Ethics, Leadership & Global Citizenship


Does one government have the right to insist on another government’s adherence to human rights standards? Do corporations have an obligation to invest in the communities where they do business? How do we reconcile the need for development and need for conservation? Who gets to decide how natural resources are used? What does an ethical immigration policy look like? Who is responsible for the growing world refugee population? Is humanitarian intervention always a good thing? Is our obligation to local poverty different than it is global poverty? Can radical inequality ever be just?

The Ethics, Leadership and Global Citizenship Focus Program cluster grapples with the questions countries, companies, and individuals increasingly confront in a global world. It is about how to create and evaluate solutions to these ethical challenges. Drawing upon insights from anthropology, philosophy, sociology and public policy, we explore together what it means to be a global citizen and ethical leader in the twenty-first century, and what rights and obligations come with global citizenship. Bringing together theory, contemporary case studies from around the world, and local service learning opportunities, this cluster cultivates the crucial tools of moral dialogue necessary for lifelong engagement—locally, nationally, globally—as ethical leaders.

We seek to build a sustainable community of students engaged in ethical inquiry, and you would have access to additional civic engagement and research opportunities offered through the Kenan Institute for Ethics. During the fall semester, there will be a Focus field trip to Washington D.C. to explore questions of national and global citizenship with a variety of policy makers and practitioners in government, non governmental and international organizations and think tanks.. In addition, Focus students are welcomed into the Institute’s community of engaged student leaders, with additional academic and experiential opportunities, including DukeEngage Dublin, the Kenan Summer Fellows Program, the Refugee Resettlement Project in Durham, Egypt, Jordan and Nepal, and Team Kenan.


Seminar: Sociology 178FS/Ethics 199FS — Refugees, Rights and Resettlement (CCI, EI, SS)

Suzanne Shanahan, Co-Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and Associate Research Professor of Sociology

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees there are approximately 35 million refugees and internally displaced persons in the world today. This course provides a comparative historical overview of international refugee policy and law dealing with this ever growing population. Through a series of case studies students will grapple with the ethical challenges posed by humanitarian intervention on behalf of refugees and the often unintended consequences of such policies. How do the different models for dealing with refugee resettlement affect the life chances of refugees? This is a service learning course where students will work with refugees from Bhutan, Burma and Iraq recently resettled in Durham.

Seminar: Public Policy 150FS — Citizens, Patriotism, and Identity (CZ, SS, EI)

Ian MacMullin, Visiting Associate Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy

This course introduces students to fundamental moral questions about nation states and individuals’ membership in them. Do people owe more to their compatriots than to foreigners? Is it desirable – or at least permissible – for countries to have and promote a national identity? What different forms can patriotism take, and in which (if any) of these forms is it a virtue? Should we all be “citizens of the world”? These questions will be explored primarily through readings in contemporary moral and political philosophy.

Seminar: Ethics 129FS.01/Political Science 176FS.01/International Comparative Studies 128FS.01 — Just Thinking (EI, SS)

Suzanne Katzenstein, Research Scholar and the Project Director at the Duke Human Rights Center

This course examines how normative ethical and political theories might help us to think more clearly about rights, obligations, and justice in a global context. It is also enquires into the limitations of some of these theories, which were originally developed for more local contexts. We will focus, in particular, on ethical challenges raised by international commerce. Do multinational corporations have obligations to maintain standards over and above those required by local regulations? How do we determine what these obligations and standards are? What duties do citizens and consumers in a corporation's home country have to compel more responsible corporate behavior abroad?

Seminar: Ethics 160FS/History 127FS/ PubPol 187FS/ Econ 112FS — Globalization and Corporate Citizenship (EI, SS)

Dirk Philipsen, Associate Research Professor at Sanford School of Public Policy and Senor Fellow at the Kenan Institute of Ethics

Are corporations citizens? And if so who defines their rights and responsibilities? To whom are they obligated? This course will critically examine the origins and diffusion of increasingly prevalent notions of corporate citizenship and corporate social responsibility from an anthropological perspective. Particular emphasis will be upon corporate environmental and conservation policies in East Africa and the United States.

Faculty Director

Suzanne Shanahan
Suzanne E Shanahan
  • Associate Research Professor in the Department of Sociology
  • Affiliate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society
  • Co-Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics
277A Soc-Psych
Campus Box: 
(919) 660-5780