Ethics, Leadership & Global Citizenship

  • Ethics Students in NYC
    Ethics Students in NYC
  • Ethics students at Parents Weekend
    Ethics students at Parents Weekend


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.


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

Suzanne Shanahan

Suzanne Shanahan, Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics; Associate Research Professor in Sociology; Director of the Kenan Refugee Project and DukeEngage Dublin

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.

Ethics 190FS/Public Policy 190FS — Environmental Justice, Nationalism, and Culture (SS, EI, CCI)

Kay Jowers

Kay Jowers, Senior policy associate at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

This course examines the environmental justice movement, its countermovements, including nationalist and conservative movements, and how their interplay shapes political opportunities and responses. We will consider the substantive concerns of the environmental justice movement (the needs of humans in the built environment), its methods (community-based political organizing carefully coordinated with allies within legal professions and academia), and the scales at which it operates (local, national, global). Because social movements of political significance will generate opposition, we will also consider the rise of nationalist and conservative movements that interact with and challenge the environmental justice movement. These topics will be explored using a range of materials, including scholarly books, articles, case studies, and documentary films.

Ethics 129FS/Political Science 176FS/International Comparative Studies 128FS/Public Policy 181FS — Human Rights & World Politics (EI, SS)

Juliette Duara

Juliette Duara, Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics

This course examines the role of human rights and global justice in world politics. It seeks to understand how and why the human rights regime was created, how human rights standards and notions of global justice have evolved, and the role of advocacy organizations in promoting human rights at both the domestic and international levels. We will consider questions such as whether human right are universal, what role human rights and global justice should be play in U.S. foreign policy, which strategies are most effective in promoting human rights and global justice, and which risk inciting backlash. The course will cover topics including civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; genocide, torture, business and human rights, conflict diamonds and university investment, humanitarian intervention, and the international criminal court. It will use a range of materials, including scholarly books and articles, case studies, NGO reports and films.  

Ethics 160FS/History 127FS/ Public Policy 187FS/ Economics 112FS — Globalization and Corporate Citizenship (EI, SS)

Dirk Philipsen

Dirk Philipsen, Associate Research Professor in Economic History at Sanford School of Public Policy and Senior 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
  • Nannerl O. Keohane Director of the Kenan Institute for Etthics
  • Associate Research Professor in the Department of Sociology
277A Soc-Psych
Campus Box: 
(919) 660-5780