Brain & Society

Brain & SocietyMany of the core problems of our time – climate change, financial crises, addiction, social inequality – arise from individuals and their choices. Brain research on cognition, emotions, expression and decision-making will be translated in this theme to address collective challenges and increase understanding of what makes us human.

Bass Connections in Brain & Society engages undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty from different programs and majors in an immersive curriculum that combines research and coursework into a common program of scholarship in multidisciplinary project teams.

Curricular and project elements build connections between basic research in neuroscience (and related biological sciences) and socially challenging questions in medicine, the humanities, public policy, economics, ethics and law, to understand issues such as physical and social responses to transformative events; the workings of the brain in rhetoric and the arts; memory in legal testimony; and the role of decision processes in shaping our institutions and public policies. Each Brain & Society team tackles a current issue relating to the brain and its link to society as a whole.

Students are encouraged to create a coherent course of study that combines classes, independent or directed research and co-/extra-curricular activities. Research experience is the core of the program.

Project Teams

Brain & SocietyInformation, Society & Culture
Brain & SocietyEducation & Human Development

Educational Pathways


In addition to project teams, Bass Connections in Brain & Society offers semester-long interdisciplinary courses.

Summer Programs

Most Brain & Society project teams begin with a summer component on campus. In addition, the eight-week Summer Neuroscience Program enables undergraduates to jumpstart their Neuroscience Graduation with Distinction senior theses by working one-on-one with faculty mentors.

Major and Minor

The Duke Institute for Brain Sciences runs the Neuroscience undergraduate major and minor.


Receive individualized guidance on how to incorporate Bass Connections into your Duke experience.

Student Stories

Check out students’ experiences in Brain & Society.

Theme Leadership

The Duke Institute for Brain Sciences runs the Bass Connections in Brain & Society theme. Theme leaders are Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and Leonard White, Associate Professor, Departments of Neurobiology and Community and Family Medicine, Physical Therapy Division, and Director, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences Education.

At a Glance

Using brain science to help solve society’s most pressing problems
14 project teams in 2018-19
6 interdisciplinary courses


Jan 22

Come talk with faculty team leaders and staff to learn more about the Bass Connections projects that will start next summer or fall.

Apr 17

Come learn more about Bass Connections and find out what the 2018-19 research teams of faculty, graduate students, undergraduates and community partners have accomplished. Join us for lightning talks, a poster session and a reception.