DegreeNeuroscience and Philosophy '15
[When I came to Duke from Italy] I was looking for opportunities to explore “the real world” from the Duke classroom. I made it a point in my education to go beyond the simple learning of “facts” in a vertical passing of knowledge that is so typical of European education, and put a lot of thoughtfulness (with great help from my advisors) into creating my own educational path enriched with practical application, research and career exploration. I have grown to believe that bridging the gap between advanced discoveries in biological sciences and collective issues in social sciences is a necessary step that fills research with meaning and scope. Bass Connections was thus a natural and perfect fit for my expectations: I have the opportunity to work under the mentorship of incredibly open-minded scholars and observe professionals from different disciplines working together on real world problems.
I believe that the most innovative and avant-garde aspect of the program is the bringing together of scholars from different disciplines and across educational boundaries. I first realized the power of this type of collaboration when three faculty members and the four students on the team sat together to discuss the significance of flashbacks in trauma survivors. The Freudian psychoanalyst, the psychiatrist/neuroscientist from the Veteran Affairs Hospital and the Romance Studies professor all had amazing insights into the philosophical, medical, psychological and neurobiological aspects of this unique kind of memory, and all presented cases of patients or populations they had experienced. I would have never learned this in class, and in no other context would I have had the occasion to observe so closely what it means to approach a problem from the point of view of a psychiatrist, a doctor or a humanities scholar. This kind of exposure is an invaluable educational experience, and it’s really beyond any expectation I had for my education when I came to the States.
The type of student drawn to Bass Connections is a very independent, creative and thoughtful one. The program has the unique feature of providing all the means by which students can create their own path, make of their education what they expect and reach the goals they set for themselves.
Bass Connections helped me develop an insight into my skills and interests that will be crucial in guiding my future choices. Through my involvement I realized the power of collaboration and the importance of problem-based work; these will be guiding criteria in choosing a doctoral program that matches my goals. When I look back to my undergraduate experience before Bass Connections, I realize how differently I think about my future: I am no longer seeking just an activity or research topic that suits my interests, but rather I look forward to a whole environment and research method that allows collaboration and teamwork on complex problems.