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 to change the world around them. At the same time, the unprecedented availability of personal information published by smartphones, web browsers and social media is exposing society to new risks.

Bass Connections in Information, Society & Culture combines coursework, co-curricular experiences and integrated project teams to explore the 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

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The United States possesses singular places where citizens and others can visit to absorb elements of the nation’s depth of pain, triumph, awe, reverence, disappointments and dreams. “Sacred spaces” refers to understanding America by literally standing in places and taking in layers of meaning that... Read more about America's Sacred Spaces (2018-2019) »

BD4RH logo

One-third of women who begin using a modern method of contraception in low-income countries discontinue within the first year, and half within the first two years, putting them at risk for unintended pregnancies as well as maternal morbidity and mortality. The current method of measuring... Read more about Big Data for Reproductive Health (2018-2019) »

“Duke University Commencement, 1931,” University Archives Photograph Collection, Box 50, Duke University Archives

Building Duke is a new initiative that will explore the conception, design and construction of the Duke campus as well as its changes and expansions. The principal aims are to offer an historical narrative of the physical environment that the Duke community inhabits and to explore the desires and... Read more about Building Duke: The Architectural History of Duke Campus from 1924 to the Present (2018-2019) »

American Tobacco Campus, Durham

Over the past ten years, Durham has witnessed a boom in cultural initiatives including the Durham Performing Arts Center, Golden Belt, 21c Museum Hotel and RUNAWAY clothes. These cultural productions have not only been seen as enriching the city’s image, but have also attracted other creative... Read more about Creative Industries and the Urban Environment (2018-2019) »

Students checking facts

Our society is struggling with an unprecedented amount of falsehoods, hyperboles and half-truths that do harm to democracy, health, economy and national security. Fact-checking is a vital tool for defending against this onslaught. Despite the rise of fact-checking efforts globally, fact-checkers... Read more about Data and Technology for Fact-checking (2018-2019) »

Women using a mobile phone for healthcare purposes

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in many low- and middle-income countries. With a nearly 100% mobile phone ownership rate in the country, Nepal’s Ministry of Health has prioritized mHealth interventions. This project will collaborate with Nepal’s female... Read more about Developing a Mobile Phone-based Community Health Program for Hypertension Control in Nepal (2018-2019) »

Duke iGEM student working in a lab

This Bass Connections project team will select a contemporary societal problem, including challenges to human health and disease, global health, sustainability and bioenergy, then propose and build a synthetic biological solution composed of a genetically engineered microbial machine. The team will... Read more about Duke Undergraduate International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Team (2018-2019) »

Graphic by GCB

The sequencing of the human genome heralded a new era in biomedical research. A key result has been the development of genomics-based tools to diagnose, predict disease onset or recurrence, tailor treatment options and assess treatment response. These advancements developed concurrently with... Read more about Enabling Precision Health and Medicine (2018-2019) »

Map of districts

Gerrymandering has been increasingly used to undermine the Democratic process. Although there remains no standard to detect partisan gerrymandering, researchers and policy makers have begun to develop potentially justiciable techniques. This project will test the hypothesis that bipartisan or... Read more about Gerrymandering and the Extent of Democracy in America (2018-2019) »

Hand over data

Data breaches and computer hacks are occurring at an alarming pace, exposing consumers’ financial information—as well as other information—to misappropriation. Where does this data go? Why do we feel so exposed and vulnerable? Should we care, especially in light of the fact that we voluntarily turn... Read more about How Do Cyberattacks Hurt Me? (2018-2019) »

Health workers

In the 1980s, the field of surgery advanced with the development of laparoscopy, a technology that allowed surgeons to make two to four small incisions and operate with an intra-abdominal camera and instruments. The benefits of laparoscopic surgery compared to open surgery are extensive; however,... Read more about Low-cost Laparoscopic Surgery with Tele-mentoring (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) »

Faces and computer hardware

Autonomous agents are beginning to interact with humans on a regular basis. Self-driving cars are appearing on local streets, and various types of drones are flying through skies over populated areas. These autonomous agents have promise to provide many services that will benefit society, but they... Read more about Moral Artificial Intelligence (2018-2019) »

Graphic from Vulci site by Bass Connections team

Smart technologies involve the use of collaborative and intelligent tools able to automate activities performed in the environment and in everyday objects. In archaeology, smart technologies include sensors, close range sensing systems, robots, rovers, drones, laser scanners and software able to... Read more about Smart Archaeology (2018-2019) »


Vaccinations administered during pregnancy and the first year of a child’s life are crucial for preventing a myriad of potentially deadly and debilitating infections. Despite overwhelming evidence on the benefits of vaccinations, pregnant women and parents of young children often refuse to accept,... Read more about Vaccine Misinformation and Its Link to Vaccine Hesitancy and Uptake in Durham (2018-2019) »

Information, Society & Culture Courses

Gateway Courses

ISS 110: Gateway - Information, Society & Culture

Fall 2018
Instructor: Patrick Herron

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 how those from social sciences and the humanities are transforming research. Read more about Gateway - Information, Society & Culture »

Other Undergraduate Courses

ARTHIST 231: History of Art Markets

Fall 2018
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 »

BIOLOGY 325: Current Technologies in Genomics and Precision Medicine

Fall 2018
Instructor: Greg Wray, Susanne Haga

The landmark sequencing of the human genome in 2003 heralded a new era in biomedical research. A key result has been the development of genomics-based tools to diagnose diseases, predict disease onset or recurrence, tailor treatment options and assess treatment response. However, translating these... Read more about Current Technologies in Genomics and Precision Medicine »

ENGLISH 390S-7-01: Remembering the Middle Passage

Spring 2019
Instructor: Charlotte Sussman

The Middle Passage, the route by which most enslaved persons were brought across the Atlantic to North America, is a crucial element of modern history. Yet it has been notoriously difficult to document or memorialize. Read more about Remembering the Middle Passage »

ISS 240L: Fundamentals of Web-based Multimedia Communications

Fall 2018
Instructor: Richard Lucic or Victoria Szabo

This course explores multimedia information systems, including presentation media, hypermedia, graphics, animation, sound, video and integrated authoring techniques as well as the underlying technologies that make them possible. Students will gain practice in the design innovation, programming and... Read more about Fundamentals of Web-based Multimedia Communications »

ISS 495S: Research Capstone

Spring 2019
Instructor: Victoria Szabo

This course is limited to ISS certificate students. 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 »

MATH 190: Democracy, Game Theory and Persuasion

Spring 2019
Instructor: Astrid Giugni, Hubert Bray

What is a fair election? What kinds of elections favor centrist, consensus building candidates, from a game theoretic point of view? What is the best way for a politician to persuade while still being truthful? Read more about Democracy, Game Theory and Persuasion »