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

Doctoral Students Can Apply for Kenan Institute for Ethics 2020 Graduate Fellowships

KIE Graduate Fellowships.

Deadline: July 31, 2020

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

Students from any Duke doctoral 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 for a Monday seminar about a dozen times across the Fall and Spring semesters. THIS YEAR, OUR MEETINGS WILL BE HELD SYNCHRONOUSLY ONLINE, and perhaps occasionally in ultra-safe formats outdoors. These seminars usually 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.

Alumni in good standing of the Fellowship program will have access to conference- and research-travel funds during their final years in the Ph.D. program.

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

Deadline: 12 noon, Friday, July 31, 2020.

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

2020 ReMed Fellows Will Address Medical and Ethical Challenges of COVID-19 Pandemic

ReMed logo.

Reimagine Medicine is an innovative summer fellowship for rising juniors and seniors preparing for health professions. The goal of ReMed is to foster the character, imagination, and practices needed to work effectively in contexts of human suffering and healing. The curriculum uses graphic art, music, expressive writing, embodiment and puppetry, improvisation, mindfulness and non-traditional hospital shadowing to explore themes often ignored in traditional medical education.

In the historic summer of 2020, the program will be conducted virtually and will also address COVID-19 and the medical and ethical challenges highlighted by the global pandemic.

ReMed is a collaboration among the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine, Science & Society, Duke Divinity School: Theology, Medicine and Culture, and the FHI Health Humanities Lab.

Congratulations to the 2020 ReMed Fellows! Learn more about each student on the Kenan Institute for Ethics website.

ReMed Fellows 2020.

Four Students Receive 2020 Pathways of Change Fellowships

Pathways of Change.

The Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics offers summer internships with organizations looking to make business work for communities, not just bottom lines. As these organizations must be adaptive and responsive in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, so must these students. They will work remotely this summer, exploring the compromises, contradictions, and trade-offs between business needs and human rights within and outside of the corporate world. In addition to working with the partner organizations, students will profile a leader in their organization via a “virtual coffee” and write “letters from home” contemplating the best ways to affect change in corporate human rights practices from their remote vantage points. Visit the Pathways of Change Blog.

Ryan.Ryan Geitner

Ryan Geitner, placed with Business for Social Responsibility, is a rising Senior from Hickory, NC. She is majoring in Political Science and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, while also pursuing a Certificate in Human Rights. She is spending her junior year  in Amman, Jordan studying Arabic and the interplay between the nation-state model and international human rights regime. At Duke, Ryan is involved in Bass Connections research, the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy, the Duke Political Review, and works as a literacy tutor through the America Reads/America Counts program.

Bhamini.Bhamini Vellanki

Bhamini Vellanki, placed with SAS, is a sophomore from Cary, NC pursuing an Interdepartmental Major in Neuroscience and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, a Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Minor, and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate. She is passionate about the applications of intersectionality in human rights and the way in which corporate social responsibility can further women’s rights and women’s health advocacy. On campus, she is a Research Assistant at the Center for Research to Advance Health Equity, a part of the Penny Pilgrim George Women’s Leadership Initiative, a mentor in the Kenan Institute of Ethics Global Migration Program, and a member of the Student Founders Program.

Alice WuAlice.

Alice Wu, placed with Business for Social Responsibility, is a rising junior from Cleveland, Ohio. She is studying Public Policy and pursuing a certificate in Markets and Management. Alice is passionate about advancing social good by promoting collaboration between businesses, NGOs, governments, and other organizations. She is a freshman small group leader for Asian InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a council member for American Grand Strategy, and works remotely for a NYC-based startup.

Zac JohnsonZac.

Zac Johnson, placed with Accountability Counsel, is majoring in Public Policy and History and planning to earn the Human Rights Certificate. From Hillsborough, North Carolina, he attended school in Chapel Hill until coming to Duke. On campus, he sit on the Services and Sustainability Committee in Student Government and works at the FHI Human Rights Center. He is primarily interested in studying systems of power and their propagation through legal frameworks.

Originally posted on the Kenan Institute for Ethics website

Enter the 2020 Kenan Institute for Ethics Essay Competition for the Moral Purpose Award

Kenan Moral Purpose Award.

Deadline: April 26, 2020

The Kenan Moral Purpose Award is given annually for the best student essays on the role a liberal arts education plays in students’ exploration of the personal and social purposes by which to orient their future and the intellectual, emotional, and moral commitments that make for a full life.

New for 2020: There will be a separate prize awarded for the best graduate student essay.

2020 Entry Guidelines

This contest is open to currently enrolled full-time undergraduate and graduate students at Duke University (short-term or exchange students are not eligible).

For Undergraduate Students

Essays of between 500-800 words should address either or both of the following questions:

  • In what ways have your core beliefs and larger aims been tested, transformed, or confirmed during your time in college?
  • How have you had to defend or challenge prevailing ideas, social norms, or institutions, and what lessons have you learned from doing so?
For Graduate Students

Essays of between 500-800 words should address either or both of the following questions:

  • How has your research informed, tested, transformed, or confirmed your moral commitments?
  • How does your research defend or challenge prevailing ideas, social norms, or institutions, and what lessons have you learned in the process?

Essays should be submitted by email as a Word or PDF attachment to Amber Díaz Pearson ( by 11:59 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, April 26.

Learn more and read about the 2019 winners.

Pathways of Change: Help Make Business Work for Communities, Not Just Bottom Lines

Pathways of Change logo.

Deadline: January 17, 2020

Interested in business and human rights?

The Duke Human Rights Center at the Kenan Institute for Ethics is soliciting applications for Pathways of Change, which offers summer internships with organizations looking to make business work for communities, not just bottom lines. Students will explore the compromises, contradictions and tradeoffs between business needs and human rights within and outside of the corporate world by working with organizations determined to create accountability, ensure sustainability and align the needs of communities with the aims of business development.

In addition to working with the partner organizations, students conduct “profiles” of the people in their organizations and write “letters home” about the best ways to affect change in corporate human rights practices.

The Fine Print

  • Each internship comes with a $5,000 stipend. Students are responsible for arranging their own travel and accommodation on-site.
  • Pre-selected partner organizations host a summer intern for 8-10 weeks typically in Boston, New York, San Francisco, or Cary, NC.
  • Students are required to write blogs and profiles throughout the summer for the KIE website as well as completing interviews with site supervisors or other organizational leaders

Application and Selection Process

To apply to the Pathways of Change program, please include the documents noted below in a single PDF titled with your last name and Pathways (lastname_Pathways), in the order listed. Please email application to

  • Cover Letter expressing why you are interested in an internship in business and human rights and indicating your preference in potential placements. Please list only partners you would be willing to intern with. If you are flexible on placements, please note that.
  • CV including major, related coursework, expected graduation, and languages other than English
  • Writing Sample: 5-10 pages, please note at top which class it was for. This writing sample can be about any topic — something that showcases your best academic writing.

The deadline for applications is Friday, January 17, 2020, with the first round of interviews (with Kenan) likely taking place the following week with successful candidates referred to partners for review and interviews by early February. Selected finalists will be offered placements no later than end of February.

Business and Human Rights/Corporate Social Responsibility Possible Placements

Read student reflections and learn more about these organizations and their leaders on the Pathways of Change Blog or from the selections below:

  • Accountability Counsel, an NGO in San Francisco. Flexible with start/end date. Requires a 10-week commitment.

Letters home:Working from the Bottom and the Top to Amplify Community Voices
Profile: Natalie Bridgeman Fields, Founder and Executive Director

  • Business for Social Responsibility, a non-profit consulting organization based in San Francisco and New York. Start date no later than 1st week of June and requires an 10-week, 40-hour commitment.

Letters home: Corporate Pride in a Fractured World, by Noah McThenia
Profile: Aron Cramer, President and CEO of BSR

Letters home: The Power of the People, by Carter Teng
Profile: Heshan Berents-Weeramuni, Communications Director

  • SAS, a multinational software company based in Cary, North Carolina. Flexible start date and 8-10-week commitment.

Letters home: Wayfair Walkout: Era of Employee Activism, by Amanda Kang
Profile: Cassy Creekman, In-house Attorney

Check back regularly for updated information about partners and important dates. Questions? Contact

Interested in Pathways in Women’s Rights or Environmental Justice, check out the DukeEngage Pathways Projects.

Integrating Purpose, Character, and Ethics into Undergraduate Engineering Education

Pratt School of Engineering.

As the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University continues to evolve its undergraduate curriculum, the school is working to integrate crucial but often overlooked pieces of a holistic engineering education. With a new grant from The Kern Family Foundation’s Entrepreneurial Engineering Program, Duke Engineering will work with Duke colleagues and external professionals to create a framework for focusing on character values throughout the undergraduate experience.

“Today’s engineering students want to see how engineering impacts people’s lives and makes the world a better place,” said George Truskey, senior associate dean of the Pratt School of Engineering and the R. Eugene and Susie E. Goodson Professor of Biomedical Engineering. “At the same time, we’ve witnessed serious ethical lapses by major corporations in recent years. We feel that it is very important to infuse character values throughout our programs and to encourage students to think about what ethical issues new technologies may pose before they even come out.”

The grant, titled “Purposefully Duke: Reimagining Engineering Education for Purpose, Character and Ethics,” draws Duke Engineering together with the Duke Divinity School and Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics. The grant will also bring in experts from outside the university to create a working group of faculty and staff to develop an approach for discussing character-based ethics in a manner that is easily integrated into the current student experience.

“The Purposefully Duke initiative is designed to build a ‘muscle for reflection’ amongst our students and help them frame success in a way that leads to a life of purpose, meaning and ethics⁠—a fulfilling life where professional success is not the end goal of college, but one ingredient in a larger journey of personal growth.  We are grateful to the Kern Foundation, and to our Duke colleagues in the Divinity School, the Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Provost’s office, for their support in this important embrace of a higher responsibility that all of us share in higher education.”

Ravi Bellamkonda
Vinik Dean of Engineering

The end goal is to create a proposal that develops and implements curricular, co-curricular and mentoring programs that explore and reinforce issues of character, purpose and ethics in engineering. Once completed, the leaders plan to submit a larger proposal to implement the new findings and ideas by Fall 2020.

The Kern Family Foundation was established in 1998 to empower the rising generation of Americans to build flourishing lives anchored in strong character, inspired by quality education, driven by an entrepreneurial mindset, and guided by the desire to create value for others. Earlier this year, Duke Engineering joined the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), which is a national partnership of engineering faculty focused on developing and promoting innovation in engineering education for the good of society. While the Kern Foundation wants to keep the focus of KEEN on fostering an entrepreneurial mindset in students, the budding program dovetails nicely into their broader goal of adding meaning and purpose to students’ educations and careers.

While planning is still in the early stages, Truskey says he envisions tapping into Duke Engineering’s extensive alumni network and other professionals in the field to recount their experiences and how they dealt with challenging situations. That way students can see that ethical dilemmas are real issues dealt with by real professionals on a regular basis, not just things that come up in the news from time to time.

“We need to find ways to engage students that allow them to see the complexity of the problems that can come up,” said Truskey. “If you give a student a case study of a serious ethical flaw, they’re going to immediately figure out what the right thing to do is. The challenge is to put them into a situation where there are gray areas so that they can see all the pressures and tensions that conflict with each other. Then it becomes more realistic and more challenging for them to think the problem through.”

“This grant addresses issues of central importance to engineering, higher education, and broader issues in people’s lives and the world of reinvigorating our vocations with character, purpose and ethical commitment,” said Gregory Jones, dean of the Duke Divinity School.

“We’re excited to collaborate with Pratt and the Divinity School on this important work of reimagining engineering education to make questions of purpose and meaning core learning outcomes,” added Suzanne Shanahan, director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics.

Originally posted on the Pratt School of Engineering website