ReMed Summer Fellowship enters final stretch

In the final week of the summer intensive, the Reimagine Medicine (ReMed) fellows are stretching for new ways of thinking about healing, the central characters in the medical narrative, and their (future) role in the process.

Rabbi Steve Sager, as part of the Spirituality series, demonstrated the power of stories to shape our understanding of words like “care and cure,” “heal and whole.” He encouraged students to pay attention to those things they glimpse “out of the corner of the eye” as significant to people’s sense of self and wellness.  As part of the History of Medicine series, students researched and reported on clinicians who have re-imagined and thereby changed medicine over the past century—Aaron Moore, Sara Josephine Baker, Cicely Saunders, Charles Drew, Paul Farmer, and Abraham Verghese.  TuanDat Nguyen hosted our visit to the North Street Neighborhood, a Durham community where people with and without disabilities live and thrive together. After a tour, pizza lunch, and conversation with residents, we had an impromptu sing-along, including “Lean on Me.”

This week, students are preparing to tell their own stories of how ReMed has sparked their imagination, broadened their perspective, or clarified their view of the future. Songia Wynn, a rising AAAS major from Charlotte, NC, commented on a favorite experience by sharing, “Embodiment and Puppetry was really impactful; it was a novel experience, but I learned a lot from Marina.”

Throughout the program, artists take students outside traditional medical education with sessions on:

  • Art & Seeing—fine tuning visual perception by studying paintings and nature
  • Medical Improv—using improvisation techniques to develop conversational fluency and responsiveness
  • Graphic Medicine—using comics to convey medical concepts and stories, often from the patient’s perspective
  • Embodiment & Puppetry—accessing the embodied imagination through movement and puppetry
  • Music & Healing—showing and experiencing the power of music to soothe, connect, and heal

The ReMed Summer Fellowship runs through June 14 and more information about the program is available at DukeReMed.org


Dispatch from Kigali: Week One

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From left to right: Mahima Varma, Sara Kate Baudhuin, Tra Tran

As we drove up the winding drive to Maison Shalom, an NGO on the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda, children waved to us and shouted “good morning”. In Rwanda, Maison Shalom, supports a life of dignity for refugees living in exile. The organization prepares refugees for a constructive return to their homeland through education, psychosocial and economic support and programming. We three—a small team from the Kenan Refugee Project—are partnering with Maison Shalom to conduct a set of life story interviews with refugees hoping to understand how hope affects resilience in the face of displacement. If ever there were a hopeful place it is here at the Maison Shalom Oasis of Peace Community Center.

One of the many fascinating things about Maison Shalom is that it is an organization in exile. It is a Burundian organization in exile working on behalf of refugees from Burundi in Rwanda. After working in Burundi for more than two decades and supporting 10s of thousands of orphans, in 2015 during crisis in Burundi, Maison Shalom spoke against the violence and arrests. Its accounts were then frozen and all its work suspended by the government. Fleeing with just a handful of senior staff, they quickly reset up shop in Rwanda. And now Maison Shalom work both in Kigali and in Mahama, Rwanda’s newest and one of its largest refugee camps. Their focus on and hope for change undiminished. Through its pre-school program, its vocational trainings, third level educational support, psychosocial programs and more they are continuing to seed hopeful generational change.

We are excited to get our work underway.

The Kenan Refugee Project (KRP) is a community-based research and advocacy project at Duke University’s Kenan Institute for Ethics. Since 2010, KRP has collaborated with refugee communities across the globe to collect and share their stories.  As the “refugee crisis” permeates political discourse and media headlines, KRP looks beyond the facts and figures in an effort to understand the human implications of mass displacement.

Kenan Postdoc Joins Worldview Lab

Lauren Valentino was a graduate fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics in 2013-2014.  As a postdoctoral associate at Kenan this year, Valentino will work with Stephen Vaisey and the Worldview Lab by investigating how different people have different conceptions of “the good life,” and how these concepts are, in turn, related to people’s beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes about inequality.

“When I started my PhD in sociology, I always knew I wanted to study inequality in the United States, but joining the KIE community opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about this issue. I had never before considered how people’s moral worldviews are the basis upon which we as a society decide whether (or not) the stark inequality in our society is an ethical issue worth resolving.” 

The primary goal of Valentino’s research is to understand why it is that social inequality is so stubbornly persistent in the United States. She uses a culture and cognition approach to study how people think about their place in our increasingly unequal society. This approach typically involves using experiments, survey data, or interviews to probe or manipulate people’s beliefs and perceptions about the social world. Valentino explains, “In one line of work, I have studied people’s beliefs about the poor in America – who they think is poor and why. In my dissertation, I look at how people construct social hierarchies in the U.S. In particular, I chose to problematize a decades-old concept in social science – occupational prestige – to understand how the occupational hierarchy is socially constructed in diverse ways.”  Valentino has found that existing inequality in the labor market – especially gender and racial segregation of jobs – impacts the status people accord to occupations.  Additionally, a person’s social position – in terms of their gender, race, and social class background – shapes the way they view the occupational status hierarchy.

lauren valentino
Lauren Valentino

Worldview Lab is an interdisciplinary collaborative research group directed by Stephen Vaisey (Professor of Sociology and Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics) and Christopher Johnston (Associate Professor of Political Science). Its goal is to better understand diversity in values, goals, and worldviews both internationally and within contemporary American society.

“Techmakers” Retreats Build Community Among Women in the Technology Industry


While women now represent more than ½ of the US workforce, women continue to be comparatively underrepresented and underpaid in the tech field. Building on the Institute’s ongoing work in women’s leadership, women’s rights and purpose as well as the Technically Right initiative to address emerging issues in tech, the Kenan Institute for Ethics and I&E’s DTech program are teaming up to offer a series of Techmakers retreats to over 100 Duke undergraduate women interning with tech companies in Chicago, Seattle, Silicon Valley, San Francisco and RTP.

These retreats are designed to build a stronger community for women in the industry, enhance negotiation and communication skills in the workplace, and align values and sense of purpose with the work—all while thinking critically about the landscape for women in tech and the structural issues that sometimes get in the way of equity. Students will explore how to confront and overcome the ethical challenges and gendered barriers they will likely encounter. The weekend workshops are planned throughout the month of June.

2019 Graduate Inspired to Join Kenan’s Ranks

John Benhart at idaho signJohn Benhart (T’19) is the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ newest research associate, specifically the Kenan Refugee Project Fellow.  No stranger to the West Duke Building, Benhart has been involved with Kenan since his freshman semester at Duke as a student in the Ethics, Leadership & Global Citizenship Focus Program. Through a Focus class on refugees with KIE Director Suzanne Shanahan, he developed an interest in refugee and migrant experiences and participated in the MASTERY mentoring program. Subsequently, Benhart participated in the Duke Engage Ireland program, advising migrants in applying for Irish citizenship.

As a 2018 Kenan Summer Fellow, Benhart cycled 4,500 miles across the United States investigating definitions of community in smaller towns. As a senior, he was co-president of Kenan’s Global Citizenship and Ethics Living Learning Community, and also completed the Ethics & Society Certificate program.

Benhart credits his junior year with the Citizenship Lab as inspiration to continue on as a Kenan fellow.  The Citizenship Lab provides resources to refugee high school students in Durham and research opportunities for Duke undergraduates as a part of the Kenan Refugee Project.  Benhart explained, “My time in the Citizenship Lab gave me insight into the diverse challenges facing refugees here in the U.S., and how the Lab and KRP can foster self-advocacy in our students and help them reach their goals.”  This coming year, Benhart will be working to enhance KRP’s efforts to provide services for Durham’s refugee population and conducting research with these groups. 

Next year will be an exciting time for me as I become further involved with KRP and Kenan’s numerous initiatives. I am still exploring possible career paths, but my time at Kenan has ensured that being able to think ethically will always be an important part of my life.
– John Benhart (T’19)

Kenan is extremely excited to have Benhart’s enthusiasm, passion and talents for the upcoming year and will highlight his work through future posts.

ReMed Kicks-off with a successful first week

Last week, an innovative summer fellowship hosted by the Kenan Institute, Reimagine Medicine (ReMed), kicked-off its second year with an engaging and successful start. For rising juniors and seniors preparing for health professions, ReMed fosters the character, imagination, and practices needed to work effectively in contexts of human suffering. The curriculum uses graphic art, music, expressive writing, puppetry, embodiment, improvisation, and mindfulness to explore themes often ignored in traditional medical education.

The 18 ReMed Summer Fellows start each day with a group centering exercise followed by sessions in many disciplines, focused around the central metaphor of what happens “in the room” between doctor and patient. Week 1 emphasized “perceiving” (what & how we perceive and how we are perceived), in a series of sessions at the Nasher and Duke Gardens. The students also dived into non-traditional hospital shadowing experiences with Chaplains, Environmental Services, Hospice, Intensive Care Nursery, and Pediatric PT/OT, and built community during “family dinners” and debriefing sessions. Rising senior Leila Milanfar says of the program, “This is a really great program and I would like to continue learning in this way throughout med school, as well.” 

A team of physicians, faculty, artists, and healers have collaborated to develop this enriching and diverse summer program; but also joining the team as mentors and helpers are two returning students (“Boomerangs”), Akeim George & Ali Sloan.  Sloan describes week one as:

“Every member of the group brings something unique to the table and It’s just incredible to see everyone already learning from and supporting one another, whether it be in improv, mindfulness, expressive writing, or anything in between. This being my second time around, I find myself even more able to appreciate the opportunity, environment, and space that ReMed provides us to learn and grow as future medical professionals and, more importantly, as people. I’m so excited for everything to come over the next few weeks!”

The ReMed Summer Fellowship runs through June 14 and more information about the program is available at DukeReMed.org

Centering, Keith & Nugget 3 Centering_Nasher Art in Gardens 3
Art in Gardens 1 Songia_Garden Art & Seeing 5
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Reimagine Medicine is a collaboration among the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine, Science and Society, Duke Divinity School: Theology, Medicine and Culture, and the FHI Health Humanities Lab.

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