A Letter from the Director

May 30, 2017

Dear Parr Center supporters,

Please find our Annual Report here, describing the activities we’ve undertaken over the past academic year. I’m extremely proud of the work that our staff has accomplished in facilitating so many interesting and important events on ethics-related topics, and I invite you to be on the lookout, come fall, for other exciting programs that the Parr Center will be hosting. 

In addition to adding to your summer reading list with our annual report, I’m also writing to bid the Carolina community adieu. I will soon be returning to the University of Wisconsin, which I had left in order to take up my post here at UNC. I am returning for family reasons only, having found the work, my colleagues and the UNC community a true delight. It has been an honor serving as the Center’s Director, and I am confident that the interim Director, my colleague Dr. Geoff Sayre-McCord, will help to sustain the Parr Center’s upward trajectory.

All my best,



Russ Shafer-Landau 

North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics wins National High School Ethics Bowl!

April 12, 2017

Visit Storify for a collection of photos and media for and by the participants of NHSEB 2017! Check out the weekend through the eyes and words of the participants!

Congratulations to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics from Durham, NC for winning the 2017 National High School Ethics Bowl! Oregon Episcopal School from Portland, OR placed second, followed by Kent Place School from Summit, N.J. in third place, and Herron High School from Indianapolis, IN in fourth place. Wayne Memorial High School from Wayne, MI was voted by their peers the winner of the Spirit of the Ethics Bowl.


Students spent the weekend exercising their philosophical and ethical muscles as they analyzed timely and complex ethical dilemmas. Cases and questions are developed under the guidance of the Parr Center and cover a broad range of topics including drone warfare, overpopulation, standing up against hateful speech, and social media use. Read More →

Undergraduates: enter Kenan Moral Purpose Award essay contest

March 23, 2017

Students can now apply for the Kenan Moral Purpose Award, an annual contest to highlight the role a liberal arts education plays in students’ exploration of their personal and social purposes.

The contest, held in partnership between the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Parr Center for Ethics at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is open to all currently enrolled undergraduate students at Duke and UNC. One winner is selected from each school to receive $1,000 based on entries that consider the intellectual, emotional, and moral commitments that make for a full life.

To enter, students should write an essay between 500 and 800 words to address either or both of these 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?

Students must submit their essay by April 15 by emailing a Word or PDF document to kskaiser@unc.edu.

For additional information and past winners, visit the award website.

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Missed the Ethics of Boycotts debate? Watch it now on Youtube!

February 20, 2017

On February 16th, the Parr Center for Ethics hosted it’s first debate titled “The Ethics of Boycotts” between Shelly Kagan (Philosophy, Yale) and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Philosophy, Duke). The debate centered on the question: do you make a difference when you boycott a harmful practice?

You can watch the live, recorded version here.

The Parr Center for Ethics will continue to livestream other events and programs, with technology permitting. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to receive updates when events will be streamed.



North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Wins North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl!

January 23, 2017

On Saturday, January 21st, the Parr Center for Ethics hosted the 5th annual North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The all-day event centered on developing analytical and respectful discussions on topics such as virtual reality, grumpy cat, armed policed, and religious garb. 14 high schools located across the Triangle Area, Winston-Salem, Wake Forest, Fayetteville as well as Augusta, Georgia created a field of 22 teams–the largest North Carolina competition to date! 

We are excited to announce the winner of the North Carolina High School Ethics Bowl: North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics won the competition in 2015 as well.

nchseb2017The top four teams:

  1. North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Team 1
  2. Durham School of the Arts
  3. Carolina Friends School Team 1
  4. Eastern Alamance High School Green Team

The Spirit of the Ethics Bowl as voted by their competitors: Chapel Hill High School

Read More →

UNC intercollegiate ethics bowl team discusses ethics of political correctness

September 28, 2016

On Tuesday, September 27th the UNC intercollegiate ethics bowl (IEB) team participated in the 2016 First Amendment Day organized by UNC Media Law and Policy. The team presented a case titled “Is Political Correctness a Joke?” and discussed the ethics of political correctness in relation to potentially offensive comedy.

This year’s IEB team is composed of undergraduate students majoring in philosophy, economics, history religious studies, political science, and biology. Philosophy graduate student and Parr Center research assistant, Keshav Singh, coaches the team. On November 19th, the IEB team will travel to Clemson University to compete in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ethics Bowl in hopes to advance to the Nationals on February 27th. 

The members of the IEB team are:

  • Ariella Buckley
  • Sarah Green
  • Brandon Herndon
  • Grayson Holmes
  • Sally Moore
  • Tate Overbey
  • Faisal Sulman
  • Brian Wong

Kwame Anthony Appiah delivers the the inaugural Chancellor’s Lecture in Ethics

September 16, 2016

New York Times “The Ethicist“ columnist Kwame Anthony Appiah delivered the the inaugural Chancellor’s Lecture in Ethics on September 15th in the Kenan Theater at the Center for Dramatic Art. Appiah, a professor of law and philosophy at New York University, spoke about the importance of humanities as providing materials for moral reflection as well as sources of moral understanding and inspirations for moral action. This lecture corresponded with a new initiative to engage students in the humanities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel called Carolina’s Human Heart: Living the Arts and Humanities.

Philosophy Outreach with our friends from Durham Academy

June 6, 2016

On Friday, June 3, the Philosophy Outreach program concluded its Spring partnership with Safari Scout’s first grade class at Durham Academy. We say goodbye to our young philosophers until next school year! Graduate students, Joshua Blanchard, Lindsay Brainard, Caleb Harrison, Macy Salzberger, and Lauren Townsend, as well as Steve Swartzer, Philosophy Outreach Coordinator, visited first graders once per week to explore philosophy concepts and questions through the medium of children’s literature. Conversations centered around topics such as “what is work”, “what it means to be brave”, and “what is an idea”.

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If you are a teacher or parent interested in starting an initiative with our award-winning Philosophy Outreach program, please contact Steve Swartzer.


Associate Director talks with UNC Research about food ethics

May 10, 2016

Jeff Sebo, Associate Director of the Parr Center, sat down for an interview with UNC Research about food ethics. This Fall, Jeff will will help teach an interdisciplinary class on food studies. To read the full interview titled “Platter Chatter: One UNC philosophy professor invites us to question what we put on our plates” click here.