2020-2021: A Year of Creativity, Adaptability and Meaning

Message from Leadership

In a year of tremendous upheaval, Bass Connections empowered students to continue working collaboratively with small teams of faculty, fellow students and external partners to address important local and global challenges.

Through year-long project teams, affiliated summer programs and a growing number of collaborative, project-based courses, the 1,400 faculty, staff and students participating in Bass Connections this year showed enormous creativity and adaptability as they found new ways to connect with each other and external partners.

One team designed an immersive art exhibit to visualize sea level rise along the North Carolina coast. Another piloted a peer texting mental health resource for college students. Three others developed algorithms to map energy infrastructure, recommended policies to improve access to healthy food for all children in North Carolina, and devised strategies to reduce hypertension disparities in Durham.

Our pop-up COVID-19 theme, launched in partnership with the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, supported 13 new project teams and provided opportunities for 165 students and 34 faculty to work with partner organizations from Durham to Kenya.

We continue to be amazed by the range of creative outputs stemming from the research conducted by Bass Connections teams, as well as the ways in which the program contributes to student skill development and shapes students’ sense of purpose after Duke.

We remain ever grateful to the faculty and staff across Duke who lead Bass Connections teams and to our donors who have made the program possible. Our challenge now is to partner with schools and departments to embed collaborative projects more deeply into curricular structures across Duke.

Ed Balleisen and Laura Howes.
Edward J. Balleisen
Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies
Laura Howes
Director, Bass Connections
Quote: “My project team cemented my interest in science policy and led me to pursue it as a career path. Now, I’m an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow in Congress.” - Bass Connections alum
Quote: “My Bass Connections experiences were formative for my dissertation research and a highlight of my time in graduate school!” -Ph.D. student