Information, Society & Culture

Interdisciplinary Themes

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

Led by the Rhodes Information Initiative at Duke

Access to unprecedented amounts of information is creating new opportunities for Duke students and faculty, working together in multidisciplinary teams, to actively engage with and change the world around them. At the same time, the availability of personal data published by smartphones, web browsers, social media and surveillance technologies is exposing society to new risks.

Bass Connections in Information, Society & Culture combines coursework, co-curricular experiences and integrated project teams to explore the history and evolution of society and culture through the lens of information, using the latest computational methods to understand society’s most pressing problems in new and creative ways.

Data+ is a ten-week summer research experience for undergraduates and graduate student mentors interested in exploring new data-driven approaches to interdisciplinary challenges.

Information, Society & Culture Project Teams

Image: Brain showing hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (plaques in blue), by Alvin Gogineni, Genentech, NIH Image Gallery

This project team will investigate intricate alterations in the topology of structural and functional MRI-based brain networks from a cognitively normal state through mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. Read more about Analyzing Alzheimer's Biomarkers Through Dynamic Brain Topology (2024-2025) »

Image: DIBS cube structure, with a mockup of brain image overlaid.

This project team will explore emerging technologies to develop creative ways of visualizing the brain and brain science for both public impact and educational purposes. Read more about Brain Portal: Designing Multimedia Displays for Duke Neuroscience (2024-2025) »

Image: Duke iGEM logo from 2022-23 team website

 This project team will develop a genetically engineered machine motivated by current research in synthetic biology and support the greater community with open-source access to all team materials. Read more about Duke iGEM: Synthetic Biology for Human Health and Society (2024-2025) »

Map of land granted to the Virginia Company by the charter of 1609

This project traces how the discourse of commercial consumption and the labor needed to sustain Early Modern Markets is presented in the pamphlets, sermons and meeting records produced for and responding to the English Trading Companies.  Read more about Ethical Consumption Before Capitalism (2024-2025) »


This project team will develop a low-cost laparoscopic simulator for surgeons in Uganda.  Read more about Expanding Laparoscopic Simulation in Uganda (2024-2025) »

Image: Video still from CovIdentify website

This project team will build and refine an online infection detection platform that populates and translates wearable data from a variety of sources in an easy-to-use manner in order to inform the onset and trajectory of illness for Covid-19 and other diseases (e.g., flu). Read more about Further Developing Duke's Wearable Infection Detection Platform (2024-2025) »

Image: Data visualization of marine data, by Ars Electronica, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This project team will leverage cognitive science tools to evaluate some of the most popular data visualization “best practices” and adjudicate between ways of applying them to individual data visualizations. Read more about Improving Data Visualization With Cognitive Science (2024-2025) »


This project team will conduct a comprehensive inventory and analysis of race-based information inequalities. Read more about Information Inequalities and Public Policy (2024-2025) »


Background Platform accountability, or the evaluation of how a platform (i.e., Facebook) demonstrates secure data management processes, is important to how we assess the impact of a platform on security and society. Legislation and policy have to be carefully constructed to monitor and regulate... Read more about Platform Accountability in Technology Policy (2024-2025) »

Information, Society & Culture Courses

Gateway Courses

ISS 110: Information, Society & Culture

Fall 2024
Instructor: Astrid Giugni

This course will delve into information, society and culture across disciplines. It will explore all aspects of information theory and practice, including computational and mathematical, and investigate how information in the context of the social sciences and humanities is transforming research. Read more about Information, Society & Culture »

Other Undergraduate Courses

ARTHIST 231: History of Art Markets

Spring 2024
Instructor: Hans Van Miegroet

This course is an analytical survey of the emergence of art markets, interactions between market behavior(s) and visual/media culture(s). Read more about History of Art Markets »

ARTHIST 305L: Virtual Museums: Theories and Methods of 21st-century Museums

Spring 2024
Instructor: Maurizio Forte

This course focuses on how the“Internet of Things,” augmented reality technologies and new data analyses of artifacts will transform the missions, roles and goals of museums and collections. Read more about Virtual Museums: Theories and Methods of 21st-century Museums »

BIOLOGY 325: Current Technologies in Genomics and Precision Medicine

Fall 2024
Instructor: Susanne Haga

This course aims to provide a comprehensive overview of genome science technologies, clinical applications and policy and ethical issues related to the conduct of genome sciences research and clinical implementation. Read more about Current Technologies in Genomics and Precision Medicine »

ISS 356S: Digital Durham

Spring 2024
Instructor: Phil Stern, Victoria Szabo

This course engages students in representing Durham’s past and present through digital media. Read more about Digital Durham »

ISS 495S: Research Capstone

Spring 2024
Instructor: Astrid Giugni

ISS certificate students plan, research and create new technology projects designed to facilitate interdisciplinary collaborative research, synthesizing their coursework in the program. Read more about Research Capstone »

SOCIOL 347: Managing Networks

Spring 2024
Instructor: James Moody

Networks are pervasive in the social, economic, political and natural worlds. Network data and methods – and concurrently our ability to conceptualize and analyze networks – have expanded dramatically in recent years, and Duke is a central location in which this research is being conducted. This... Read more about Managing Networks »

STA 313L: Advanced Data Visualization

Spring 2024
Instructor: Mine Cetinkaya-Rundel

This course is all about the art and science of visualizing data. Students will learn about the what (types of visualizations, tools to produce them), the how (start with a design, pre-process the data, map it to graphical attributes, make strategic decisions about visual encoding, post-process for... Read more about Advanced Data Visualization »

Undergraduate/Graduate Courses

ARTHIST 508S: Art and Markets

Spring 2024
Instructor: Hans Van Miegroet

This course is an analytical and applied historical exploration of cultural production and local art markets, and their emergence throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Students learn the criteria for valuation of imagery and what makes art as a commodity desirable or fashionable. Read more about Art and Markets »

ARTHIST 580S: Interdisciplinary Digital Humanities

Fall 2024
Instructor: Paul Jaskot, Edward Triplett

This course will explore multimodal interdisciplinary digital humanities in theory and practice. Read more about Interdisciplinary Digital Humanities »

Graduate Courses

ISS 758S: Digital Durham

Spring 2024
Instructor: Phil Stern, Victoria Szabo

This course engages students in representing Durham’s past and present through digital media. Students digitize historical and cultural materials, conduct research in the archives and public records and present information through various forms including web pages, databases, maps, video and other... Read more about Digital Durham »