Kenan Summer Fellows Will Explore What It Means to Live an Ethical Life

Kenan Summer Fellows

Deadline: February 7, 2018

Kenan Summer Fellows spend a summer exploring—in a variety of ways—the answers to the question: What does it mean to live an ethical life? How? Design a project at home or abroad; implement a community-based intervention; compose a musical; volunteer with an NGO; write a play; or curate an art exhibit. As long as it provides a thoughtful, novel perspective of how to live an ethical life, it fits. Between five and six fellows will receive up to $5,000 and their faculty mentors will receive $500 to support their project.
Questions to explore might include, but are not limited to:

  • What is the place of integrity, sincerity, or steadfast truthfulness, in living an ethical life?
  • What are the qualities of character required to live an ethical life?
  • Does engaging in politics require compromising one’s ethical principles?
  • How do institutions nurture or impede people’s ability to lead more ethical lives?
  • What roles do or should normative principles play in shaping a specific public policy issue?
  • How should we define and balance our obligations of justice and care to fellow citizens, immigrants and refugees, human beings across the globe, and the injustices of the past?

Learn more. Please contact Suzanne Shanahan with any questions.


Fellows must:

  • Spend eight consecutive weeks between mid-May and mid-August 2018 exclusively on the project.
  • Provide weekly updates, questions, and concerns to their faculty mentor.
  • Write weekly reflections on their experience that will be published on the KIE website.
  • Submit a five-page final report critically examining their project.
  • Present their projects at a symposium in Fall 2018.


  • The program is open to Duke undergraduates who are in their first or second year of study at the time of application; preference given to Ethics & Society Certificate students.
  • Student with all backgrounds, experience, and interests are encouraged to apply.

Application Information

  • Applicants must submit a three-page proposal  (12 point Times Roman maximum, single spaced, 1 in. margins) outlining their summer project. Proposals should include what they mean by living an ethical life, a detailed explanation of the project and how it addresses the issue of living an ethical life, the overall project significance, in what ways they are prepared for this project, dates of project, and a detailed budget. Here is a sample proposal outline.
  • Proposals must include a cover page indicating the student’s graduation year and project title.
  • Applicants must have their faculty mentor write a one-page reference (maximum) indicating the faculty member’s willingness to mentor the project as well as the applicants preparedness and likelihood of successfully completing the project. This letter should also include a plan for interaction over the summer (e.g., weekly phone calls or check-ins via Skype).
  • Applications are due February 7, 2018 at midnight. Applications must be hand delivered to the front desk of the Kenan Institute (102 West Duke Building) with the faculty member’s letter in a sealed/signed envelope. No late applications or separate references accepted.
  • Note that funds from KSF cannot be combined with any other Duke summer research or fellowship resources.
  • If you are conducting research, you are required to go through the Campus IRB. We encourage you to start this process as soon as possible to avoid any delays in receiving your funds should you receive the fellowship.