Bass Connections Open

Interdisciplinary Themes

Bass Connections projects, courses and summer programs are aligned with the following themes:

Bass Connections Open supports interdisciplinary, team-based research projects and courses that fall outside the scope of the existing themes. This experimental channel is designed to identify percolating areas of interest not addressed by the current themes.

As part of Bass Connections Open, we also issue occasional special calls for proposals related to emerging issues of societal importance (otherwise known as a “pop-up” theme). Past pop-up themes have yielded research teams related to hurricane recovery and resilience (with a specific focus on the local impacts of Hurricane Florence); immigration; and the COVID-19 pandemic.



Bass Connections Open Project Teams

Working on math.

This project team will investigate internal and external factors that contribute to students’ math identities and increase awareness of these factors. Read more about Assessing and Improving Girls' and Women's Math Identity (2022-2023) »

Image: Duke University first-year medical students listen to a lecture about the brain in the Learning Hall of the Trent Semans.

This project team will develop and implement seminars for students and faculty on trauma-engaged teaching and learning and will collect data to inform future efforts to better support trauma survivors in the classroom. Read more about Developing Best Practices for Trauma-Informed Teaching and Learning (2022-2023) »

Aerial view of downtown Durham.

This team will examine current research partnerships processes and practices at Duke and in the Durham community to consider mechanisms for enhancing the availability, success and equitable practice of these partnerships. Read more about Equitable University-Community Research Partnerships (2022-2023) »

Multi-Nucleated Muscle Cells Grown in Culture.

This project team will establish the framework for developing an interdisciplinary laboratory space for artists at Duke and expand the repertoire of practiced-based research methods in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies to include the media and techniques from the biological... Read more about Laboratory Art in Practice: Building a Model for the Art/Science Lab at Duke (2022-2023) »

"I Voted" stickers.

This project team will determine if a scorecard evaluation of state election systems or other key aspects of American democracy can make a positive contribution to the debate over democracy protection. Read more about Measuring Democracy in America (2022-2023) »

Collaborating group.

This project team aims to employ an equity-centered innovation approach to create solutions across social sectors, thereby elevating the voices of stakeholders who have traditionally been excluded from problem-solving and decision-making processes. Read more about Open Design Studio: Participatory Solutions for Human Flourishing (2022-2023) »


This project team will explore the social, political and health impacts of political polarization in Mainline clergy and congregations with the ultimate aim of developing recommendations to clergy for how to facilitate civil discourse and bridge political difference. Read more about Politics and Polarization in Mainline Protestant Congregations (2022-2023) »


This project team will expand Project Vox beyond individual philosophers, highlighting philosophical ideas that arose through conversation and collaboration. Read more about Project Vox: Conducting Philosophical Research on the Margins (2022-2023) »

Dream puppet by Marina Tsaplina. Photograph by Brian Christianson (Orion Magazine, December 2021).

This project team will explore ecological consciousness, disability and embodiment through the creation of an interactive, multisite puppetry installation that incorporates innovative technologies and site-specific histories, sounds and communities. Read more about Socially Engaged Art and Tech at the Intersections of Ecology, Disability and History (2022-2023) »

Bass Connections Open Courses

Gateway Courses

EGR 101L: Engineering Design and Communication

Spring 2022
Instructor: Michael Rizk

In this course, students work in a team to learn and apply the engineering design process to solve an open-ended, client-based problem drawn from a community partner. Read more about Engineering Design and Communication »

EGR 101L: Engineering Design and Communication

Fall 2022
Instructor: Ann Saterbak

In this course, students work in a team to learn and apply the engineering design process to solve an open-ended, client-based problem drawn from a community partner. Read more about Engineering Design and Communication »

I&E 290-02: Open Design Studio

Fall 2022
Instructor: Aria Chernik

Open design is a variation of design thinking and human-centered design that applies an ethical framework to the process of understanding complex problems and developing innovative solutions. Read more about Open Design Studio »

Other Undergraduate Courses

CHILDPOL 490S-01: Applied Collaborative Research on Early Childhood

Fall 2022
Instructor: Katie Rosanbalm

This course provides research consultation experience for advanced undergraduate students with past coursework in research methodology and/or early childhood development or policy. As part of an interdisciplinary consulting team, students will partner with an early childhood community organization... Read more about Applied Collaborative Research on Early Childhood »

DANCE 371SL: Artists in Healthcare: Collaborations and Complexities

Fall 2022
Instructor: Sarah Wilbur

This course will centralize creative practice as the axis of inquiry while students explore the rapidly expanding field of integrative art and health. Read more about Artists in Healthcare: Collaborations and Complexities »

ECE 383: Introduction to Robotics and Automation

Fall 2022
Instructor: Genevieve Lipp, Siobhan Oca

This introductory course is a challenging introduction to basic concepts used broadly in robotics and is valuable for students who wish to work in the area.  Read more about Introduction to Robotics and Automation »

HISTORY 235: Drugs, Chemicals and Health

Fall 2022
Instructor: Evan Hepler-Smith

This course asks how we might think historically about synthetic chemicals, natural alternatives and the benefits and hazards they pose to human health, society and environments. Read more about Drugs, Chemicals and Health »

I&E 252: Learning to Fail

Fall 2022
Instructor: Aaron Dinin

Most people spend their lives afraid of failing. Yet, many of the world’s most successful people failed numerous times on their paths toward success. The underlying question of this class is if failing is as antithetical to learning as we’re taught to believe. To explore this question, we will test... Read more about Learning to Fail »

I&E 295S-01: Arts Entrepreneurship

Spring 2022
Instructor: Douglas Green, John Supko

In this course, small teams of students from different fields will work together on an arts-based entrepreneurial project. The goal of the course is to create a business plan and launch ventures in areas of the arts. Read more about Arts Entrepreneurship »

Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

I&E 510: Social Innovation Practicum

Spring 2022
Instructor: Matt Nash, Paul Bloom

In the Social Innovation Practicum, students learn about and support the design, development, assessment and scaling of innovative, sustainable approaches to addressing critical social and environmental problems in Durham and around the world. Read more about Social Innovation Practicum »

PUBPOL 590-03: Well-being Economics

Spring 2022
Instructor: Dirk Philipsen

How do we build an economy that prioritizes human welfare over economic growth? How do we serve ecological, economic and social goals within corresponding constraints? How do we understand and evaluate progress? Read more about Well-being Economics »

PUBPOL 590S-03: The Challenge for Business and Society: From Risk to Reward

Fall 2022
Instructor: Stanley Litow

This class will focus on the role of business in addressing some of the most critical societal problems such as labor practices, environmental performance, community engagement, supply chain practices and diversity and inclusion. Read more about The Challenge for Business and Society: From Risk to Reward »

PUBPOL 590S-04: The Politics of Education

Fall 2022
Instructor: Stanley Litow

This class will focus on the state of public education in America and the potential ways of addressing the challenges of improving student achievement. Read more about The Politics of Education »

Graduate Courses

PUBPOL 830-11: The Role of the Federal Reserve in Community Development

Spring 2022
Instructor: Pope McCorkle

This seminar will explore how the nation’s central bank works to solve critical community development challenges facing the country, including expanding the supply of affordable housing, increasing small business lending and reducing inequality, while introducing master’s students to potential... Read more about The Role of the Federal Reserve in Community Development »

PUBPOL 890: Evaluation Design and Implementation: Understanding Impact and Improving Effectiveness

Fall 2022
Instructor: Jessica Sperling

Over the course of the semester, this course will address central conceptual, pragmatic and empirical processes in evaluation, treating evaluation as a mechanism for informing program design. Students will apply learning through partnership with real-world organization/program. Read more about Evaluation Design and Implementation: Understanding Impact and Improving Effectiveness »