The Institute regularly partners with organizations at Duke and beyond to provide workshops on various topics, including the Ethics of Engagement, a required training program for all students preparing for national and international civic engagement projects through DukeEngage.
These case studies were used as teaching tools in Institute workshops or were developed by students.
Campus Speech Controversy (2017)
Download case study with ethical frameworks, discussion questions, and appendices (pdf)
Use the ethical frameworks of free speech and identity politics to address the normative issues surrounding free speech on college and university campuses.
Key words: free speech, identity politics, university, college
Use the ethical frameworks of utilitarianism and Rawlsianism to the arguments for and against net neutrality, and the different regulatory solutions to ISPs potentially blocking content.
Key words: net neutrality, internet, regulation, utilitarianism, Rawls
Use the ethical frameworks of deontology and consequentialism to examine the origins of the Safe Harbor agreement, the NSA’s PRISM program, and subsequent invalidation of the agreement.
Key words: privacy, NSA, regulation, EU, deontology, consequentialism
Use the ethical frameworks of deontology and consequentialism to consider whether political comedians should follow the ethical code appropriate for entertainers and comedians (which they identify with) or whether they should be bound by an ethical code more similar to that of journalists (which the public increasingly identifies them with).
Key words: political satire, Daily Show, humor, media, civic engagement, deontology, consequentialism, role ethics
Use the ethical frameworks of justice and rights to address the legal issues of online privacy and freedom of information surrounding the EU’s new “right to be forgotten.”
Key words: privacy, reputation, regulation, justice, rights
Use the frameworks of deontology and consequentialism to analyze the ethics of the war film American Sniper, released in late 2014. Starring Bradley Cooper, the film chronicles the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle from the perspective of his 2012 autobiography.
Key words: moral, emotions, consequences, narrative, conflict
Use the ethical frameworks of utilitarianism and Rawlsianism to address the regulatory issues of collaborative consumption, specifically the companies Airbnb and Uber.
Key words: fairness, regulation, economy, justice
Using a moralism/moderation and hypocrisy/integrity ethical framework, identify where democratically elected parties and politicians in Egypt and Tunisia after the Arab Spring best fit and whether such an observation provides meaningful insight into the political decision making of these parties.
Key words: hypocrisy, integrity, moralist, moderate, political ethics
The coordinator of a civic engagement program must decide whether or not to acquiesce to the demands of the programs drivers for better hotel accommodations, when doing so would clearly challenge local cultural norms.
Key words: civic engagement, community service, norms, cultural pluralism, moral pluralism, fairness
A student intern at an NGO that assists ethnic-minority groups is asked by his supervisor to pass off one individual’s scholarship application for another. Other interns in the NGO office help the student decide what to do.
Key words: civic engagement, community service, fairness, norms, collaboration
A student interning at a domestic non-profit is frustrated with having to assume the tasks of a receptionist, rather than working on the projects for which she had planned.
Key words: civic engagement, community service, collaboration, fairness
A student working for an American volunteer-based organization in Kenya must decide how best to allocate the funds she has raised for her project.
Keywords: civic engagement, community service, individuals, community, responsibility
A student working in La Carpio, a Costa Rican slum, faces pressure from a local church congregation doing charity work in the same area.
Keywords: civic engagement, community partner, volunteer, compromise
A student working in a Costa Rican slum community must decide how to respond to a request for financial assistance from a local woman she has befriended.
Keywords: civic engagement, aid, friendship, justice, mercy
This case study examines the ethics of altruism through the lens of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. Is altruism always good? Do moral agents ever truly behave altruistically?
Keywords: altruisum, egoism, love, wellbeing, good, happiness, selfless
Abraham Lincoln and Henry David Thoreau were both morally opposed to slavery, but expressed their opposition in different ways.
Keywords: hypocrisy, integrity, moralist, moderate, obedience, conscience, law
In Season Four of HBO’s The Wire, Mayor Tommy Carcetti must choose between his long-term political ambitious and the short-term needs of his city.
Keywords: hypocrisy, integrity, moralist, moderate, political ethics, ambition
A student working in an academic and mentoring program in a Durham, North Carolina, housing project must decide how to respond to a disruptive 6-year-old whose mother needs the childcare the program provides to stay in her own job.
Keywords: civic engagement, community service, urban poverty, applied ethics
An American student at a civic engagement site is faced with the choice of whether, against the express wishes of the community, to take an HIV-positive child on a dangerous overnight drive to a medical clinic.
Keywords: study abroad, civic engagement, community service, AIDS, applied ethics
Product (RED) encourages private corporations to donate money to public health organizations in developing countries and has raised a great deal of money for Africa, yet the program is not without its critics.
Keywords: hypocrisy, integrity, moralist, moderate, charity, profit, philanthropy, incentives