Bass Connections Annual Report 2016-2017

Bass Connections Annual Report

This past April, hundreds of faculty, students, and community members packed into a hall next to Cameron Indoor Stadium to hear undergraduate and graduate students proudly share the outcomes of their year-long Bass Connections research projects. This noisy room of people from every corner of Duke embodied the dynamic and collaborative environment for interdisciplinary, faculty-mentored research that Bass Connections has created over the past four years.

Students described how they tackled important societal challenges that ranged from reforming Medicaid in North Carolina, stemming the opioid epidemic, and preventing school dropouts, to harnessing the ocean’s energy, reducing the exposure of children and families to harmful chemicals in Latin America, and using memory studies to examine the complex history of race and social injustice right here in Durham. These teams developed prototypes, conducted archeological digs, produced policy reports and recommendations, collected data to aid future research, published papers, and created art exhibits.

For students, such experiences sharpen intellectual teamwork and communications skills while providing an intense introduction to applied interdisciplinary research. For faculty, these research teams create rich opportunities for mentoring and rethinking pedagogical approaches, while also opening up new vistas for long-term research and/or civic engagement.

This year, we focused more intently on enriching the educational pathways that complement our project teams. Increasing numbers of students also engage with Bass Connections through gateway courses, summer research experiences, interdisciplinary and team-based courses, and capstone research projects. Each of these experiences, to varying degrees, include signatures of the Bass Connections model: team-based inquiry; problem-centered learning; integration across student levels and with faculty; interdisciplinary exploration; and external engagement.

A key goal for the years ahead is to partner with schools across Duke to embed elements of the Bass Connections model into other offerings, providing the opportunity for students to benefit from collaborative and applied research regardless of whether they formally participate in Bass Connections. We will also broaden the program’s reach by creating a new mechanism for faculty to propose year-long project teams that fall outside of our current five themes of Bass Connections, but that otherwise meet our criteria.

Bass Connections depends on the energy and ingenuity of our faculty, students, staff, and community partners, as well as the steadfast support of our donors. We are grateful to everyone whose hard work has shaped this new model of integrating education, research, and outreach.

Edward J. Balleisen, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies
Hallie Knuffman, Director, Bass Connections (through March 2017)
Laura Howes, Director, Bass Connections (as of May 2017)

Explore the publication above, view a PDF, jump to the contents below or request a copy.

The Bass Connections Model
2016-2017 Participation
2016-2017 Leadership
2016-2017 Selected Highlights
Program Evaluation
Bass Connections Showcase and Awards