Suzanne Shanahan named Director of Notre Dame Center for Social Concerns

Suzanne Shanahan headshot in front of graphical backgroundSuzanne Shanahan, the Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Associate Research Professor in Sociology, will depart Duke on September 30, 2021 to serve as the new Leo and Arlene Hawk Director at the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame.

“Suzanne has served the Kenan Institute and Duke University in innumerable ways,” said Provost Sally Kornbluth. “She has championed curricular and co-curricular efforts to make moral purpose and character central elements of the Duke experience, and to create a culture where ‘Ethics Matters Everywhere.’”

Shanahan joined Duke in 1997 after earning her Ph.D. at Stanford and teaching at University College Dublin. During her 24-year tenure at Duke, she directed the Kenan Refugee Project, a six-country, community-based project on forced migration; ran the DukeEngage-Dublin program; and led multiple Bass Connections and Focus programs. She was appointed Associate Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics in 2007, co-Director from 2015-2017, and has been the Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Institute since 2017. Under her leadership, the Institute has expanded its portfolio to include ongoing work with more than 2,000 students, 150 faculty from all 10 schools, and more than 100 community partners in 36 countries. Most recently, Shanahan helped launch The Purpose Project at Duke, a multi-year, university-wide effort to make matters of character, questions of purpose, and explorations of one’s life work signature features of the Duke experience.

“For 14 years I have walked with a sense of wonder and joy from my house behind Duke’s Baldwin Auditorium across the first-year quad to the Institute in the East and West Duke Buildings, thinking how lucky am I to do such impactful work with such insanely talented students, staff, faculty, and community partners” Shanahan said. “Every day I was inspired by their alacrity, wisdom and commitment. Every day they made me laugh out loud. I am so very proud of what everyone has accomplished together and know the Kenan Institute will continue to flourish in new and different ways long into the future.”

David Toole, Associate Professor of the Practice of Theology, Ethics, and Global Health and Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Initiatives at Duke, will serve as interim director. Toole has a longstanding relationship with the institute, leading the Ethics & Society Certificate, the Purpose Project, and so much more. He will work closely with Ada Gregory, Associate Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, who will continue to lead the staff, day-to-day operations, and a range of programs with her usual focus. Inga Peterson, Associate Director of DukeEngage, will continue to lead DukeEngage.

Read the Notre Dame announcement.

Purpose Project 2021 Request for Proposals

Purpose Project
Call for Proposals

Due: May 15

Questions: Jesse Summers

The Purpose Project at Duke—a campus wide, faculty led effort cultivating moral purpose, fostering virtuous community and promoting flourishing professions. The project first began with a single class sponsored by the Arts & Sciences Dean of Academic Affairs to explore questions of purpose, meaning and wellbeing. But both faculty interest from across campus and student demand has enabled the effort to now include a broad and varied range of faculty led interventions including several dozen first year seminars taught by faculty across all divisions in A&S, undergraduate summer programs to engage students in what it means to pursue particular professions, winter break workshops to engage with particular questions or disciplines, year-long graduate and professional student workshops on purpose, race and the professions, signature classes for graduate/professional students, workshops for faculty and community members, work with alumni and more.

The effort is now funded by two 5-year grants from The Duke Endowment, one to the Provost Office focused on undergraduate education and the second to the Divinity School focused on graduate and professional education.

We are now seeking proposals from all schools for both undergraduate and graduate and professional (including projects that involve undergraduate and graduate/professional students together), curricular or co-curricular interventions and experiments that seek explicitly to do one or more of the following:

  1. Cultivate moral purpose or practical wisdom
  2. Foster virtuous community
  3. Promote flourishing professions

We are especially interested in proposals that are either a product of cross-school collaborations or bridge the undergraduate/graduate professional divide. A significant aspect of the project is development of innovative assessment tools to understand best practices around cultivating purpose and character and all selected proposals will participate in shared assessment.

Proposals should be no more than 3 pages in length and include a both brief budget and timeline. They should demonstrate clear departmental or school buy-in. Proposals will be considered in three categories: under $25,000; under $50,000; and under $100,000. We expect to award at least one grant in each category for next year.

Awards will be reviewed by a committee of faculty and administrators drawn from across campus.

Ethical Tech and Kenan Institute for Ethics Case Competition

Congratulations to the winning teams and a huge thank you to all participants!

1st Place: Nima Agah, Sebastian Williams and Sara Ann Brackett

2nd Place: James Gao, Shreya Joshi, Darshan Vijaykumar, Matthew Lee

3rd Place: Niharika Vattikonda, Jessica Edelson, Jonathan Browning



The Ethical Tech & Kenan Institute for Ethics Case Competition, co-hosted by Ethical Tech and the Technically Right program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, will give Duke undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to tackle a practical case challenge centered around technology and ethics in a multidisciplinary way. Problems will involve the issues of ethics, legality, privacy, business, and technical feasibility to give competitors a wide view of decision making.

Competitors will be assigned to or register as teams of 3-4 members. It is recommended that teams consist of members with varying backgrounds in engineering, business, policy, law, philosophy, computer science, economics, psychology, design, etc. Teams will be given the problem statement and case file two weeks before the awards are announced, during which time they are free to consult any sources, including professors, alumni, and working professionals.


1st Place Team: $1,250
2nd Place Team: $500
3rd Place Team: $250

Winning teams will have an opportunity to virtually meet with the competition judges who are experts from both the private and public sector. Winning submissions will be featured on the Kenan Institute and Ethical Tech websites.


Teams of 3-4 Duke undergraduate or graduate students will submit a creative solution to the case study provided in the competition packet. This year, students will be asked to consider the ethical, business, and policy implications of a company pursuing the development of facial recognition technology.


Registration Deadline: March 5, 2021 @5 PM EST
Teams Released: March 10, 2021 @8 AM EST
Prompt Released: March 12, 2021 @8 AM EST
Core Deliverable/Video Presentation Deadline: March 21, 2021 @5 PM EST
Awards Announced: March 27, 2021 (time TBD)
Contact: jhk33@duke.edu


Submission Guidelines 

***The Ethical Tech Exec Board will host office hours during the competition for participants to ask questions or address any concerns.
***Each submission will be judged on both the core deliverable and presentation.


David Hoffman

David Hoffman is the Steed Family Professor of the Practice of Cybersecurity Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy. He also formerly was the Associate General Counsel, Director of Security Policy and Global Privacy Officer for Intel Corporation.

Hoffman currently chairs the Civil Liberties and Privacy Panel for the Director’s Advisory Board for the US National Security Agency. He also chairs the board of the Center for Cybersecurity Policy and Law, and serves on the Advisory Boards for the Future of Privacy Forum and the Israel Tech Policy Institute. Hoffman also founded and chairs the board for the Triangle Privacy Research Hub, which highlights and fosters cybersecurity and privacy academic research done in the North Carolina Research Triangle.

Hoffman previously served on the Department of Homeland Security’s Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors of the National Cyber Security Alliance. He has also served on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Online Access and Security Committee, the Center for Strategic and International Studies Cyber Security Commission, the Steering Committee for BBBOnline, the TRUSTe Board of Directors and the Board of the International Association of Privacy Professionals. He is the author of many papers and articles on cybersecurity and privacy and has testified to Congress on these topics. Hoffman’s research and teaching has been aided by funding from Intel Corporation, The Crypsis Group, The Media Trust, and Mine.

Hoffman has a JD from Duke Law School, where he was a member of the Duke Law Journal. He received an AB from Hamilton College.

Karan Jerath

Karan Jerath is the youngest member on the 2016 Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Energy List, and a United Nations Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals. The 17 Young Leaders were selected from more than 18,000 nominations and work with the Office of the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth on efforts to engage young people in the realization of the Goals. His novel patented invention targets remediation methods for subsea oil spills, and has earned him the Intel Foundation’s Young Scientist award along with recognition from the Kingdom of Brunei, Kingdom of Bahrain, Emperor of Japan, and the Governor of Texas.

Last year, he filmed a documentary, now on Amazon Prime Latin America, titled ‘The Power of the Centennials’ with Bancolombia, the most sustainable bank in the world as reported by Dow Jones. The objective of the episode is to show a youth’s perspective on how leaders of multi-national corporations should operate, particularly around sustainability issues. He had direct conversations with the President and CEO of Corona Industries, a multi-billion dollar Colombian mining and ceramics company, and was ultimately able to have Corona Industries commit to issues around improving worker conditions and ergonomics, working towards closing circular economy gaps in operations, expanding investments to youth, and eliminating virgin plastic usage within their supply chain.

Additionally, he is the co-founder of KARTON, a social good transportation company in Zambia, Africa. KARTON’s mission is to bring technology and data to disrupt the transportation sector in the African continent. The company connects shippers and carriers moving freight and will ultimately invest in services like financial literacy and energy storage solutions to address the power shortages experienced within the country.

Amy Purcell

Amy is Chief Privacy Officer and Senior Counsel of The Vanguard Group, Inc.  Amy is responsible for leading Vanguard’s enterprise-wide Global Privacy Program and representing Vanguard on privacy-related legal issues. Amy manages a team of attorneys responsible for ensuring compliance with domestic and international privacy regulations, as well as privacy professionals responsible for the operation and implementation of Vanguard’s Global Privacy Program.

Prior to joining Vanguard, Amy practiced privacy and data security law for over 10 years at a Philadelphia law firm.

Amy earned a B.S. in Political Science from Susquehanna University and her J.D. from Cornell Law School.

Amy resides in Wayne, PA with her husband and three sons (including 6-year old twins).  In her free time, Amy enjoys spending time

Justin Sherman 

 Justin Sherman is co-founder and senior fellow at Ethical Tech at Duke University and a cyber policy fellow at the Duke Tech Policy Lab. He is also a fellow at the Atlantic Council, a research fellow at American University Washington College of Law, and a contributor at WIRED Magazine. Previously, he was a cybersecurity policy fellow at New America and a fellow at Duke Law School’s Center on Law & Technology. His writing on a range of technology issues has appeared in The AtlanticThe DiplomatForeign PolicySlate, and The Washington Post. He studied computer science and political science at Duke University.

Chenny Zhang

Chenny Zhang is a program manager at In-Q-Tel, the strategic investment firm for U.S. national security agencies, managing a portfolio of startups. Prior to In-Q-Tel, Chenny served as the China portfolio lead at the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Board (DIB), where she supported the AI ethics principles project, 5G report, and other initiatives. Before the DIB, Chenny was cofounder of a software startup in Beijing, overseeing product development and technical support. Prior to that, Chenny was a program manager at Cisco Systems. Chenny received an MA from Johns Hopkins, and a BA from Boston College. Chenny is participating as a judge in the Ethical Tech competition in her personal capacity

Religion in a Crisis: Faith Communities and COVID-19

“This pandemic shows us that our economic, social, political, [and] cultural systems are not working,” Imam Abdullah Antepli, Associate Professor of the Practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Duke Divinity School, announced to a gathering of more than 40 scholars, religious leaders, and students from around the globe.

This convening typically takes places annually as part of an international conference and summer school to confront the most pressing issues in religious traditions. This year’s virtualized event, hosted by the International Network on Interreligious Research and Education (INIRE), in collaboration with Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII (FSCIRE), highlighted how the pandemic challenged religious communities and also spurred them to action to confront those challenges.

Malachi Hacohen, Director of the Religions and Public Life Initiative at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and co-organizer of the event, commented that the Network’s aim “to address a central problem to religious traditions, explore innovative solutions and advance interreligious dialogue” seemed best directed to  the pandemic at this moment. As Alberto Melloni (Director of FSCIRE, Professor of History of Christianity at the University of Modena-Reggio) suggested, “COVID was asking religious communities, religious doctrines, and religions as faith systems to prove to be useful.”

Reflections from students and from leaders in the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions offered both justification and critique of the response to the global crisis and its impact on specific faith communities. Boaz Ordman, student from Rabbaney Bet Hillel, considered decisions by the Orthodox-Jewish establishment in Israel that prohibited synagogue attendance in an effort “to find the balance between the routine of life and dealing with this pandemic.” Ordman suggested Jewish law and religious reasoning ultimately influenced these closures, as “saving life supersedes shabbat.”

Imam Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini (CO.RE.IS) offered a more critical reflection on this “balance,” particularly surrounding the closing of Mecca. He underscored how “Worldwide, Muslim institutions” affirmed that “health is a priority, not only for ourselves and our communities, but also for humanity,” but that “religious authorities and believers need to somehow frame the balance between priorities [. . .]—we have to stress [health] and the emergency at the global level, but we cannot somehow forget our religious duties.”

Throughout the discussions, seminar participants aptly made connections to social justice issues, highlighting how the pandemic exposed and made more prevalent social injustices as well as how religion was and is instrumental in advancing movements like Black Lives Matter to address them.

Despite all these challenges, Carol Bakhos, Professor of Late Antique Judaism and Jewish Studies at UCLA, suggested that religion’s purpose might not be so different now: “what we see religion offering in a time of crisis is actually what religion always offers [. . .]—a sense of comfort, stability, belonging, and hope.”

If you would like to view recordings of the seminar sessions, please click here. To learn more about INIRE and the Religions and Public Life Initiative, please visit the Religions and Public Life website.





Racism, Police Violence, and Protests

In a lunch-hour conversation on Friday, June 5, the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ signature series, The Ethics of Now from Home broke from its weekly webinar schedule to quickly respond to George Floyd’s murder, racism, police violence, and public demonstrations happening all across the nation. In the conversation, “Racism, Police Violence, and Protests,” series host Adriane Lentz-Smith (Associate Professor of History), was joined by William A. “Sandy” Darity Jr. (Samuel DuBois Cook Distinguished Professor of Public Policy) for an insightful conversation followed by attendee Q&A.

Lentz-Smith and Darity reflected on the current pandemic’s role in exacerbating and amplifying deep-rooted problems, from the racial wealth gap to state-sanctioned destruction of black lives and property. “The kinds of inequalities that are linked to America’s racial history and its racial present were exposed dramatically by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Darity, “and I think that the murder of George Floyd, which was extraordinarily visible to everyone across the country, was an instance that brought to light another dimension of inequality, which is anti-black police violence.”

Despite this grim legacy, Darity was not wholly pessimistic about the rule of law and the Constitution. While “American police forces have disproportionately functioned as an ally in a white supremacist mission,” he noted that U.S. military leaders seem to have “deeply internalized the notion of their constitutional position and their constitutional status,” and have resisted using the military to repress protestors.

For Darity, effective policy solutions to police violence must uphold existing law and change the incentives for doing so.  “Policing practices are violating the written law on a continuous basis,” he reminded attendees. However, he suggested if penalties for police brutality – malpractice – were paid out of police pensions rather than municipal budgets; if qualified immunity were revoked; if police unions were less powerful; and if police forces were demilitarized, the incentive structures around policing would improve.

Prison abolition could also shift the focus and manner of policing. “[S]omething we really, really have to address is the enormous over-incarceration that takes place, and that has implications for the system of criminal justice writ large, and also for police practices,” Darity affirmed. “We would not have to have as much policing by any means if there were not a host of minor offenses we put black people in jail for.”
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In terms of what individuals can do, within and beyond the current nationwide protests, one attendee commented, “There does not seem to be a leader, although it seems that we are now in a movement.” Darity encouraged citizens to address the issues at all three levels of politics: municipal, state, and federal. He also emphasized a distinct, yet important role for a national consortium bringing together state and local governments, universities, and corporations to lobby Congress for reparations programs. Lentz-Smith noted that the emphasis on particular visionaries in the civil rights movement may overshadow the leadership that emerged from remarkable activist groups doing the work. “So it’s less a question of who do we look for to tell us what to do, but how do we work together,” she said.

The Ethics of Now from Home webinar series continues this Thursday, June 11th (7pm) with Professor Lentz-Smith and WLF Bass Connections Associate Professor in Public Policy Anna Gassman-Pines for the conversation “Well-Being for Children and Families during COVID-19.” View the full-length videos of previous webinars from the Kenan Institute’s YouTube channel.

Staff Ethics Book Clubs

Established in 2015, with close to 70 books having been read across 21 departments, the Ethics Book Clubs for Staff initiative seeks to foster an informal and fun conversational space for Duke staff to discuss works of fiction and non-fiction related, broadly, to ethics.

The Kenan Institute for Ethics invites departments to keep this form of engagement going in this moment of virtual learning through the creation or continuation of intra- or interdepartmental book clubs. To apply for seed funding ($500), which may be used to purchase books and supplies, please complete and submit the attached form to Jeremy Buotte (jeremy.buotte@duke.edu). Departments that have received seed funding in the past may apply again.

Expectations for all book clubs are as follows:

  • Clubs are open only to staff members from Duke departments and schools; clubs must be comprised entirely of Duke staff members
  • Clubs must engage issues surrounding ethics through their book selections and group discussions (sample book list available upon request)
  • Clubs are to meet virtually on a regular basis (weekly, biweekly, or monthly), preferably during work hours
  • Clubs should be open to convening with other book clubs, as is fitting (e.g., if the same book is being read by more than one department), for occasional group discussions

For more information, please contact Jeremy Buotte (jeremy.buotte@duke.edu).

DOWNLOAD the seed funding application form (PDF)