New Project Teams Will Delve Into Duke’s History to Mark the Centennial

May 30, 2023

All current Duke undergraduate students and incoming and current Duke graduate students are invited to apply by August 23 at 5:00 p.m. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Centennial team graphic.

In 1924, a gift from James B. Duke turned Trinity College into a fully-fledged research university — but certainly not the Duke we know today. One hundred years ago, Duke's places were different: the university had no lush gardens, no hospital, no towering chapel. What’s more, its people were different: Duke was segregated for almost 40 years, with its first Black undergraduates enrolling in 1963.

Today, Duke is an internationally recognized university and health system, attracting some of the world’s brightest minds. But what did it take to get here? How did time and place shape the trajectory of the institution? What accomplishments should we celebrate? What historic injustices threaten equity today? These are some of the many questions to ask as we mark the university’s centennial.

Four new Bass Connections project teams starting this fall will explore the nuances of Duke’s 100-year history. As they collect oral histories and dig into the archives, their research will touch on various defining features of Duke’s first century, such as medicine, education, athletics and the Bull City itself.

Students can apply for these teams on a rolling basis through August 23 at 5:00 p.m. Applications will be reviewed as they are received and recruitment for each team will be closed once positions for that team are filled.

Please follow the links below for more information on each project team. Please note that students who are already on a project team for 2023-2024 are not eligible to apply.

Agents of Change: Portraits of Activism in the History of Duke Health

The histories of medical institutions often focus on the work of a few larger-than-life leaders, physicians and researchers. Less remembered are those figures whose voices challenged the status quo — yet, these are the stories that most need to be collected, preserved and made accessible. This project team will create a digital collection of historical documents and oral histories highlighting the contributions of 15-20 underappreciated activists in the history of Duke Health. 

Duke and the Evolution of Higher Education

In the past fifty years, Duke University has transformed from a well-regarded regional institution with just a few mainframe computers to a leading global university. But what forces have shaped Duke into the institution it is today? This project team will generate a set of 40-50 oral history interviews that provide perspectives on the key social, political and educational movements that have remade Duke over the past half-century.

Race and Sports: C.B. Claiborne and Duke Men’s Black Basketball History

Duke University men’s basketball is one of the most storied programs in basketball history; however, the program has a complicated history and relationship with Black America. Before 1965, the team was racially segregated. This project team will produce a feature-length documentary on Duke men’s basketball history through the lens and life of its first Black player, C.B. Claiborne, using his legacy to better understand the role of sports and race in the life of the university. 

World Building at Duke in an Emerging Durham: 1924-1932

While the history of Duke’s early building campaign has been researched in its essential parts, the development of the building process itself and the mutual influence of the university and the community remain under-investigated. By taking the building of Duke’s campus as a focal point in the history of Durham, this team will seek to address crucial questions of Duke’s and Durham’s histories and examine how the seeds of our current structures, systems and inequities were planted.

Why Centennial Projects?

These four teams are the result of a special call for proposals related to Duke’s centennial, which will be celebrated from January 2024 through May 2025. This opportunity provides space for faculty and students to undertake a deep exploration of Duke during this milestone and represents an important avenue to engage the community in clarifying and advancing Duke’s aspirations for the next century.

Bass Connections will also support four semester-long courses linked to the centennial starting in spring 2024.

These projects and courses are part of a "pop-up" theme. Past Bass Connections pop-up themes have focused on hurricane recovery and resilienceimmigration, the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthening democracy in a polarized world.

Wondering About Summer Recruitment for Additional 2023-2024 Teams?

Two additional 2023-2024 teams are still recruiting student team members on a rolling basis. Students can apply using our online applicationThe application deadline is August 23 at 5:00 p.m. Please note that applications will be reviewed as they are received and recruitment will be closed once positions for each team have been filled.

Hip Hop Pedagogies: Education for Citizenship in Brazil and the United States
  • All current Duke undergraduate students and current and incoming graduate students may apply
  • Preference for applicants with Portuguese language skills and/or interest and experience in the interpretive social sciences, education, public policy, social justice, audio and visual arts and hip hop

In the early 2000s, Black Brazilian rapper Dudu de Morro Agudo began working to promote racial, social and political awareness through hip hop, dance, and visual and media arts on the urban periphery of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In partnership with Dudu, this project team brings together scholars, artists and students from Duke, North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and the Federal Rural University in Rio de Janeiro to investigate a community-based pedagogical practice that reaches Black and poor youth in urban Brazil by building a democratic culture of rights and citizenship.

Material Culture: Performance in Design
  • All current Duke undergraduate students and current and incoming graduate students may apply
  • Applicants from engineering and the sciences are especially encouraged to apply 

The role of design industries in the built environment has been elevated into the public consciousness deeply over the past two decades. This project team will examine design materials through a historical and cultural lens, exploring the deep histories and politics surrounding raw material location, sourcing, transportation, mechanization, installation and performance.

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