Student tech policy challenge.

 Deadline: April 12, 2019

The Kenan Institute for Ethics invites students to develop a regulatory or policy idea to address the ethics of emerging tech.

Application Information

Eligibility: All Duke undergraduate and graduate students

Length: 1,000-2,000 words (approximately 2-4 pages double-spaced)

Deadline: April 12, 2019, 5:00 p.m.

Submission (via Google Forms)Register and Submit Essay!


Essays may focus on a variety of tech policy challenges and perspectives. Essays must include descriptive research and normative prescriptions for institutional responses based upon considerations that include ethics, policies to promote societal well-being, civil rights and liberties, and human rights.

Format and Components

Essays may follow a traditional format or a policy memorandum format. Below please find sample formats.


Part I: Description of Tech Policy Problem
Part II: Discussion of Research on Benefits and Potential Risks Posed by Emerging Technology
Part III: Proposal of Proposed Regulation/Law/Tech Policy Solution


Description of Tech Policy Problem
Discussion of Research on Benefits and Potential Risks Posed by Emerging Technology
Proposal of Proposed Regulation/Law/Tech Policy Solution
Action Recommended

Discussion of Benefits/Risks

Emerging tech can pose benefits and risks simultaneously. Therefore, the policy proposal can highlight how implementation might result in enhanced protections and exacerbate problems (e.g., social, economic, environmental, health, etc. impacts).

Potential Topics

Any tech policy challenge can be the topic of focus for the essay or policy memorandum, including: (1) algorithmic discrimination; (2) cybersecurity and information security/data breaches; (3) behavioral microtargeting and ad tech; (4) regulation of autonomous vehicles; (5) regulation of artificial intelligence and data governance; (6) autonomous weapons; (7) limiting encryption; (8) censorship of the Internet or social media; (9) foreign interference in elections and “fake news”; (10) cybercrime and cyberwarfare; (11) critical infrastructure; (12) cyber attribution of cyber attacks; (13) accuracy of predictive analytics; (14) privacy enhancing technologies; (15) algorithmic transparency and accountability; (16) data ethics and cyber ethics; (17) cyberbullying and cyber harassment; (18) cyber diplomacy and Internet freedom; (19) net neutrality; (20) cybersurveillance; etc..

Potential Tech Policy Solutions

Any tech policy solution can be proposed as part of the prescription to the tech policy problem or the risks of innovation, so long as the solution considers the ethical dimension of the proposal. Potential topics could include, for example: (1) regulatory policy, rules, and standards; (2) administrative enforcement by federal agencies; (3) legislative reform; (4) privacy enhancing technologies; (5) influence of privacy advocacy organizations, policy think tanks, and other non-governmental organizations; (6) policy activism; (7) hacking; (8) industry self-regulation and internal corporate compliance standards; etc.

Criteria for Evaluation

Entries will be evaluated on the following criteria: (1) Identifying an Emerging Tech Challenge; (2) Considering the Ethical, Social and Practical Factors in Designing a Policy Solution; (3) Recognizing Implementation or Other Barriers; and (4) Clarity and Quality of Writing and Presentation.


Teams of students may submit a policy proposal and the prize will be divided among all members of the team (e.g., if 2 students jointly enter a submission and a 2-person team is selected for the first place award, each student will receive 50% of the first place cash prize). If a team is comprised of a combination of undergraduate student(s) and graduate student(s), the team will be evaluated as a under the graduate student category.

Office Hours

Students interested in submitting an Essay or Policy Memorandum can request to meet with a member of the Kenan Institute for Ethics on Monday, April 1 or Monday, April 8. Email Malakha Mathama Bility <> to set up a meeting.

Finalists’ Award Breakfast

Award Finalists will present on Friday, April 19, at 8:00 am.  Finalists will be informed by no later than 5:00 pm EST on Monday, April 15, that their submissions have been selected for a mandatory, 5-minute presentation during the Finalists’ Award Breakfast in the Ahmadieh Family Conference Room, West Duke Bldg. Room 101.

Monetary Prize and Other Awards

Prizes will be awarded in each category of Undergraduate and Graduate Student – Duke undergraduates and graduate contestants will be evaluated separately. Students selected for the Award will receive notice of selection by no later than 5:00 pm EST, Friday, April 25. First prize: $750; Second prize: $250. Students will receive a check via mail if unable to pick up award. Selected recipients shall provide the Kenan Institute for Ethics with an appropriate address to send check. Selected submissions will be published on the Kenan Institute for Ethics website (

Register and Submit Essay!