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

Ten Students Named 2019-2020 Graduate Fellows in Religions and Public Life

Graduate fellows.

This year’s Religions and Public Life Graduate Student Working Group focuses on the theme of “Church and State.” Ten master’s and doctoral students were selected out of a competitive application pool, representing nine different departments and degree programs, three schools, and two universities (Duke and UNC). Graduate Fellows will develop their research interests and discuss recent scholarship during monthly meetings. Throughout the year, they will also practice writing for a public audience and take part in an end-of-year symposium. Several scholars are also supported by generous collaborations with the Center for Jewish Studies, the Duke University Middle East Studies Center, and the Program for American Values and Institutions.

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. A joint endeavor with the Duke Divinity School, it is 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).

2019-2020 Fellows

Matthew Elmore

Matthew is a Doctor of Theology student at Duke Divinity School. His work is focused on consent theory, especially as it pertains to medieval theology, modern political philosophy and medicine.

Isak Tranvik

Isak is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at Duke University specializing in Political Theory with a secondary specialization in Law and Politics. His dissertation, situated at the intersection of political philosophy, religious studies, and comparative political theory, intervenes in ongoing debates about civil disobedience and social and political pluralism. More broadly, his research and teaching interests include modern and contemporary political theory, religion(s) and politics, post-colonial political theory, and civic education. His work has appeared or is forthcoming inPerspectives on Politics and Comparative Political Studies. He also co-authored a chapter in an edited volume on popular education, Awakening Democracy Through Public Work: Pedagogies of Empowerment.

Luke Olsen

Luke Olsen is a masters student at Duke Divinity School. A Theology, Medicine, and Culture Fellow (’17-’18), Luke is interested in theological anthropology, especially as it relates to urgent moral, political, and aesthetic issues at the intersection of technology, medicine, and ecological crises. This Kenan Fellowship supports Luke’s current research on transhumanism as a political and religious movement in the United States.

Devran Koray Ocal

Devran is a political geographer at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His dissertation research engages with identity formation, citizenship and belonging ties of the Turkish-Muslim diaspora in Germany. His area of interest covers migration, geographies of state, feminist geopolitics and diaspora studies.

Hannah Ridge

Hannah is a PhD candidate studying the effect of popular understandings of democracy on support for democratization. Her research focuses on Middle Eastern politics, public opinion on democracy, and religion and secularism politics. She has a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago.

Shreya Parikh

Shreya is a doctoral student in sociology at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. In her dissertation project, she explores the intersections of race and religion in the immigrant-origin communities in France. Her work has appeared in Maydan and ThePrint.

Elsa Costa

Elsa is an intellectual historian concentrating on Spain and its possessions in the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Her dissertation, a study of the Spanish Empire during the Enlightenment, explores how political economy emerged from moral philosophy during the transition from Habsburg to Bourbon rule. Originally from Chicago, Elsa has a BA in Latin American studies from Bennington College and an MA in Ibero-American history from Duke. Her other interests include twentieth-century French, German and Brazilian philosophy, medieval theories of pedagogy, and women’s writing in contemporary Latin America. She has published or presented papers on all these topics. Her dissertation research took her to Madrid and to Mexico City, where she read the political theories of monks, priests, scientists, lawyers, royal advisors, dilettante scholars, aristocratic women, and others on a Fulbright-Hays grant. Far from the medieval notion it is sometimes assumed to be, the divine right of kings belongs to the Renaissance and early Enlightenment. Elsa has watched it emerge chronologically through these texts. Elsa is also a Humane Studies fellow and is at present involved in the founding of a new literary review. In her spare time, she enjoys watching the new TV series she discovered in Spain, like Élite, The Mysteries of Laura, Madrid is Burning and Just Before Christ.

Mao Wei

Mao is an artist currently based in Durham, USA and Shanghai, China. Her artwork creates realms that explore mediation and representation in the real world and critique the functions of various media production approaches through photography, sculpture, installation and mixed media. These artificially include her reflections on the virtual reality, dream and uncertainty. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts at Duke.

Anna Holleman

Anna is a second year graduate student in the sociology PhD program at Duke. She is interested in the sociology of religion, specifically the ways that religious organizations function in relation to the larger culture

Armani Porter

Armani is currently a second year master’s student studying Bioethics and Science Policy (concentration: philosophy) at Duke University. He is also a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where he double majored in theology and neuroscience. Armani is currently involved in a collaborative study between Duke and Northwestern University, which aims to address the legal and ethical implications of the use of DNA in missing migrant identification. He generally interested in issues at the intersection of immigration policy, international relations, and religion and after finishing his master’s degree, Armani will pursue a JD/PhD as he wishes to pursue a career as a legal academic.

By Niall Schroder; originally posted on the Kenan Institute for Ethics website

Want to Do DukeEngage Again? Now You Can


Deadline: October 18, 2019

(Re)Engage Program Overview

We are excited to announce a brand-new opportunity for DukeEngage alumni to participate in a second summer of immersive work. Open to all current undergraduates who successfully completed a DukeEngage project, select students will receive funding to do one of the following:

  • Return to their DukeEngage site to conduct original research, including research for a Graduation with Distinction project
  • Return to the location of their DukeEngage site to work with a different organization in the same sector
  • Pursue a project on the same theme as their DukeEngage work, but in a different location. Students may conduct original research, including research for a Graduation with Distinction project, or they may choose to conceptualize a project in conjunction with a local organization.

Funding is available in the amount of up to $5,000 for a domestic project and up to $6,000 for an international project. Funding cannot be combined with any other Duke award. All projects must be at least eight continuous weeks in length.


To apply, students must submit the following by 5:00 pm on Friday, October 18th to with the subject line (Re)Engage:

  • Three-page proposal, including a one-page literature review that situates the project in a broader context
  • Preliminary work plan with anticipated outcomes
  • Budget outline
  • Names of two faculty references, one of whom will serve as the project supervisor

Preference will be given to solo projects, but teams of two students will also be considered. After an initial review of applications, up to five finalists will be selected. All finalists must be available to pitch their project to the DukeEngage National Advisory Board on the afternoon of Friday, November 8th, 2019.


  • Applicants must have completed a DukeEngage group program or independent project.
  • Students ultimately selected as DukeReEngage recipients will also be expected to return in fall 2020 to present their summer findings to the Board.

Key Dates

  • Application Deadline: 5:00 pm on 10/18/19
  • Pitch Competition: 1:00 pm on 11/8/19
  • Notification: TBD
  • Participation Agreement Deadline: TBD

We hope you will consider applying for this tremendous opportunity! If you have questions or would like more information, please email