Kenan Moral Purpose Award Essay Contest Winners!


What role does a liberal arts education play in creating a full life? Duke senior Kimberly Perez and UNC-Chapel Hill senior Adesh Ranganna provide answers in their Kenan Moral Purpose Award-winning essays, given to the best student papers on the topic from the two schools. In her essay, “Knowledge is Power,” Perez reflected on how her coursework at Duke led her to both dig deeper into and reconsider questions of faith and religious belonging. Ranganna used his essay, “What Ignorance Reveals,” to explore how studying Rawls’ philosophy of justice changed his perspective on what makes public health interventions just and fair.

Kimberly Perez, T’19 (Major in International Comparative Studies with Minors in Chemistry and Global Health), “Knowledge is Power

Adesh Ranganna, UNC ’19 (Majors in Nutrition and Public Policy with a Minor in Chemistry), “What Ignorance Reveals

The annual Kenan Moral Purpose Award is given for the best undergraduate student essay 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. Established in honor of the Institute’s 15th anniversary at Duke and subsequently expanded, the award represents a partnership with the Parr Center for Ethics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with one winner selected from each school.

2018 AWARD WINNERS

The winners of the 2018 Kenan Moral Purpose Award essay competition are Catherine Ward (Duke) and Keegan Barnes (UNC).

Catherine (T’18) is a resident of New Bern and will graduate with an English major, an Education minor, and a certificate in Ethics & Society.

Keegan (’19) is a Durham native double-majoring in Physics and Philosophy.

“Duke has given me opportunities to see the world and study oppression occurring at home and abroad…We need to take the time, after problematizing everything, to build things back up.” — Catherine Ward, Duke ’18

“If we were both settled in our views, why spend the time engaging at all? …I pieced together why I found such meaning in these discussions. Usually, they weren’t centered on what, but how… Morality, which we both took so seriously, was somewhat of a bridge between our two very different world views.” — Keegan Barnes, UNC ’19

Read their 2018 winning essays:
Catherine Ward (Duke ’18): “Building It Back Up” and Keegan Barnes (UNC ’19): “Plastic Pitchfork

Announcement written by Gautam Chebrolu, alum of the Kenan Institute for Ethics.