Yolonda Wilson back at Kenan

On Monday, the Kenan Graduate Fellows in Ethics seminar series welcomed back Yolonda Wilson, a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Philosophy department and former Duke employee. Dr. Wilson is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Howard University and is in residence as a 2019-2020 fellow at the National Humanities Center in RTP. Her research spans bioethics, social and political philosophy, race theory, and feminist philosophy.

She explained to the graduate fellows, “Anything I do has to matter.” For Dr. Wilson, this means not only conducting research on pressing social issues, but communicating that research through op-eds, public commentary, and other media as well as through traditional academic channels. She blogs regularly on her own website as a way to explore new ideas and avenues of research and writes op-eds and longer-form pieces for outlets like USA Today.

"anything i do has to matter" - yolanda wilson


She encouraged the graduate fellows to think about how to meaningfully share their expertise with public audiences. Public scholarship also feeds back into her academic career, Dr. Wilson explained. A piece she wrote for The Conversation, “Why black women’s experiences of #MeToo are different,” was picked up by multiple news outlets across the country, and led to a contract to edit an academic volume on feminist philosophy and #MeToo. As a 2019-2020 Encore Public Voices fellow, her writing on bioethics, race, and gender has been widely recognized. In blog posts such as “Dying while black,” which was featured in Salon, Dr. Wilson explored ideas of justice and trust in medical care. Now, she is developing these ideas into the book project she is writing during her NHC fellowship, Black Death: Racial Justice, Priority-Setting, and Care at the End of Life.

Yolanda Wilson

The Monday Seminar Series is part of the Kenan Graduate Fellowship in Ethics.  Each year, the Kenan Institute for Ethics awards 10 to 15 fellowships to outstanding graduate students at Duke University whose dissertation research engages in interesting ways with significant normative issues. 

Amber Díaz Pearson works on research and programming with the Religions and Public Life Initiative and the Kenan Graduate Fellows Program, along with survey research, data analysis, and writing for the Education for Civic and Moral Responsibility project. She also manages the KIE Campus Grants Program and the Moral Purpose Award essay competition, and is responsible for educational program assessment at the Institute.

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