Ward to teach in program that combats erosion of ethical norms by studying Nazi-era professionals

May 3, 2019Duke Law News

Associate Clinical Professor Jeff WardJeff Ward

Clinical Associate Professor Jeff Ward JD/LLM ’09 will spend two weeks this spring teaching in Germany and Poland in a program designed to give lawyers and other professionals insights and tools to combat the erosion of ethical norms.

Ward, the associate dean for technology and innovation and director of the Duke Center on Law & Technology, will be one of two members of the law faculty in the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE), which begins in Berlin on May 25th. FASPE fellowship recipients are students and early career practitioners in law, medicine, business, journalism, and seminary, who study the perpetrators of the Holocaust to understand how the ethical lapses of their professional counterparts allowed the normalization of Nazi policies and enabled Nazi-era crimes. Through historical study, discussion, and exploration of key sites in Berlin and Krakow as well as the Auschwitz concentration camp, fellows apply lessons from those ethical breakdowns to contemporary challenges facing their respective fields.

 “These topics are challenging, but it seems imperative to seek the lessons of the past, and I feel really privileged to be able to confront these issues with such thoughtful students and colleagues,” said Ward, who focuses his scholarship and professional activities on the law, policy, and ethics of emerging technologies, the future of lawyering, and the socio-economic effects of rapid technological change, with a focus on ensuring equitable access to the tools of economic growth and the resources of the law. Some of his current research examines the implications of advanced systems of artificial intelligence that can autonomously generate highly realistic digital artifacts, or deep fakes.

“Because of my focus on the ethical and legal challenges posed by emerging technologies, I’m particularly eager to explore parallel topics — such as data privacy, individual autonomy, lapses in informed consent, tools of government surveillance, etc. — from times of turmoil and what they might teach us about how to move forward tomorrow.”

Ward will share FASPE law teaching duties with Eric Muller, the Dan K. Moore Distinguished Professor of Law in Jurisprudence and Ethics at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

FASPE, a New York-based nonprofit, has offered fellowships since 2009. The 2019 program includes more than 60 fellows.