Education & Human Development

Interdisciplinary Themes

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

Led by the Social Science Research Institute

Based on the recognition that successfully reaching adulthood is about more than test scores, Bass Connections in Education & Human Development encompasses an interdisciplinary framework to engage students and faculty to develop the data, tools and practices that better link how we raise our children—in schools, in families and in communities—to positive life outcomes in an interconnected global society.

We see “education” not just as formal K-12 schooling but also as learning via families and social channels, and “human development” as encompassing valued life outcomes across ages including health, social and familial connections, happiness, income and employment.

Education & Human Development Project Teams

Brain lifting weights

Exercise is associated with mental and cognitive health benefits including reduced stress reactivity, depression, anxiety, dementia and ADHD symptoms, as well as improvements in body image, self-esteem and learning. However, exercise is not beneficial to everyone at all times. Research is needed to... Read more about Exercise and Mental Health (2018-2019) »

Students asking questions

Incivility and antagonism infect our political and online cultures. One promising remedy is to construct a culture of questioning, where people ask and answer questions about each other’s views and reasons instead of parodying and abusing each other. This project will identify a range of questions... Read more about How to Cure Political Polarization by Asking Questions (2018-2019) »

Youth voting graphic

Low levels of voter turnout among young people may not reflect a lack of civic-mindedness, but rather may be the consequence of a combination of institutional and motivational obstacles that get in the way of people participating in politics. In order to address these obstacles, researchers and... Read more about Making Young Voters: Policy Reforms to Increase Youth Turnout (2018-2019) »

Children in a class doing yoga

The presence of yoga and meditation in educational settings has steadily increased, making its way from the periphery (after-school programs, yoga clubs) to a central part of school culture and curriculum through innovative programs. Despite the interest in yoga and mindfulness in K-12 settings,... Read more about Mindfulness in Human Development (2018-2019) »

El Sistema students playing music

Founded in Venezuela in 1975, El Sistema and its worldwide replications create an environment of opportunity through the collective practice of orchestral playing and choral singing as a model for personal, social, academic and musical development. Through a focus on low-income youth, these... Read more about Music for Social Change: Research in Practice with Kidznotes and El Sistema USA (2018-2019) »

OSPRI Lab logo

Open Source Pedagogy, Research + Innovation (OSPRI), a Duke-Red Hat partnership, applies open source principles and methodologies to teaching and learning. This project addresses the gap between how learning occurs outside and inside academic settings—between the participatory, social, crowdsourced... Read more about Open Source Pedagogy, Research + Innovation (OSPRI) Lab (2018-2019) »

Girls studying math

Women continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields in the United States. The gender gap in STEM fields exists at all levels, from childhood through career selection, and there are many causes for female underrepresentation found in recent research on the topic. Two major causes are students’ math... Read more about Problem-based Learning to Improve Girls' Math Identity (2018-2019) »

Image courtesy of Project Vox

Philosophy is a surprisingly static enterprise: the canonical figures in early modern philosophy, from Descartes and Locke to Hume and Kant, have remained essentially fixed in teaching and research for the past 50 years. The all-male canon reflects the fact that women were often excluded from early... Read more about Project Vox (2018-2019) »

Bass Connections team in Brazil by Adair Necalli

Since 2001, Brazil has engaged in a vast expansion of its higher education system, with the stated goals of promoting economic mobility and reducing social disparities. Enrollments in Brazilian universities have more than doubled, from 3.0 million to 7.8 million students, yet the broader effects of... Read more about The Cost of Opportunity: Access to Higher Education in Brazil (2018-2019) »

Student using computer

Every year, approximately 25% of American adults are living with a diagnosable mental illness. College students are a particularly high-risk group; students face a multitude of stressors that can exacerbate underlying predispositions to mental illness. There are significant barriers to the delivery... Read more about Virtual Avatar Coaches: Improving Mental Health Treatment for College Students with Accessible Peer Support (2018-2019) »

Students doing a hands-on activity

Targeted development of thinking skills known to enhance student success in school can help support young children who are struggling and at risk of falling behind. This project will develop and field-test a K-2 curriculum that intentionally integrates learning dispositions and thinking skills that... Read more about Wired for Learning: Supporting Thinking Skills in the K-2 Classroom (2018-2019) »

Education & Human Development Courses

Gateway Courses

EHD 290S-02: Social Science Research Lab: Evaluating Health Innovation

Spring 2019
Instructor: Jessica Sperling

Do you want on-the-ground experience in applied social science research? The Social Science Research Lab engages students in project-based learning in social science research principles and their real-world application. Read more about Social Science Research Lab: Evaluating Health Innovation »

Other Undergraduate Courses

ETHICS 497: Capstone Seminar: Polarization and Morality

Spring 2019
Instructor: Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

This intensive senior seminar is the capstone for the Ethics & Society Certificate. Students in this course choose a topic, read about and discuss that topic and then write a book together on that topic, editing each other’s chapters. Students bring together interdisciplinary insights from... Read more about Capstone Seminar: Polarization and Morality »

I&E 262: The 21st Century Student: Open Knowledge and Education Innovation

Instructor: Aria Chernik

According to 20th-century progressive educator Paulo Freire, education has the potential to be a great liberator or a systematic oppressor. Freire developed a critical pedagogy of liberation, but his efforts to provide widespread access to knowledge and transform the power imbalance between... Read more about The 21st Century Student: Open Knowledge and Education Innovation »

PUBPOL 237S-01: Research in International Policy Issues

Fall 2019
Instructor: Tana Johnson

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to surveying international policy issues that display different forms or policy responses in various geographical regions and cultures. Examples may include competition over energy resources, design of international organization, trends of human... Read more about Research in International Policy Issues »

PUBPOL 290S-04: Social Entrepreneurship and the Arts

Spring 2019
Instructor: Katie Wyatt

This course will train interested students in creative social entrepreneurship, allowing students to explore their innovative idea in the arts and social change.  Coursework will include exercises and readings in personal leadership development, developing skills in social entrepreneurship,... Read more about Social Entrepreneurship and the Arts »

Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

PUBPOL 590S-06: The Politics of Education

Fall 2018
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 »