Looking Ahead: 2015

The year 2014 ends at the end of tomorrow. This is the season to cast judgments on the seasons that preceded it; it is also a time for gathering (read: mustering) optimism for the year ahead. This optimism will inevitably flitter and fry and become barely perceptible by the time next December, and especially the end of December, rolls around. But I don’t think this pattern precludes optimism, or hope, or anticipation in the first place; this is the material of which conversations are made, and had. These are the things that will sustain us over the next 12 months, and beyond. In that spirit I’ve rounded up several events and programs Kenan will present, or have a part in presenting, this spring semester; I have great hope that these events will get people talking, and sharing, and creating new resolutions that may not necessarily begin with the new year.

  1. Kenan’s new Practitioners in Residence program: In many ways, the 2014-15 academic year seems a boon in residencies for Kenan. In the fall, we hosted author Eula Biss, and starting this spring we’ll ring in a new practitioner-in-residence series that aims to engage professionals from various fields whose work intersects with ethics in interesting ways. In January we’ll be visited by civil rights attorney Shavar Jeffries, and in February we’ll host Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for President Obama.
  2.  Speaking of practitioners in residence, acclaimed author Leslie Jamison will visit Kenan, Duke, and Durham as part of the inaugural Kenan-CDS Visiting Writers Series. Jamison’s essay collection The Empathy Exams has landed on just about every “best-of-2014” list imaginable (and, it’s worth noting, so has Eula Biss’s On Immunity), and we’re excited she’ll be here to participate in a public reading as well as several other events open to the Duke and local communities. KIE’s Communications and Advancement Manager Katherine Scott made a short video in which I talk all about Jamison’s residency; you can watch it here.

    Tony C. Johnson and dancer rehearsing.
  3. Last year it was the American South; this year it’s New York, Havana, and Dublin (among others). Spring 2015’s Ethics Film Series, “Sound Beliefs: Music, Ethics, Identity,” will examine the intersections of music—as performed, written, and embodied in public and private space—and identity. As it happens, these themes often collide in cities, and global cities at that. We’ll begin the four-film series with the 2007 feature film The Visitor, and continue with a very timely presentation of the documentary Buena Vista Social Club in February.
  4. The Language of Genocide and Human Rights, a Humanities Writ Large and Bass Connections jointly funded project, will continue to meet throughout the spring months and will culminate with a series of events including a conference and exhibition coinciding with Holocaust Remembrance Day. Read more about the project here and read a field paper authored by one of its participants here.
  5. Keep a lookout for programming created by the newly formed group of Student Human Rights Fellows, a program supported by the Duke Human Rights Center at KIE. First up is “Embodying History Through Dance: The Civil Rights Movement,” a performance and discussion with local choreographer Tony C. Johnson and AAAS and Dance professor Thomas DeFrantz.
  6. More Ethics Book Clubs! Since a recent article in Working at Duke, the Ethics Book Clubs have been a hot topic. The spring will mark the beginning of a new staff book club in the Program of Education and the Service Learning Program. Stay tuned for more.

There will of course be our yearly standards, including What is Good Art competition and exhibition, spring Campus Grant applications, and co-sponsored events, residencies, and programs. Check out our current listing of spring events here. And, of course, I’ll be here on the Insider to write about whatever else happens, as it happens.

P.S.: Here are two end-of-2014 lists I enjoyed reading: literary website The Millions’s Best of the Millions 2014, and Rebecca Solnit’s roundup of women speaking up and out in 2014.