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

Alternate means of escape.

The project team will explore how visual, theatrical and sonic arts can play a role in educating various publics, provoking action and developing resilient futures in an age in which human activity has had a fundamental influence on the climate and environment. Read more about Arts and the Anthropocene: Crisis and Resilience in North Carolina Waterways (2020-2021) »


This project team will examine how the U.S. collects and uses immigrants’ biometric data as well as the ethical tensions underlying the imperative to balance national security alongside the rights of migrants. Read more about Biometrics and Immigration Policy (2020-2021) »


This project will attempt to bridge the gap between patients and potentially life-saving research by exploring ways research can be transmitted, sourced and augmented by new media technologies. Read more about Crowdsourced Health: Online Patient Communities Enabling Health Innovation (2020-2021) »


This project team will examine care coordination for children with medical complexity through the framework of human-centered design, a problem-solving approach that utilizes iterative steps to tailor-make solutions for complex problems. Read more about Design Thinking: A Novel Approach to Pediatric Complex Care Coordination (2020-2021) »

Durham Performing Arts Center event.

This project team will examine how trauma affects students’ experience of academic work at Duke and how classes can be taught, and academic programs be administered, in order to cultivate an environment in which survivors of trauma can thrive. Read more about Developing Best Practices for Trauma-informed Teaching and Learning (2020-2021) »

Student presenting research.

This project team will investigate how to integrate behavioral science research and policy questions into disaster response measures and methods in the Kathmandu Valley. Read more about Earthquake Early Warning in Nepal: Technology, Behavioral Science and Policy (2020-2021) »


This project team will develop a methodology and a pedagogical tool that will allow scholars and students to navigate and experience premodern maps through 3D simulation and gaming. Read more about Mapping History: Seeing Premodern Cartography through GIS and Game Engines (2020-2021) »


This project team will strengthen and extend the work of Project Vox, a scholarly and pedagogical digital guide to early modern women philosophers. Read more about Project Vox: Recovering the World of Women Philosophers in Early Modern Europe (2020-2021) »


This project team will develop and begin to implement a roadmap for goals of care conversations that ensure all patients have access to open, accurate and empathetic communication. Read more about REGAIN: Roadmap for Evaluating Goals in Advanced Illness Navigation (2020-2021) »

Katie Sellgren.

Building off the work of last year’s team, this project team will develop integrated inline sensors for real-time categorization of bowel movements and further leverage the Smart Sampling Toilet platform. Read more about Smart Toilet: A Disruptive Technology to Improve Health and Wellness (2020-2021) »

Immigration word cloud.

This project team will examine the impact of the current U.S. immigration climate on the mental health outcomes of Latinx immigrants living in North Carolina from 2017-2020 through integrating data from a Duke School of Nursing study with immigration-related media resources. Read more about U.S. Immigration Climate and Mental Health Outcomes of Latinx Immigrants (2020-2021) »


This project will consider how preaching has addressed important questions of hospitality, demographic change and public policy for “the other” to discern how preaching informs, ignores or intensifies the complexity of immigration policies and immigrant experiences. Read more about When I Was a Stranger: Immigration, Preaching and Religious Imagination (2020-2021) »

Woman in hijab.

This project will explore the constraints to women’s mobility and employment and evaluate the impact of alternative policies to improve women’s access to physical mobility, as well as social and economic engagement. Read more about Women's Mobility, Employment and Empowerment in the Muslim World (2020-2021) »

Bass Connections Open Courses

Gateway Courses

EGR 101L: Engineering Design and Communication

Spring 2021
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 »

Other Undergraduate Courses

I&E 252: Learning to Fail

Spring 2021
Instructor: Amanda Starling Gould

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 290-01: Designing Ethical Tech

Fall 2020; Spring 2021
Instructor: Aria Chernik

No technology is value-neutral. In this course, students will investigate the intersections of design, ethics and technology. The course will ask how technologies can reinforce forms of freedom and oppression; how digital innovations, such as machine learning and algorithmic automation, can... Read more about Designing Ethical Tech »

I&E 290-03: Innovation, Product and Design

Fall 2020
Instructor: Steven McClelland, Kevin Hoch and Megan Kelly Deyncourt

Through this exploratory course, students will foster a learning mindset by expanding their self-awareness and enhancing their teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills. Read more about Innovation, Product and Design »

I&E 295S-01: Arts Entrepreneurship

Spring 2021
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 »

PUBPOL 301: Political Analysis for Public Policy-making

Spring 2021
Instructor: Deondra Rose

This course aims to provide students with knowledge and skills to engage in powerful policy analysis that takes politics seriously. Read more about Political Analysis for Public Policy-making »

Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

I&E 510: Social Innovation Practicum

Spring 2021
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 »

I&E 590-02: Open Design + Innovation

Fall 2020; Spring 2021
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 + Innovation »

I&E 590-02: New Ventures Clinic-Healthcare

Fall 2020
Instructor: Rob Hallford, Sharlini Sankaran

The New Ventures Clinic - Healthcare is an opportunity for students to work on commercialization plans for technologies developed at Duke University, in particular in the areas of therapeutics (pharmaceuticals), diagnostics and medical devices. Read more about New Ventures Clinic-Healthcare »

PUBPOL 590S-01: The Challenge for Business and Society: From Risk to Reward

Fall 2020
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 »

Graduate Courses

NURSING 484-001: Interprofessional Care of the Critically Ill Patient across the Lifespan 

Spring 2021
Instructor: Lisa S Lewis, Margory A Molloy, Christina Rae Leonard

This course will help students design and provide holistic, evidence-based nursing care to individuals with complex health problems across the lifespan and across care settings. Students collaborate with members of the health care team to plan, implement and evaluate the care provided to... Read more about Interprofessional Care of the Critically Ill Patient across the Lifespan   »

PUBPOL 830-12: The Role of the Federal Reserve in Community Development

Spring 2021
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 850: Using Human-centered Design

Spring 2021
Instructor: Tom Allin, Blythe Meyer

The course will give students a set of hard skills associated with design-thinking and also allow students to create and deliver measurable improvements for an organization in the Durham community. Read more about Using Human-centered Design »