Pickus, Noah 1964–

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Pickus, Noah 1964–

(Noah M. Jedidiah Pickus)


Born May 13, 1964; married Trudi Abel; children: two. Education: Princeton University, Ph.D.


Office—Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University, Box 90432, Durham, NC 27708; Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Box 90239, Durham, NC 27708-0239. E-mail—[email protected]


Duke University, Durham, NC, assistant professor of public policy, 1996-2002, adjunct instructor at Fuqua School of Business, 2006—, director of Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, 2004—, associate director of Kenan Institute for Ethics, 2004-07, Nannerl O. Keohane Director, 2007—; North Carolina State University, Raleigh, founding director of Institute for Emerging Issues, 2002-04; has also taught at Middlebury College. Adviser, Department of Homeland Security, Pew Charitable Trusts, Smith-Richardson Foundation, and other public and private organizations. Senior policy advisor, Arbor Group.


Fellowships from Thomas J. Watson Foundation (South Africa), A.W. Mellon Foundation, and H.B. Earhart Foundation.


(Editor) Immigration and Citizenship in the Twenty-first Century, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 1998.

True Faith and Allegiance: Immigration and American Civic Nationalism, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2005.

Also author of policy report Becoming American/America Becoming. Contributor to journals, including National Journal, Responsive Community, Claremont Review of Books, Freedom Review, and Center for Immigration Studies; commentator, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and other national media.


Noah Pickus is a university professor who specializes in the study of and implementation of policy regarding national identity, immigration, and citizenship. "During his tenure [as Nannerl O. Keohane Director at Duke University's Kenan Institute for Ethics]," declared a writer for the Duke University Office of News & Communications Web site, "Pickus has developed and expanded the institute's business ethics program, launched a university-wide research initiative on ‘Changing Institutional Cultures’ and led the graduate colloquium in ethics. In fall 2005, he led a collaborative process to develop the institute's new strategic plan." Pickus has also taught as an adjunct instructor in both the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy and the Fuqua School of Business. Previously, he worked with the governor of North Carolina to found and direct the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University.

In his capacity as director of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Pickus is responsible for bringing to light and debating ethical questions that arise through the advancement of technology and business practices. As technology becomes more complex, so do the questions of how—and when—we should use it to its fullest capacity. Questions of privacy increasingly conflict with implementation of policies intended to promote the public good. "How do people respond when there is pervasive visibility into their personal preferences or professional lives?" asked Connie Robbins Gentry in Chain Store Age. "What if a smart toilet automatically analyzed and reported if there was evidence of drugs in the flushes? In a retail setting, this might be construed as perpetual drug screening for employees."

Most of Pickus's publications, however, have been in the area of immigration: whether or not immigrants should be welcomed to the United States, how they start thinking of themselves as Americans, and what the government should do in order to help them turn into productive citizens. Becoming American/America Becoming, a policy report for the government, and Immigration and Citizenship in the Twenty-first Century, an examination of the ways changes to the Immigration and Naturalization Service's policies will impact topics like multiculturalism, civic virtue, and national identity. He is also the author of True Faith and Allegiance: Immigration and American Civic Nationalism, "a provocative account of nationalism and the politics of turning immigrants into citizens and Americans," according to a contributor to the Duke University Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy Web site. "He argues for a renewed American identity that tempers polarized positions on immigration and citizenship."

The problem, briefly stated, is that the United States has a highly conflicted attitude toward immigration. Even in the 1780s and 1790s, very early in the country's history, immigrants were often held in suspicion and were denied the rights and liberties of other U.S. residents. At the same time, citizens honor their immigrant ancestors while opposing new immigrants who want the same opportunities their ancestors had. The process of turning those immigrants who were allowed in into citizens was often a long and arduous one, complicated by politics and popular resistance. "At the end of the twentieth century," explained Leonard Dinnerstein in the Journal of American History, "the concept of ‘citizenship’ was the hot topic among some of the most prominent historians. In True Faith and Allegiance, Noah Pickus analyzes the terms of citizenship and the tensions that were and are aroused by those who have it and those who want it."

Immigrants were meant to lose their former ethnic identities, but they were usually not given the full liberties of citizens. "For most historians," stated Richard J. Ellis in the American Historical Review, "the term ‘Americanization’ conjures up unpleasant images of early twentieth-century xenophobia, coercion, and intolerance. The effort to make Americans out of aliens in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was born of intense anxiety among the native born about the perils immigrants supposedly posed to the nation. Proponents of Americanization began the twentieth century by trying to eradicate ethnic identities and ended by barring the door to immigrants." True Faith and Allegiance, Ellis concluded, "succeeds in provoking us to think harder about the appropriate role of government in the process of making Americans out of immigrants. And for that, scholars and citizens are in Pickus's debt."



American Historical Review, February 1, 2007, Richard J. Ellis, review of True Faith and Allegiance: Immigration and American Civic Nationalism, p. 209.

Chain Store Age, November 1, 2005, Connie Robbins Gentry, "Talking Ethics: Technology Isn't Just about Processes, It's about People, Too," p. 68.

Ethics, July 1, 2000, Jeff Spinner-Halev, review of Immigration and Citizenship in the Twenty-first Century, p. 861.

International Migration Review, September 22, 2006, Jonathan M. Hansen, review of True Faith and Allegiance, p. 735.

Journal of American Ethnic History, March 22, 2001, Candice Bredbenner, review of Immigration and Citizenship in the Twenty-first Century, p. 150; March 22, 2007, Robert Zeidel, review of True Faith and Allegiance, p. 97.

Journal of American History, June 1, 2006, Leonard Dinnerstein, review of True Faith and Allegiance, p. 241.

Journal of Church and State, June 22, 2006, Robert F. Drinan, review of True Faith and Allegiance, p. 709.

Political Science Quarterly, June 22, 2006, Andrew L. Aoki, review of True Faith and Allegiance, p. 327.

Prairie Schooner, September 22, 1999, review of Immigration and Citizenship in the Twenty-first Century, p. 518.


Duke University Kenan Institute for Ethics Web site,http://kenan.ethics.duke.edu/ (April 24, 2008), author profile.

Duke University Office of News & Communications Web site,http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/ (April 24, 2008), "Noah Pickus Named Director of Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke."

Duke University Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy Web site,http://fds.duke.edu/ (April 24, 2008), author profile.

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