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Creating a Future Worth Wanting

The Re-Imagining Tech Fellowship, sponsored by Kenan Institute for Ethics, Trinity College, and Pratt School of Engineering, will offer 15 students pursuing or intending to pursue majors in engineering and computer science at Duke University an interactive summer program exploring the intersection of ethics and technology.

Fellows will receive a $1,000 stipend; meet weekly on Wednesday evenings in June/July for program events featuring speakers, discussions, hands-on activities and community building; and participate in a 1:1 mentorship program.

 

Why Re-Imagine?

In her book Technology and the Virtues, Shannon Vallor investigates what it will take to create “a future worth wanting.”  As engineers and computer scientists, you have the capacity to contribute to this future by designing, building, and implementing ethical, human-centered technologies and putting data to work for good. In this Fellowship program, the Kenan Institute for Ethics invites you to explore the ways that engineers and computer scientists can use their education and skills to affect the common good—to consider what that looks like in practice and to think critically about the consequences of building things that exist in the world and affect people.


This Fellowship is a program of The Purpose Project. The Purpose Project, sponsored by The Duke Endowment, makes matters of character, questions of purpose and explorations of one’s life’s work signature features of the Duke experience.

The Program

We will kick off our program in mid-May with a welcome event for introductions and orientation. During June and July, we will meet in the evening once a week with guest speakers from industry, government and civil society for discussions and problem-solving activities focused on the following questions:

  • How do we move from what we CAN do to what we SHOULD do? What does it mean in practice to “do no harm”? And how do we affirmatively “do good”?
  • What do you do when you are asked to do something you think is wrong at work?
  • What are strategies to manage work in gray areas, problems with more than one “right” answer,” and problems that cannot be “solved” in an objective way?
  • What historical and sociological understandings must inform our work to ensure technology is just, fair, humane and equitable?
  • What does it mean to work with character, a sense of meaning and purpose, and to contribute to the public good?
  • How do we design and make with thoughtful intent and cultural competence?
  • How should we describe the broad skillset needed to be a “good” engineer or computer scientist?

As we consider these questions in the context of professional life and current events, we will focus on the broader implications of the work of engineers and computer scientists for society as a whole and the importance of creativity, the human element, and reasoning in context.  We will explore civic virtues—civility, justice, inclusion and service—and the moral and intellectual virtues that promote contributions to the public good: autonomy, judgment, honesty, and empathy.

The Fellowship will also connect students with industry mentors and offer opportunities for mentor engagement during the summer. When we return to campus in the Fall, the Program will include two events, a wrap-up Summer in Review conversation and a final (hopefully in person) event to celebrate the conclusion of the program.

Please note that the Fellowship is designed to complement and be an activity in addition to a summer job or other commitment.