Prevention of Sexual Misconduct on University Campuses: Intervention, Implementation and Evaluation (2019-2020)


Sexual misconduct is an ethical challenge in society in general, and in universities in particular. While many efforts have been made to confront this issue, including through educational programs and support for survivors, efforts to alleviate the problem do not seem to lead to desired outcomes.

This is not unique to university campuses. Research shows that sexual harassment trainings are often ineffective in decreasing sexual misconduct and can even lead to negative outcomes, such as negative attitudes and perceptions.

Universities indicate high participation rates in related educational programs; however, these institutions provide little evidence to show impact on actual behavior. Therefore, it appears that a different approach for the prevention of sexual misconduct is required. This issue poses a challenge to universities that aim to respond to this issue ethically and effectively.

Project Description

This Bass Connections project aims to devise and examine novel interventions meant to confront the issue of sexual misconduct on university campuses. These interventions are focused on translating the knowledge and values students possess into appropriate behavior that decreases incidents of sexual misconduct among Duke community members.

The 2019-2020 project team will scale up the behavioral and norm-changing interventions developed in the first year of the project. Team members will work with the relevant offices and student groups on campus to incorporate these interventions into existing efforts and prepare for a full implementation and evaluation beginning in the fall semester of the 2020-2021 academic year.

To achieve this goal, team members will use the initial results of small-scale studies conducted in Spring 2019 to assess, revise and/or propose new interventions. One possible line of research includes utilizing “nudges,” or information and cues that are given in ways that will help people make better decisions. This line of work has made substantial progress in increasing the likelihood that people will demonstrate desirable behaviors at the individual level, and on a broader societal level. Another promising direction is the shaping of social norms and changing them, particularly through using prominent members of the community.

Anticipated Outputs

Bundle of sexual misconduct interventions tailored for implementation at Duke; presentations at conferences; issue briefs; publications in scholarly journals and for public audiences


Summer 2019 – Spring 2020

  • Summer 2019 (Optional): Refine interventions to be deployed in Fall 2019; design baseline preassessment and evaluation program to accompany intervention implementation
  • Fall 2019: Begin team meetings; review literature and project work completed in 2018-2019; design follow-up studies; revise IRB approvals; conduct studies
  • Spring 2020: Analyze and present results; develop large-scale interventions and evaluation plan; write up results for submission to academic and nonacademic publications

This Team in the News

Opportunity to join Bass Connections’ Project Examining Sexual Misconduct on Campus

See earlier related team, Prevention of Sexual Misconduct on University Campuses (2018-2019).


Image by Geralt, CC0 Creative Commons

Image by Geralt.

Team Leaders

  • Moran Anisman Razin, Kenan Institute for Ethics
  • Suzanne Shanahan, Kenan Institute for Ethics|Arts & Sciences-Sociology
  • Sim Sitkin, Fuqua School of Business

/graduate Team Members

  • Anna Sturkey, Business Administration-MBA

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Carolyn Bell, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Nora Benmamoun
  • Sonali Mehta, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Mahima Varma, Psychology (AB), Sociology (AB2)
  • Alan Zhao, Biology (BS)