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, post-doctoral 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.

Learn more at our Bass Connections in Brain & Society website.

Educational Pathways

Bass Connections in Brain & Society offers to students at all levels:

  • Scholarship driven by current issues facing society
  • Synergistic research with students and faculty from diverse disciplines
  • Summer research experience
  • Independent study opportunities during spring and/or fall semesters
  • The opportunity to select a project to work on with Duke faculty

Students will also participate in shared curricular and co-curricular activities that facilitate scholarship in the chosen area. 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.

Undergraduates may also be interested in the Duke Neurohumanities in Paris summer program (next offered in 2018; see photos from 2016).


In addition to project teams, Bass Connections in Brain & Society offers two semester-long interdisciplinary courses that explore the intersection of neuroscience with sex and gender (Fall) and music (Spring).


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

Student Stories

Check out students’ experiences in Brain & Society.

Theme Leaders

Bass Connections in Brain & Society is led by 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
11 project teams in 2016-17
2 interdisciplinary courses


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