Team Kenan Fellowships Engage Students in Ethics Beyond the Classroom

Deadline: September 15, 2021

Team Kenan is a part of the Kenan Institute for Ethics’ social and intellectual community, creating spaces for students, faculty, and Institute staff to think and talk about ethics outside of the classroom in fun and engaging ways.

Team Kenan serves as a complement to the Institute’s curricular offerings, giving students who are interested in ethics additional opportunities to chat, think, and challenge one another and the wider Duke community.

Team Kenan.The team, made up of a diverse cross-section of Duke students, engages the Duke community through “couching,” Kenan’s mobile living room. Team Kenan members invite students to sit and discuss selected topics related to ethics. Meant to inspire spontaneous, unplanned moments of connection, the TK Couch brings ethical inquiry (and comfy chairs) to Duke students wherever they might be.

In addition to couching, Team Kenan also plans and participates in other events in coordination with the staff at the Institute. Team Kenan members are expected to be part of the Kenan community, which involves becoming familiar with and participating in Kenan’s wider programming.

Members of Team Kenan will develop interviewing and surveying skills, learn methods for effective communication in conversation, writing, and design, work on personal and professional presentation, and take part in event planning.

Team Kenan participants will receive a $1000 honorarium per term. The renewal of the contract for the spring semester is not automatic; members will be invited to continue as fellows based on their December evaluations.

Fellowship Activities

  • Lead Team Kenan “couching” sessions throughout Duke’s campus
  • Develop interviewing and surveying skills, learn methods for effective communication in conversation, writing, and design, and take part in event planning
  • Plan, participate in, and serve as ambassadors for Kenan’s wider programming


$1,000 honorarium


Wednesday, September 15, 2021 (11:59 PM)


Learn more and submit the online application form.


Contact Michael Grigoni at

Students Aim to Fill a Gap With Medical Ethics Journal

Journal cover; Sibani Ram.
Left: Cover of a recent edition of the Duke Medical Ethics Journal; right: Sibani Ram

Is Duke’s prehealth curriculum missing an important ethics component? A team of undergraduates founded the Duke Medical Ethics Journal (DMEJ) in 2019 to spark conversation and provide a forum for exploring the subject. The latest issue focuses on health and identity.  

Sibani Ram ’23 is co-president of the journal. “DMEJ has been the most rewarding part of my college experience,” she told the Kenan Institute for Ethics, where she is a member of the Ethics Living-Learning Community. “I am so deeply convinced that medical ethics has a transformative power – the power to transform ourselves and the structures through which we experience healthcare.”  

Katherine Zheng ’23 spoke with Ram to learn more.

Katherine Zheng.
Katherine Zheng

Zheng: Why is medical ethics an important area of focus for you?  

Ram: I think it’s essential because patients place so much trust in their healthcare providers. Medical ethics can help medical professionals better see patients as not just patients, but as people too. This is also what I deduced from the topics that people wrote about for the journal – from articles about women’s chronic illness to the LGBTQ+ community to children with disabilities, it’s crucial for healthcare providers to recognize that patients are people.  

Can you elaborate on what you think is missing in the premed curriculum?  

Many medical schools require a test called CASPer, which involves medical ethics decision-making. But to satisfy all the premed requirements at Duke, no medical ethics courses are required. The DMEJ is trying to inspire aspiring medical students to learn about ethics through a platform outside the classroom and perhaps even inspire them to take an ethics class outside of the premed curriculum before graduation, even if it isn’t mandated. 

Can you tell me about a story you contributed to the journal? 

I wrote an article called ‘Empathy for the Elderly,’ and it’s about how younger generations can write letters to the elderly in nursing homes to help them get through the isolation crisis that COVID-19 put them through. My sister started an initiative called ‘Lives Through Letters,’ where she brought together youth to write letters and bring them to different nursing homes. Because of this, I thought that this was a way to show empathy, and it was a concept that tied into medical ethics. 

Read the latest issue of the DMEJ and let the team know if you’re interested in getting involved.

Katherine Zheng is a rising junior majoring in Public Policy and Economics. She works as a student assistant in the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies. Sibani Ram is a rising junior majoring in Evolutionary Anthropology with minors in English and Chemistry.


Apply for a Graduate Fellowship with the Kenan Institute for Ethics

Kenan Graduate Fellowships.

Deadline: July 30, 2021

Each year, the Kenan Institute for Ethics awards between 10 and 15 fellowships to outstanding graduate students at Duke University.

Students from any Duke graduate program may apply. What each cohort of Graduate Fellows will have in common is that their dissertation research engages in interesting ways with significant normative issues. Some students, for example – from disciplines such as philosophy, political theory, or theology – focus directly on fundamental ethical or political concepts and theories. Other fellows, from the sciences and social sciences, try to understand phenomena that are relevant to major, and often controversial, public policy debates. Still others attempt to resolve debates in their areas of research that seem to be sustained by long-standing disagreements over both empirical claims and ethical or ideological commitments.

The aim of the ongoing discussions throughout the year, among the Fellows and KIE faculty members, is to enhance everyone’s ability to contribute to debates involving ethical issues, and to do so in ways that engage scholars and others within and outside of their own academic disciplines.

Ideal Graduate Fellow candidates will be in the third, fourth, or fifth year of their Ph.D. studies, finished all (or almost all) of their coursework requirements, but still developing new ideas and approaches for their dissertation research. Fellows each receive a stipend of $3,000 that supplements their current funding.

Graduate Fellows meet virtually for a Monday seminar about a dozen times across the Fall and Spring semesters. These seminars often feature visiting speakers and do not typically require preparation in advance. There are also two half-day workshops – one at the end of each term – in which Fellows showcase their own research.

To apply: e-mail the application, along with a copy of your CV, to with the subject line “Graduate Fellowship.”


For further information, email with “Graduate Fellowship question” in the subject heading.

Explore Immigration and Religion with a Graduate Fellowship

“Immigration and Religion II”

Deadline: July 31, 2021

Each year, Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics (KIE) funds a Graduate Student Working Group around a theme important to religion and public life. The program has made Immigration and Religion a focus of its current interests, and this year’s group will continue the work begun in 2020-21. Members of last year’s group are welcome to reapply but preference will be given to new applicants.

2021-22 Overview and Theme

The call is open to graduate and professional students wishing to take part in monthly interdisciplinary student-led seminars on “Immigration and Religion.” A wide variety of projects exploring this theme are welcome, including topics such as: Immigrant Religion, the Place of Religion in the Support of Displaced Communities, Religious Activists and Immigrant Rights, Religion in the Refugee Crisis, Migration and Theology, and Religion, Migration, and Identity.

Religions and Public Life at the Kenan Institute for Ethics explores the role of religions in historical and cultural context as they influence the lives of their adherents, interact with each other across time and geography, and contribute to the formation of institutions that make up the public sphere. It provides an interdisciplinary platform that puts scholars, students, and practitioners in conversation with one another through collaborative research, innovative teaching, and community engagement. Funding for the graduate scholars also comes from generous support from the Duke Center for Jewish Studies (CJS), the Duke University Middle East Studies Center, and the Gerst Fund.


The graduate scholars will have the opportunity to develop their research interests and discuss recent scholarship. Members take active part in the events of Religions and Public Life and commit to attending monthly meetings throughout the academic year. Graduate scholars will write a think-piece or blog post relating their research to contemporary issues, to be published on the Religions and Public Life website at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Additionally, scholars will take part in an end-of-year research conference. Scholars receiving CJS or DUMESC funding are expected to participate in at least two CJS or DUMESC events, respectively, during the academic year.


Graduate scholars receive $1,250 for full participation. The sum is provided in two payments, one in November and one in April.

Application and Deadline

To apply, please submit the materials listed below to Gair McCullough by 11:59 on July 31, 2021, with the subject line: “Religions & Public Life Graduate Scholars.” Awards will be announced by August 15.

  • Curriculum vita
  • Project description (1-2 pages) describing how it connects to the theme of “Immigration and Religion.” Please include your topic and research objectives.
  • Research budget

For further information, email Gair McCullough with “RePLi Graduate Fellowship Question” in the subject heading.

Re-Imagining Medicine Offers Undergraduate Fellowships for Summer 2021

ReMed logo.

Deadline: April 9, 2021

The Re-Imagining Medicine Fellowship (ReMed), sponsored by the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine, Trinity College, and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, will offer 15 pre-health Duke students a virtual, interactive summer program exploring the intersection of medicine, virtue and moral purpose.

ReMed seeks to foster the character, imagination and practices needed to work effectively in contexts of human suffering and healing. Leaders across disciplines — history, ethics, spirituality and expressive writing, as well as doctors and other healthcare professionals help students explore themes often absent in traditional medical education.

Fellows will meet weekly on Thursday evenings in June and July. Each Fellow will be paired with a medical mentor for additional engagement throughout the summer.

Fellows will receive a stipend of $1000.

Why Re-Imagine?

Virtually all graduates of US medical schools take some form of the Hippocratic Oath, one of the oldest covenants in history and an expression of ideal conduct for the physician. The ancients could not have imagined the complex moral landscape of medical practice today, from protecting patient privacy to responding to a global pandemic to addressing inequities based on race, class, and location.

In this Fellowship program, you are invited to imagine the ways that doctors and other healthcare professionals can use their specialized knowledge and skills with humility to care for individuals, cure and prevent disease and suffering, flourish in their chosen profession, and work toward the greater good.

This Fellowship is a program of The Purpose Project at Duke. The Purpose Project, sponsored by The Duke Endowment, makes matters of character, questions of purpose, and explorations of one’s life’s work signature features of the Duke experience.

The Program

ReMed will begin in mid-May with a virtual welcome event for introductions and orientation. In June-July, we will meet in the evening once a week for discussions and problem-solving activities focused on questions such as:

  • How do we move from what we can do to what we should do?
  • What does it mean in practice to “do no harm”? And how do we affirmatively “do good”?
  • What historical and sociological understandings must inform our work to ensure that healthcare is just, fair humane and equitable?
  • How can we prepare to practice medicine with character, to develop a sense of meaning and purpose, and to contribute to society?
  • What skills are needed to be a “good” doctor, and where can we learn, develop and see them in practice?

As we consider these questions in the context of professional life and current events, we will focus on the broader implications of the work of healthcare professionals for society as a whole and how they contribute to a just and equitable society and human flourishing more generally. We will work to cultivate student creativity, compassion and humility. We will practice ethical reasoning in context. We will also explore civic virtues—justice, inclusion and service—and the moral and intellectual virtues that promote contributions to the public good: autonomy, judgment, honesty and empathy.

The Fellowship will also connect students with mentors in the health professions. When we return to campus in the fall, ReMed will conclude with a Summer in Review conversation and a final (hopefully in-person) event to celebrate completion of the program. Enthusiastic participation in all aspects of the program, May-October, is required.

Apply Now

To apply, please complete and submit the application, including your résumé and contact information for a faculty member who will serve as a reference, by April 9, 2021. Fellows will be selected and all applicants notified no later than April 21. The program will begin in mid-May with Orientation and end in October with a closing event. Participants do not need to reside in Durham during the summer.

Kenan Institute for Ethics Offers Undergraduate Fellowships for Summer 2021

Kenan Summer Fellows.

Deadline: February 17, 2021

What does it mean to live an ethical life?

Kenan Summer Fellows spend a summer exploring—in a variety of ways—the answers to that question. Between five and six fellows receive up to $5,000 and their faculty mentors will receive $500 to support their project and spend eight consecutive weeks between mid-May and mid-August, 2021 exclusively on the project.


  • 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 list the name of a faculty member that will serve as their mentor for the project. This should be agreed upon before the application is submitted, as well as a plan for interaction throughout the course of the summer (e.g. weekly phone calls or Zoom check-ins).
  • Applications are due February 17, 2021 at 5pm. Applications must emailed to No late applications accepted.
  • A final decision will be made by February 19, 2021.
  • 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.

Check out some past Kenan Summer Fellows blogs and more information about the program here.

Kenan Institute for Ethics Seeks Faculty Research Projects with Community Partners

Call for faculty proposals.

Deadline: January 15, 2021

The Kenan Institute for Ethics strives to engage Durham with a reciprocity that respects the knowledge of both the university and the local community and aims to mobilize these ways of knowing to address real world problems. This kind of community-based research brings together diverse perspectives from residents, local leaders and the university and allows us to develop, share and apply knowledge to find innovative ways to tackle historically intractable problems. To further this work, the Kenan Institute for Ethics is seeking community-based research projects from Duke faculty.

Community-Based Research Program Guidelines

  • Available to faculty in partnership with a local community or neighborhood organizations in Durham. The representative from the community organization must be identified as a co-PI with a substantive role clearly described in the proposal.
  • Awards up to $20,000 for a one-year period with an option for renewal for a second year. Projects must begin before June 15, 2020. We expect to make 2 awards.
  • KIE is particularly interested in the projects that might address issues in education, policing, healthcare, or housing.

Proposal Instructions

  1. No more than 2-page proposals.
  2. Proposals should include:
    1. Project Description – A brief description of the area of research, rationale for approach and expected outcomes – Who will benefit from the research? How will they benefit?
    2. Collaboration – Provide a description of the project leadership and partnership (list of partners and roles, infrastructure for participation, history of the partnership), an outline of how partners will work together to complete the project, and potential plans for future collaboration.
    3. Budget
    4. Timeline
  3. Submit to by 5pm, January 15, 2021.


Please contact Ada Gregory with questions or to discuss further.

New Graduate Fellowship Program Focuses on Race and the Professions

Race and the Professions Fellowship.

Deadline: August 12, 2020

A Fellowship Made Possible by The Duke Endowment in Collaboration with the Kenan Center for Ethics

What Is the Race and the Professions Fellowship?

The Race and the Professions Fellowship is a year-long program made possible by The Duke Endowment inviting Duke graduate and professional students to explore challenges of racial inequities and the work of anti-racism in the professions.

In the last few months, everyday life in America has been both undone and unveiled. Basic rhythms have been upended even as centuries-old injustices have come center stage in a new way. In particular, COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd have laid bare longstanding racial disparities. While what comes next is hard to discern, we know that it is unacceptable to go back to the way things were.

What does this mean for the professions? More specifically, what does this mean for the profession you, as a Duke graduate or professional student, are pursuing in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Nicholas School of the Environment, the School of Medicine, the Duke-NUS Medical School, the School of Nursing, the Fuqua School of Business, the School of Law, the Divinity School, Pratt School of Engineering, or the Sanford School of Public Policy?

How have the events of the last six months exposed long-standing racial injustices in your profession of choice, and what does that mean for the future of the profession and for your aims of working within it? These questions sit at the heart of the Race and the Professions Fellows Program.

Who Should Apply?

What Race and the Professions Fellowswill have in common is a desire to explore the purpose of their profession and how to be a good person within it, in light of anti-racism and racial justice work. All graduate and professional school students at Duke may apply, and we anticipate a diverse cohort of Fellows.

Fellows will each receive a stipend of $3,000 for the 2020-2021 academic year. Fellows will also be invited to apply for additional funding to support summer projects that give students a sense of the possibilities for purpose in their profession through ‘‘on-the-ground’ experience of antiracism and racial justice work.

How Often Will Race and the Professions Fellows Meet, and What Will It Entail?

Race and the Professions Fellows will meet about a dozen times across the Fall and Spring semesters. Sessions will feature visiting speakers and will not typically require preparation, although at times brief readings may be distributed in advance.

Conversations will move between analyzing the structures of racial injustice in a field and reflecting on how one might purposefully work within it. Particular attention will be paid to the relationship between racial justice and the professions in Durham.

Fellows who pursue a summer project will be asked to showcase their work in Fall 2021. Sessions will occur online, with the possibility for in-person gatherings if a safe pathway becomes clear in the course of the year.

How Do I Apply?

To apply: e-mail the application to A.J. Walton at with the subject line “Race and the Professions Fellowship.” Deadline: 12 PM, Wednesday, August 12, 2020