labor–perhaps ones we can’t see the result of–can be a necessary form of emotional relief and connection.
Autumn is an Environmental Science major with a passion for environmental justice advocacy. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color, especially the African-American community. This digital exhibition will feature a collection of creative contributions from people-of-color, who are experiencing unique challenges in this historic time period. Additionally, the collection will also feature various and inspiring grass-roots, mutual aid programs that reflect the importance of solidarity, empathy, and compassion.
Darcy is a sophomore from northwestern Connecticut studying Public Policy with a minor in Education. Her project aims to organize with surrounding communities to start a pride parade, work with administrators to plan LGBTQ programming including expanding the mental health curriculum to cover LGBTQ issues, connect with guidance program at my high school and work with them to develop LGBTQ resources, and build social justice awareness in my town: in order to create a space that is able to draw more support combine the focus on LGBTQ issues with an overall focus on social justice.
Meghna is a rising sophomore from Madison, Wisconsin, pursuing a Program II major on the pre-medical track that explores perceptions of aging and dying and their subsequent impacts on healthcare quality and access. Her project, Lives in Print, is a virtual memoir-writing program for the elderly that seeks to encourage seniors to revisit the richness of their long lives and share their stories with others. Through a pen-pal partnership with a student volunteer, seniors will be able to respond to questions or explore their past on their own terms, and send their writing back to be published online. Memoir-writing has long been recognized as a proven way to keep the brain sharp and active through pulling from the past, but even more importantly, Lives in Print seeks to remind seniors and those around them of their importance and value as the eldest and wisest members of our community.
Alina is a sophomore from Sunnyvale, California studying biology and statistics. Currently, the COVID-19 crisis has placed unprecedented responsibility on news and media outlets to present updates on inherently scientific topics to the public. Her project aims to characterize significant findings and progress reported in scientific literature on COVID-19. The project will present an accessible and reliable online platform localizing scientific research and medical resources for communities during the crisis.
Kishan is a rising sophomore majoring in Public Policy and Political Science interested in social justice, human rights, and activism. His project will create a historical retelling of the events that transpired regarding his town council’s 2015 rejection of a proposed mosque in Basking Ridge, NJ, the ensuing legal battle, and its aftermath through video interviews, email correspondences, public information, and town sentiment on both sides of the sharply divisive issue. Hopefully, this would allow for mosque proponents/opponents to better understand the issues regarding what happened, issues with each other, and decrease animus in his hometown. By analyzing both what occurred and then creating a retelling either through a video, web, or text-based platform, he believes this project can give clarity to what happened and allow the town to move forward, something that might help bind together communities grappling with issues of discrimination and prejudice.
Maya Ghanem is a freshman from Thousand Oaks, California with interests in the intersection of energy, environment, politics, and healthcare. Her project aims to address food insecurity for uninsured, low-income patients at Westminster Free Clinic, who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The project entails the distribution of produce and proteins to patients, fundraising to provide gift cards for perishables to patients, the inauguration of a program where homeowners can donate extra produce for Westminster Free Clinic patients, and the beginning of a food delivery system to homes of the elderly and patients without consistent transportation.
Sunrita is a rising junior from Atlanta, Georgia majoring in Economics and minoring in Statistics and German. Working with the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF), she will try to help alleviate the growing issue of housing insecurity in Durham by finding and connecting Durham residents facing housing challenges with resources to support them in their search for housing and in the move-in process. In addition, she wants to improve content and efficiency of the current CEF resource database, develop trainings to teach other interns and volunteers to address housing issues, and become involved in outreach efforts to landlords to increase apartment units available to those ending their homelessness. By supporting people who are ending their homelessness, she can help to enhance Durham’s health and educational outcomes, which are known to be significant drivers of economic growth and development.
Hadeel is pursing a double major in Political Science and International Comparative Studies with a concentration on the Middle East. Howard County boasts one of the best public school systems in Maryland; however, the county is also one of the most socio-economically segregated counties in the state. Participation in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program (FARM) ranges from less than 1% in some schools to upward of 50% in other, typically under-resourced schools. This research project will use a mixed-methods approach to investigate how and why Howard County school districts are socio-economically segregated, evaluate redistricting and integration plans, and discern public sentiment about the issues. This data will be visualized and presented in the form of a research report, counter cartography map, and website to raise awareness about the complex relationships between race, socio-economic status, and quality of education in the county.
Gautam is a rising sophomore in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences pursuing majors in Public Policy and Economics. His project will investigate the effect of the Silicon Valley tech boom on local communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a focus on cultural displacement in Mountain View, CA. Corporations that move into the area often promise to keep the community intact through several housing and community engagement schemes, but do these schemes work? The 10-minute divide between Google’s waterfront Mountain View campus and the RV camp of low-income workers on Mountain View’s Crisanto Avenue seems to respond with a resounding “no”. In Podcast form, this project will look further into that question and the question of what’s being done to fix the stunning inequality that it represents.
Ashil is a rising junior from New Jersey double-majoring in Political Science and Computer Science with a minor in Economics. His project will involve analyzing a dataset from the state of New Jersey to evaluate the effects of its 2017 bail reform law on pretrial detention, prosecutorial discretion, and the efficacy of risk assessment algorithms. The project will also explore how New Jersey’s Office of the Public Defender responded to the COVID-19 crisis while continuing to provide essential legal services to indigent defendants. The project aims to gauge unintended consequences of NJ’s bail reform law, as well as provide a summary for how the state treated vulnerable populations during a pandemic.
Erica Langan is a rising junior majoring in Biology and minoring in Linguistics, a runner, violinist, writer, and native Cincinnatian. The homeless population of her hometown of numbers over 7,000; for most of these individuals, following social distancing orders is nearly impossible, making them extraordinarily vulnerable to community spread of COVID-19. In this project, she plans to design and organize a virtual race to raise money for a local charitable organization that is working to support Cincinnati’s homeless population during this challenging time. Through this work and close partnership with this charitable organization, she hopes to gain a better understanding of the needs of Cincinnati’s homeless population while demonstrating how a community can come together (while remaining a safe distance apart).
Michael is a rising third-year who is majoring in biology and minoring in English. His project aims to address a literary crisis that has plagued students in the Chicago Public Schools district due to a lack of learning resources, all of which have been magnified by strict quarantine orders. A virtual platform will be implemented to allow for these students and families to share their stories–their hardships, hopes, or dreams. In response to these stories, he will deliver them a free, personalized book and offer a story of his own with words of positivity.
Sophia is an undergraduate student from Acton, Massachusetts pursuing a major in Neuroscience and a minor in Photography. Using a combination of documentary and artistic approaches, she will create a narrative photo essay that tells the story of what it is like to be a small-scale local farmer in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This will involve taking photos of, interviewing, and working on a number of sustainable local farms/homesteads in my community. During this time, she will also assist as a volunteer fieldworker on these farms in order to truly understand sustainable agriculture as a way of living.
Catherine is a junior studying history and education. The goal of her project is to combine research with advocacy. She plans on learning more about the history of Charlotte through interviews and local research. She also plans to chronicle her work with Greater Charlotte Area Mutual Aid and other local initiatives.
Jonah Perrin is a B.N. Duke Scholar in the Class of 2023 from Chapel Hill, NC, who enjoys studying politics, ethics, social justice, and philosophy. In his project he plans to examine local candidates, who already face many challenges while trying to get elected, and the trouble they are having connecting with their local communities over Zoom during the pandemic. He hopes to conduct in-depth research with these campaigns, their candidates and voters to try to understand how candidates plan to adapt under adverse conditions, the kind of ethical challenges campaigns will face while trying to increase familiarity and the changing definitions of civic engagement and representation of local candidates dealing with the Coronavirus.
Wesley Pritzlaff is a rising senior from Rolesville, NC and the founder of the Duke Sleight Club, a sleight of hand magic teaching and performing student organization through which he has taught magic at Duke for two years. His project aims to protect mental health by promoting mental and emotional wellbeing during COVID-19 in Rolesville, NC through a six-week virtual sleight of hand magic course. The sleight of hand magic course consists of weekly education sessions to share about the role of magic in the human condition, technique and trick tutorial sessions to learn sleight of hand magic, and discussion sessions to explore the power of art during trying times. This project strives to forge new connections to foster belonging and community, inspire hope to cultivate optimism and ambition, and practice mindfulness to reduce stress and increase contentedness.
Swetha is from Chandler, Arizona, and she is double majoring in Biology and Global Health with a minor in Education. In 2010, Arizona enforced the SB 1070 law, otherwise known as the “Supporting our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” and this law essentially requires state and local law enforcement to reasonably attempt to determine the immigration status of a person involved in a lawful stop, detention, or arrest “where reasonable suspicion exists.” The racial profiling brought on by SB 1070 exacerbates the medical environment of present times because it reduces the chances of immigrants accessing preventative healthcare or delaying necessary medical services due to fear of deportation. Her project aims to increase access to healthcare for immigrants while also protecting their inhabitance within the United States by establishing a connection for patients to anonymously access tele-health services and through research working to further evaluate the flaws of the SB1070 law in the scope of healthcare.
Pratamesh is a rising sophomore pursuing majors in Biology and Global Health. Finance For All is a project that seeks to impart financial education knowledge to mainly students who do not have the opportunity to attend college or pursue higher education. This project will yield a four to five week online course that will be constructed with the help of local business professionals that can be taken by students to develop financial literacy and other key skills in the workforce that are not taught in high school. The end goal of this project is to tackle socioeconomic inequalities and provide tools for students to become future business leaders in their respective communities.
Bigyan Babu Regmi
Bigyan is pursuing a bachelor of science in economics and is passionate about international development, politics, and policy-making. This summer, he will pursue a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods to appropriately model the short- to medium-run future trends for international labor migration and poverty. He will primarily focus on the job market in the Middle East and migrant workers from South Asia. The end product of this project will be a publishable report.
Arsha is a rising sophomore from Charlotte, NC studying Neuroscience with the intention to pursue medicine. Her project will analyze the work of non-profit organizations, local governments, and leaders of society who have come together in an unprecedented way to help their community with multiple projects ranging from mask-making to food drives. “How are people deciding the dissemination of resources?” “What logic guides their choices?” “How can these resources be distributed equitably?” She will be analyzing the dissemination of resources by multiple organizations in order to understand the moral psychology and address social inequity.
Emma is a rising junior majoring in Political Science with a minor in Classical Studies and a PPE certificate. Her project is virtual advocacy through the creation of a website that compares information on the changes to Alberta healthcare worker pay and COVID-19 data, including cases, deaths, and testing. Focusing on the potential regional disparities in AHS budget changes and Covid-19 response, particularly for rural regions, information is from each Albertan district is compared. In order to promote political accountability and raise awareness for this issue, methods of communication with provincial politicians and legislators are facilitated through the site.
Amelia is a rising Junior from San Francisco majoring in International Comparative Studies, minoring in History, and Pre-Medicine. Her project entails working on a UCSF Neurology study that analyzes concussions in collegiate athletes. The project will work to further develop a device worn on the head that has the potential to improve diagnosis of neurological trauma. The goal is to prevent student athletes from having to choose between their sport and their health.
Justin is a rising sophomore from Shenzhen, China intending to major in philosophy and political science. His project will be presented in the form of a documentary that focuses on one particular urban village, Baishizhou, located within the busiest and most modern district in Shenzhen, China, that is going to be dismantled and redeveloped soon. The documentary will dive intl the history of Baishizhou within the context of the rapid urbanization of Shenzhen during the past few decades. It will also offers a glimpse into life in Baishizhou now and its cultural vibrancy as well as a discussion on Baishizhou’s future and whether redeveloping will lead to the best outcome.
Megan is a junior from Tampa, Florida who is majoring in biology and aspiring to be a doctor working in orthopedics. Her project works to increase accessibility to adaptive climbing in the Triangle area and to make Duke’s adaptive climbing program more inclusive to a more diverse range of disabilities and ages. By designing custom 3D printed rock climbing hold molds, creating a manual on how to be an effective aide when working with adaptive climbers, and designing an informative pamphlet/flyer on the program, Duke’s adaptive climbing program will be able to reach more of the disabled community. This project allows her to share her love for climbing and help make climbing a sport that anyone can enjoy.