rLab Call for Applications: “Debt — What We Owe to Each Other”

Regenerative Futures Lab tile featuring representations of mountains, trees, and human formsCreating something new with the tools of the old does not work. Our current systems are failing us — that is easy to see. But what might a new, better system look like?

Applications are now open for the 2024 Regenerative Futures Lab (rLab) sponsored by Kenan Institute for Ethics, Trinity College, and the Transformative Systems Project. Each semester, rLab will provide funding for several teams of students to search for paradigm shifting, regenerative answers to specific topical areas that will differ each year. The topical focus for the academic year 2023/24 is Debt – What We Owe to Each Other.

The Regenerative Futures Lab is a student-led research and action lab leveraging Duke’s resources to shift towards a regenerative economy. Students will work in teams of 4–5 to produce original results in the field of regenerative economics, policy, and activism. Both product and process of the students’ work will involve traditional and nontraditional pathways and final product components. The purpose of both product and process is to advance a regenerative future. In addition to the projects themselves, we will reflect upon concepts such as ecological economics, community-based research, and personal leadership growth in our weekly cohort meetings.

All teams will receive support from the director of rLab, and will actively seek collaborations and input from experts in the field, faculty, and outside organizations. This process aims to generate non-extractive relationships between cohort members and the world around them as an essential part of breaking down exploitative constructs of work and community.

This lab is for students who sense that something is fundamentally wrong with the system in which we live — and that we study to become part of. We are looking for people who are willing to question everything, even themselves. While having more questions than answers may feel hopeless, it is from this starting point that the lab begins. Our aim is to empower such students to think beyond mainstream/dominant paradigms and towards a future that centers wellbeing, reciprocity, safety, and justice

Our spring ’24 cohort has the option to continue working on the projects developed in the fall ’23 cohort, or to develop new projects of their own. See current team project descriptions here.

Application Deadline: December 31, 2023, 11:59pm

Program Dates: January 19 – April 24, 2024

Eligibility: Duke Undergraduate Student


All students will take part in a weekend workshop on regenerative economy hosted by the lab and explore possible subtopics before the lab meetings start. Students are expected to devote 6–8 hours a week to rLab. This time is split between lab/cohort meetings, independent research, and related events tied to the lab. Finally, the students are expected to present their research findings in a symposium at the end of the semester (tentatively April 26, 2024).

Award: Stipend of $1,200 per semester

Application Requirements

  1. 100-200 words on (a) background (if applicable) in regenerative/transformative thinking and work; (b) specific interest/focus on a post-capitalist or post-growth or post-colonial or post-extractivist future 
  2. 100-200 words in response to: “If I could wave a magic wand, what 2 or 3 major changes in the world would I propose?”
  3. 100-200 words on why you would like to join the lab
  4. A short essay on a topic that perplexes you and what you’ve done to make sense of it
  5. Indicate whether you have (1) taken a transformative course (such as wellbeing/care/feminist economics; post-colonial realities; indigenous narratives, etc); (2) been a member of Transformative Systems Project; (3) engaged in organizing or research efforts with a transformative systems groups and/or scholar (such as wellbeing or care econ, post-growth, BLM/Extinction Rebellion/Fridays for Future etc)  – none of the above in any way represent requirements


Apply Here