Faculty Seek Graduate Students to Partner on Course Design

March 29, 2022


Eight faculty are seeking applications from graduate students who are interested in working with a faculty sponsor to create a new course or redesign an existing course that integrates collaborative, project-based work as a central element of the course design. This call is part of the Collaborative Project Expeditions program hosted by Bass Connections, which provides graduate students with a stipend of $1,500 to spend approximately 75 hours throughout the summer or a semester developing the collaborative project course in consultation with their faculty sponsor.

Any master's, professional or doctoral student may apply, but preference will be given to doctoral students. Interested applicants can expect to gain skills in course design and pedagogical innovation. 

We offer two distinct ways for graduate students to participate in this program. You may:

  1. Apply directly to one of the opportunities listed below in which a faculty member is currently seeking support to (re)design a course this summer or next fall (Summer or Fall 2022).
  2. Propose a new expedition project in partnership with a faculty sponsor of your choice (see more information about this rolling opportunity, which is only open to doctoral students).

Current Course Development Opportunities

This list includes opportunities to partner with faculty who are seeking support to (re)design a course this summer or next fall. Please review this list and follow the instructions below to apply.

Courses Seeking Support in Summer 2022

EGRMGMT 590-07 Managing Energy Transitions – this position has been filled

Faculty sponsor: Bobby Compton

Course description: This course covers various fossil fuel and renewable technologies for generation, transportation and storage through the objective lens of engineering physics fundamentals, financial economic principles and environmental science considerations. In addition to class lectures, out of class study assignments, homework assignments, cases studies and various learning assessments, a significant portion of class will involve student teams working on a real-world, energy transition/decarbonization project challenge. This project includes interactions with industry mentors and culminates in each team providing an executive summary solution presentation and a written detailed report at the end of the semester.

Applicant specifications: Applicants should be from energy, environmental or mechanical engineering with coursework in laws of thermodynamics and energy calculations and an interest in mathematics and economics. Tasks may include: developing interesting/illustrative problem sets, solutions and case studies related to generation, transportation or storage problems and carbon emissions; exploring alternative methods for course problems and delivery (e.g., Khan Academy, Sakai quizzes); and creating and evaluating new course content related to energy engineering fundamentals.

Occupational Therapy Doctorate Capstone Course – this position has been filled

Faculty sponsor: Cambey Mikush

Course description: In this course OTD students will learn to design and implement applied projects in collaboration with a community partner. Students, in collaboration with interprofessional stakeholders, will use a human-centered design framework to identify a complex issue and design and implement a project that synthesizes the knowledge gained in their OTD curriculum.

Applicant specifications: Applicants may be from any discipline but should be excited to engage as a thought partner in the development of the capstone course series in the new Occupational Therapy Doctorate Division. Outstanding candidates will have a background or interest in human-centered design with a passion for helping build a more inclusive world for diverse populations. Tasks may include: collaborating to design learning modules, creating case studies or sample projects, compiling or developing resources, or designing creative assessments using universal design for learning principles. This is an opportunity to engage in innovative course development from the ground up.

Courses Seeking Support in Fall 2022

PUBPOL 890 Ethics and Equity in Media, Documentary and Technology – this position has been filled

Faculty sponsor: Chris Sims

Course description: PUBPOL 890 Ethics and Equity in Media, Documentary and Technology: In this course, students engage with media, journalism and technology industry case studies examining contemporary and historical ethical questions around race, gender, sexuality, class and similar dynamics. Students will produce the initial curatorial design of a public exhibition around the rich and contentious history of race and racism in Alamance County, North Carolina. Working in teams, students will explore archival material, conduct oral history interviews, write short companion text pieces for use in the exhibition, propose visual lay-outs and fabricate exhibition models.

Applicant specifications: Applicants should be from the humanities, interpretive social sciences or public policy and have skills in project management as well as experience in North Carolina history, race relations, book publications, and/or exhibition design. Tasks may include: design of course materials and resources for student teams; development of assessment rubrics; and outreach to project partners and relationships cultivation.

Leadership and the Arts – this position has been filled

Faculty sponsor: Andrew Nurkin

Course description: This course explores two parallel questions: What kinds of leadership do the arts require now, and what can we learn from the arts, broadly defined, about leadership in other contexts? Students will learn about effective leadership practices and common challenges in the arts, from anchor cultural institutions like museums to informal artistic collectives. Students also experience and discuss the arts in practice to understand how every cultural work is both produced by, and expressive of, a specific vision of leadership. Possible project-based assignments for this course include: a student-curated exhibition of socially engaged arts; or a set of interviews/oral histories with arts leaders about their challenges and lessons from the past two years, as the basis of a compendium of case studies about innovative leadership and policy ideas within the cultural sector.

Applicant specifications: Applicants should have some experience or a strong interest in working in the arts and culture sector and some familiarity with public policy. Tasks may include: preparing course materials, including assessment rubrics and model responses; coordinating with external partners; preparing research briefs on select topics in arts policy for student teams; and working to design project plans.

STA/ISS 313 Advanced Data Visualization – this position has been filled

Faculty sponsor: Mine Çetinkaya-Rundel

Course description: This course explores the art and science of visualizing data. Students examine the purpose, process and theory behind different kinds of visualization as well as the tools needed to create them. Students use R statistical programming language as well as Git and GitHub for versioning and collaboration.

Applicant specifications: Applicants may come from any discipline but should have experience working with R and a strong interest in data visualization. Tasks may include: designing project milestones and deliverables; identifying and cultivating relationships with internal and external project partners for data sources; outlining guidelines for student teams; designing and improving modules on accessible visualizations and mapping.


Italian/French/Spanish 303 Fake News Across Languages and Cultures – this position is still OPEN; faculty will review applications on a rolling basis!

Faculty sponsors: Eileen Anderson, Mattia Begali and Germain Choffart

Course description: This course investigates how “fake news” circulates across languages and cultures, deeply affecting the public discourse and everyday information practices of people in different countries. While debates about fake news tend to be framed around the U.S. national context, this class points to the need to understand disinformation as a global phenomenon rooted in specific national and regional contexts. The class will be co-taught by faculty in three different languages (Italian, French and Spanish) and will encourage a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to disinformation.

Applicant specifications: Faculty are seeking support from two graduate students for this course, which will be taught in Spring 2023. One graduate student will collaborate with faculty during Fall 2022 on course design and one graduate student will support the course while it is being taught in Spring 2023. Ideal applicants will have leadership skills, experience searching for and evaluating information from different sources (e.g., archives, databases, social media sites, newspapers), and reading knowledge of French, Spanish and/or Italian (preferred but not required). In Fall 2022, tasks may include: primary source identification (e.g., news, memes, videos, articles, social media posts) and collaboration with librarians to design a library guide of secondary sources in English on dis/misinformation. In Spring 2023, tasks may include: supporting student’s collaborative projects; identifying and cultivating relationships with experts in the field for workshops; creation of searchable corpora from social media; and archiving class materials at the end of the semester for future use.

Application and Selection

To apply for a current course design opening, please email a resume and a statement of interest to the relevant faculty sponsor. Your statement of interest should include relevant background, skills and interests; a strong articulation of why you are a good fit for the opportunity; as well as how this work fits into your academic and/or professional development pathway at Duke. Faculty may require additional materials and/or an interview.

Applications will be reviewed as they are received, but we encourage prospective applicants to apply by no later than May 1 for summer opportunities and August 1 for fall opportunities. Positions will be filled on a rolling basis. 

What Are Collaborative Projects?

Collaborative projects are learning experiences that require students to work in teams on a research question using the academic knowledge and skills concurrently being developed in the course. Collaborative projects strengthen students’ ability to apply classroom learning to interdisciplinary or disciplinary challenges and work effectively on teams, and should culminate in the creation of new knowledge, tangible works and/or creative or artistic products.

How Does the Expedition Work?

Participating graduate students will be expected to work 75 hours over the course of the term to develop their collaborative project. Depending on the objectives of the faculty sponsor and participating student, this time may include:

  • Consultations between the student and faculty sponsor
  • Development or modification of a course syllabus and project modules
  • Design of course materials and resources for student teams
  • Development of assessment rubrics
  • Outreach to project partners and relationship cultivation

Students will participate in a brief virtual boot camp at the beginning of the program (depending on the number of students selected) and will have the option to “meet” as a cohort to brainstorm ideas and share experiences and lessons learned. Students will also be expected to write a short reflection on their experience for publication or for use in a professional portfolio or relevant job market materials related to pedagogy, teaching, teamwork/collaboration and/or project management. 

Benefits for Graduate Students

Through this opportunity, graduate students will have the chance to practice course design, collaboration, project scoping and management, team building and leadership.

Ideally, this experience will enable graduate students to:

  • Work collaboratively with faculty (and possibly staff and external partners) on course design, project management and team building
  • Think critically about course pedagogy and when to integrate collaborative projects into courses
  • Develop concrete learning objectives and clear course syllabi
  • Plan and scope applied research projects, especially with short timelines
  • Facilitate teamwork (e.g., build effective teams, develop and scaffold key resources, troubleshoot interpersonal/team issues)
  • Broaden their intellectual networks and build strategic external partnerships
  • Teach and mentor undergrads

For examples of how prior graduate students have benefited from this experience, check out these reflections:

  • Ph.D. student Colin Birkhead (Sociology), who redesigned SOC 250: Immigration and Health to integrate client-based collaborative projects (read about the experience from the point of view of his faculty mentor, Jen’nan Read)
  • Ph.D. student Siobhan Oca (Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science), who designed and taught ME: 490: Introduction to Robotics, which includes collaborative final projects

Eligibility and Funding Restrictions

Any master's, professional or doctoral student may apply, but preference will be given to doctoral students. Participating students are responsible for adhering to financial policies and restrictions (including restrictions on hours of work per week) set by grantors of any other fellowships or positions held during the funding period. Please note that some fellowships do not allow supplemental funding. Please see the Graduate School Supplementation Policy for more information. We also advise that students consult with their advisor and Director of Graduate Studies about how this opportunity would fit in their academic and funding plans for the proposed period of work.


Check out our Collaborative Project Courses: Course Design Resource Center to browse example syllabi, video advice from faculty, answers to common questions, links to templates and additional course design resources.

Learn More