Adaptive Regulation and Emerging Technologies Project

Emerging technologies offer extraordinary promise but also introduce new risks. These risks often need to be managed and regulated despite the fact that the benefits and risks may be difficult to discern at early stages of innovation and more thorough understanding of those risks will evolve over time.  As a result, policies in these domains need to be adaptive—evolving over time in response to new information on risks and benefits. This inter-disciplinary project aims to evaluate regulatory approaches for new technologies and make recommendations on how better to structure regulation to be adaptive. The project will look at four areas: 1) 3D printing and manufacturing; 2) Biotechnology, Precision Medicine, and Ecology; 3) Unconventional energy extraction; and 4) Autonomous transportation. These technologies have the potential to transform economic activity, health, energy use, environmental quality, social interactions, and even the way we think about ourselves: this is why policymakers must develop innovative ways to monitor and mitigate their risks, as well as develop new abilities to forecast their evolution, without jeopardizing their development by imposing too rigid regulatory requirements. The project will be led by the Rethinking Regulation Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and Duke’s Science and Society Initiative, with participation of academics from the Pratt School of Engineering.

Bass Connections Research Team

Faculty leaders from the Rethinking Regulation at KIE program are heading up the Bass Connections project “Governance and Adaptive Regulation of Transformational Technologies in Transportation.”

The project’s goal is to develop an approach to regulatory design and institutional updating, including model regulatory language, for both autonomous cars and 3D printing. The approach will be based on expertise on these technologies and analysis of how different regulatory options affect deployment of the technologies and learning about the emerging risks, benefits, costs and distribution of these technologies. The objective of this analysis is to inform decisions about regulating these emerging technologies, and to develop better approaches for adaptive regulation of emerging technologies in general.

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George C. Lamb Regulatory Fellows

Fall 2017 marks the fourth year of George C. Lamb, Jr. Regulatory Fellows program. Fellows are hosted by Rethinking Regulation as part of a collaboration across the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke’s Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and the Fuqua School of Business. Kenan will host a Postdoctoral Fellow for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Monthly Seminar. Rethinking Regulation at KIE hosts monthly seminar events for faculty and students affiliated with the group.  If you are interested in joining the group and attending our events, contact Hayden Hashimoto at

Keep up with Rethinking Regulation’s events, projects, and opportunities through the email newsletter: signup using our online form.

2015-2016 Events and Activities

  • IRGC conference on Planning Adaptive Regulation, London, January 2016, see . We helped organize and speak at this conference of the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC), held at University College London. We also helped write the Conference Report, available at the conference website. The theme relates directly to our current RR research project on Adaptive Regulation: how regulatory systems can be designed to learn over time. Our team attending this conference included Lori Bennear, Jonathan Wiener, Jonas Monast and SJD student Daniel Ribeiro.
  • Symposium on US-EU Regulatory Cooperation, April 2016, see . This meeting featured keynote remarks by Howard Shelanski, administrator of US OIRA (the White House regulatory oversight body), as well as multiple speakers from the US Government, the European Commission, the OECD, academia and practice.   We discussed the challenges and opportunities for transatlantic cooperation to address regulatory differences that may pose barriers to trade. We examined options for pursuing such regulatory cooperation through the ongoing negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), or through other avenues outside of or after TTIP, such as bilateral efforts by counterpart regulatory institutions.
  • Wayne Norman & Aaron Ancell on Regulation and Democratic TheorySeptember 15.

  • Andrea Renda: Google and the EU Antitrust Investigation, October 6.

  • Rethinking Regulation Round Robin SeminarNovember 10.

  • Our seminar series continued to engage diverse speakers in cross-cutting, multidisciplinary inquiry. Most of these RR seminars are held in KIE West Duke 101. Among the speakers we hosted in 2016 were: John Graham, former administrator of OIRA and now Dean at Indiana University’s public policy school, on regulation of fracking, and a second talk on presidential effectiveness in domestic policy; Mark McClellan, former commissioner of FDA and now head of Duke’s Margolis Center, on incentives for improving health care quality; Vishy Pingali, Indian Institute of Management and Lamb Fellow at RR, on potential unintended consequences of mandating a minimum level of corporate social responsibility by firms in in India; Matthew Johnson, Sanford School, on practical and ethical ramifications of shaming firms for violating health and safety regulations; Lee Reiners, formerly at the NY Fed and now at Duke’s Global Financial Markets Center, on public and regulators’ perspectives; Sim Sitkin, Fuqua School, and John De Figueiredo, Law School, on the organizational culture of federal agencies and senior staff; and Missy Cummings, Pratt School, on the ethical and social implications of automating vehicles such as cars, trucks, trains and airplanes.

Fall 2016 Graduate Student Activities 

  • In 2016, Mercy DeMenno (Ph.D. student, Sanford) won a Duke Support for Interdisciplinary Graduate Networks (D-SIGN) grant for the RR-GSWG from the Office of the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. This grant will support RR-GSWG programming in AY 2016-17 as well as individual and collaborative graduate research awards in the spring of 2017, with awardees reporting on their work in progress to the RR community and giving final presentations in fall 2017.

2015-2016 Graduate Student Events

  • The Rethinking Regulation Graduate Student Working Group holds regular meetings throughout the year. For more information, contact  Mercy DeMenno.
  • The RR Graduate Student Working Group (RR-GSWG), led by Mercy DeMenno, Ph.D. student in Public Policy, grew in 2016 to include twenty Duke doctoral and professional students from nine disciplines and eight schools/departments. The RR-GSWG held monthly meetings throughout 2016, in which graduate and professional students provided feedback on members’ works in progress, ranging from dissertation proposals to job talks. Presenters this fall represented the disciplines of Law, Environmental Policy, Sociology, and History. Students also met in smaller groups to provide in-depth feedback on writing and research designs.
  • During the 2015-16 funding cycle, through a competitive evaluation process, Rethinking Regulation selected and funded research projects by five Ph.D. students, four of whom subsequently presented papers based on their research in an intensive workshop with the RR community in December 2016. (The fifth student will present her research in 2017.) These students are enrolled in programs in Public Policy, History, Sociology, Political Science, and Environmental Policy, and were matched with faculty discussants from KIE, the Nicholas School, and Sanford.

2014-2015 Events and Activities

Spring 2015 Events

  • KIE Monday Seminar: Umut Aydin. On February 16, Lamb Fellow Umut Aydin shared her recent research on competition law and policy in developing countries with both the Rethinking Regulation and KIE Monday Seminar participants.
  • KIE Monday Seminar: Ed Balleisen. On March 2, Ed Balleisen, KIE Senior Fellow (History) and program director of Rethinking Regulation at KIE together with collaborators from the Bass Connections Team “Regulatory Disaster Scene Investigation” presented on a forthcoming book chapter, “Institutional Mechanisms for Investigating the Regulatory Implications of a Major Crisis: The Commission of Inquiry and the Safety Board.”
  • Laws that Learn: Adaptive Regulation of Pharmaceuticals. On March 6, Professor Kenneth Oye (MIT) and Professor Arti Rai (Duke) discussed the challenges and opportunities in shifting the way the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and its counterparts around the world, regulate pharmaceutical products. Can and should we move from a one-time decision to approve a drug in general, to a sequential process of partial approvals with continued monitoring and learning over time? How can our regulatory systems incorporate continued learning, as new technologies and their impacts emerge?
  • Global Regulatory Governance and Human Rights Workshop. On March 20, papers were presented by Lamb Fellow in Regulatory Governance Jennifer Miller, KIE Graduate Fellow Shana Starobin, Professor Tim Bartley (OSU, Sociology), Professor Fritz Mayer (Duke, Public Policy) and Professor Gary Gereffi (Duke, Sociology), along with discussants.
  • Laws that Learn: J.B. Ruhl on Conservation. On March 24, The Laws that Learn seminar series had Professor J.B. Ruhl (David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law at Vanderbilt Law School) to discuss the evolving goals of conservation and the implications for law and policy in his talk, “Buzzwords or Breakthroughs? — Assessing the New Framing of Conservation.”
  • Rethinking Regulation Seminar: Eleanor Fox on Competition Law in Africa. On April 10, Professor Eleanor Fox (Walter J. Derenberg Professor of Trade Regulation at New York University School of Law) discussed the quality of competition regimes across developing countries in her talk, “Competition Law and Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa – Does it Promote Efficiency and Development? Efficient Development? Efficient Inclusive Development?”
  • Essay Presentations in Regulatory Ethics and Human Rights. On April 13, undergraduate essay competition finalists presented their work on regulatory and human rights responses to the collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24, 2013.
  • Health Policy Lecture Series. On April 24, the Health Policy Lecture Series concluded with a session on Healthcare Informatics. The 2014-15 series was sponsored by the Duke Clinical Research Institute, the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University School of Medicine and Duke University School of Law. Each lecture session featured a moderated panel comprised of distinguished physicians, medical researchers, and law and policy experts from Duke and beyond. Previous lecture topics included Elections & Healthcare and Healthcare Reform: Initial Assessments.
  • Workshop on Competition Law and Policy in Developing CountriesOn May 4, Lamb Fellow Umut Aydin and Duke Political Science Professor Tim Büthe held an interdisciplinary workshop on Competition Law and Policy in Developing Countries.

Fall 2014 Events

  • Conference on “Improving Risk Regulation: From Crisis Response to Learning and Innovation.” Along with the International Risk Governance Council and the OECD Regulatory Policy Division, the Rethinking Regulation Program at the Kenan Institute for Ethics is co-hosting the conference “Improving Risk Regulation: From Crisis Response to Learning and Innovation,” to be held in Paris on 13-14 October 2014.
    The latest conference agenda summary is available online (PDF). The first day addressed how crisis events shape regulatory change and how regulatory institutions can learn from crises. This is the theme of a research project we are leading at Duke University on “Recalibrating Risk: Crises, Perceptions and Regulatory Change” (book forthcoming in 2015). The second day addressed how regulatory systems can be designed to learn and improve over time, both exhibiting adaptive policy innovation and stimulating technological innovation. Case studies highlighted during the conference included the regulation of oil spills, nuclear accidents, financial crashes, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals; the use of behavioral insights and non-government networks in regulation; and more. Speakers came from numerous countries, disciplines, and organizations.
  • Bass Connections Research Team. Faculty leaders from the Rethinking Regulation at KIE program headed up a new Bass Connections project, “Regulatory Disaster Scene Investigation.” Over the course of a year, a project team of faculty, undergraduate and graduate students explored the possibility of an independent institution to study and recommend policies related to crises, disasters, and near misses. Research activities included a team of students who traveled to Washington, D.C. this summer to interview safety regulators. Bass Connection Research Team Presentations. On September 10, the students involved in the project presented their research findings.
  • KIE Monday Seminar with George C. Lamb, Jr. Regulatory Fellow Jennifer Miller. On October 6, bioethicist Jennifer Miller presented a paper entitled “Ethics and Trustworthiness in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Could Rating Help?”
  • Graduate Student Presentations. On November 17, the awardees of last year’s Rethinking Regulation Graduate Research Awards presented their research with Rethinking Regulation faculty.
  • Daniel Ribeiro: Taking on Corruption in Brazil Through Regulation. On December 12, Duke Law SJD candidate Daniel Ribeiro discussed his time as a prosecutor in Brazil taking on environmental crimes and corruption.

2013-2014 Events and Activities


  • JANUARY 22, Workshop for Regulatory Oral History Hub: Duke graduate student Will Goldsmith, with help from Fuqua postdoc Elizabeth Brake, created a beta version of “The Regulatory Oral History Hub” — a digital gateway to regulation-related oral history collections.  This discussion looked to improving and building on the existing resource.
  • FEBRUARY 20th: David Moss, MacLean Professor at Harvard Business School, discussed his work on the new Tobin Project volume Preventing Regulatory Capture: Special Interest Influence and How to Limit It. Additional panelists: David Price, Joseph Smith
  • MARCH 6: Eric Gerding, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Law School and author of  Law, Bubbles, and Financial Regulation, met with the the Rethinking Regulation faculty group.


  • SEPTEMBER 10:  Prof. Anne van Aaken from the Univ. of St. Gallen (Switzerland)  discussed transnational high risk areas issues in the EU (Financial Markets and Air Traffic Management).
  • SEPTEMBER 18:  Dr. Atsuo Kishimoto, from the Japanese Research Institute of Science for Safety and Sustainability (RISS) of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) discussed risk analysis & policy in Japan before and after the May 2011 Tsunami and Fukushima nuclear power accident.
  • SEPTEMBER 18, 19:  Recalibrating Risk Author’s Meeting.  Chapter authors from Japan, Norway, England and the U.S. discussed drafts for the Recalibrating Risk volume of essays.
  • OCTOBER 25:  Graduate Student Seminar. Recipients of the 2012-2013 Graduate Student Awards presented papers on their research.
  • NOVEMBER 4:  Arden Rowell, the Richard W. and Marie L. Corman Scholar at the University of Illinois College of Law discussed two of her papers.  Professor Rowell’s research interests revolve around risk, time, and uncertainty, particularly in the fields of environmental law, administrative law, torts, and behavioral law and economics.
  • NOVEMBER 15:  Mary Mitchell, Doctoral Candidate in History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania: “Past Predicates, Tense Futures: Human Geneticists and Screening Policy, 1967-1973.”
  • NOVEMBER 22-23: Well-Being and Public Policy Conference,  How should we evaluate governmental policy in light of individual well-being? The Oxford Handbook of Well-Being and Public Policy provided a comprehensive treatment of this large and important question. The Handbook is authored by an interdisciplinary and international group of economists, philosophers, psychologists and law professors. At this Duke conference, authors in Part I and II of the Handbook presented first drafts of their chapters.
  • DECEMBER 5: Jonas Monast, “Inducing Regulatory Innovation.”

2012-2013 Events and Activities

  • Student Grants:  Rethinking Regulation convened a student grant award seminar in April 2012.  Students presented research on the regulation of a WWII-era health benefits for military wives, the culture of pirating in Somalia, processes for designing regulatory schemes for fisheries, and food certification programs.  In Fall 2012, four more students were awarded grants from $1,000 to $2,000.
  • Recalibrating Risk:  A new book project kicked off in Fall 2012.  Sixteen authors from  6 different countries and 6 different disciplines will explore how crisis events affect overall perceptions of risk and how those perceptions influences regulation.  Authors will explore oil spills in the US and Europe;  nuclear events in Japan, the U.S. and Europe; and economic crises in the U.S and Europe.  The authors will look at overall themes across history, across geography and across type of crises.
  • Kenan Practitioner in residence:  Sally Katzen, former director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) under the Clinton administration consulted with the rethinking regulation group and other seminar members on individual projects and collaborations, and participating in an oral history project with History professor Ed Balleisen.  On Oct 24th, she participated in a panel presentation with John Graham, former OIRA administrator under the George W. Bush administration to provide an insider’s view of how regulation is handled in different presidential administrations.
  • Guest Speakers:  In Fall 2013,  the Rethinking Regulation group co-sponsored with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions a visit with Andreas Kraemer, Director of the Ecologic Institute in Berlin, who gave a public presentation, met with faculty and visited classes.
  • In Spring 2013, we hosted several outside speakers, including:  Nathan Knuffman from the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management; Robin Smith, former Assistant Secretary for the Environment at the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources; Kevin Anderson, Senior Deputy Attorney General at the NC Department of Justice; Steve Usselman, Professor of History at Georgia Tech; and Christopher Hart, Vice Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.
  • February 22nd and 23rd, we held a second “Recalibrating Risk” authors meeting.  During this gathering, an interdisciplinary group of international scholars gathered to discuss draft case studies for the planned volume of essays that examine the impact of crises on regulatory analysis and policy making.  This volume examines regulatory responses to three types of disasters: oil spills, nuclear accidents, and financial crises.
  • A series of preliminary discussions was held on “Adaptive Regulation,” including a Feb. 7 session with Sim Sitkin, of Fuqua, on organizational learning as well as a graduate student panel on regulatory strategies in emerging economies.  Rethinking Regulation also co-sponsoring a conference with Duke Law:  “New Scholarship on Happiness.” This interdisciplinary conference focused on the normative relevance of happiness surveys, and their utility for public policy.

2011-2012 Seminar Events

  • Kim Krawiec, “‘Don’t Screw Joe the Plumber’: The Sausage Making of Financial Reform.” (September Seminar)
  • Head U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Inez Tenenbaum. (September Seminar)
  • Layna Mosely, “Taking Workers’ Rights on the Road?:  Multinational Firms and the Transmission of Labor Practices.” (November Seminar)
  • North Carolina Banking Commissioner, Joseph Smith. (December Seminar)
  • Saule Omarova, “License to Deal: Mandatory Approval of Complex Financial Products.”  ( January Seminar)
  • Eric Stein, Richard Newell and Ronnie Chatterji, “Rationalizing Regulation During Obama Presidency.”  (February Seminar)
  • Ben Waterhouse,  “The Unfinished Campaign for Regulatory Reform, 1977 – 1983” (February Seminar)
  • Jonas Monast and Sarah Pilunkus “Considering Shale Gas Extraction in North Carolina: Lessons from Other States.” (March Seminar)
  • Matthew Adler, “Well-Being and Fair Distribution: Beyond Cost-Benefit Analysis” (March Public Event)
  • Ronnie Chatterji, “Do the Costs of Cooperation Drive the Gale of Creative Destruction? Commercialization Strategies in the Medical Device Industry” (April Seminar)
  • Alberto Alemanno, “New Frontiers of Regulation in Europe” (April Public Event)
  • Graduate Student Seminar (April Seminar)

2010-2011 Seminar Events

  • Eduardo Canedo on “The Radical Roots of American Deregulation” (October)
  • Panel Discussion on “Assessing the Outcome of Financial Reform” (November)
  • Dan Carpenter on “Reputation and Power” (December)
  • Nicholas Le Pan on “Lessons from the Financial Crisis:  Canada in Comparative Perspective” (February)
  • Shawn Donnelly on “Mostly Harmless: International Standard-Setting in Financial Markets after the Crisis” (March)
  • David Vogel on “The Politics of Precaution: Comparing Trends in Consumer and Environmental Risk Regulation in Europe and the United States” (April)
  • Panel Discussion on “Regulatory Innovation: The EPA and Climate Change” (April)