Through interdisciplinary education, Duke is fostering new ways to transmit knowledge. Duke offers a rich array of academic programs that cross traditional boundaries and build on its strength as an interdisciplinary research university. These opportunities range from specialized programs and mentored research to hands-on community-based learning and international study.
Students pursue scholarship tailored to their interests in interdisciplinary areas such as global health inequalities, the social consequences of genetic differences, the demography of aging and fertility, neuropsychiatric disorders and the protection of the earth’s resources.
Faced with a wealth of opportunities, undergraduates can benefit from the guidance of Duke’s Directors of Academic Engagement. These specialized advisors work with students to clarify goals and connect them to opportunities for academic exploration within and beyond the traditional classroom. Graduate students can access a number of resources to guide their pathways, and the professional schools each offer tailored services to professional students. Maria LaMonaca Wisdom, Director of Interdisciplinary Advising and Engagement, offers advising and coaching.
Through its facilitation of collaborative, problem-centered, interdisciplinary inquiry, the Bass Connections program serves as a cornerstone of Duke’s efforts to integrate research, education, and outreach. Faculty across Duke’s schools engage in Bass Connections at every level, from providing vital program guidance on the Faculty Advisory Council, to developing and leading project teams, engaging as course instructors, and mentoring students as they take their research further
Graduate students can propose project team ideas in conjunction with faculty; they also serve as crucial mentors on both year-long and summer teams. Undergraduates can take part in research teams with faculty and graduate students.
Academic Programs Run by the University-Wide Institutes and Initiatives
Five of Duke’s institutes and initiatives manage the thematic areas of Bass Connections and run project teams, courses, and summer programs. Several units provide co-curricular programs for doctoral students, which enable those individuals to engage with peers from other schools and departments and undertake research projects with faculty outside their degree programs. The Franklin Humanities Institute runs a series of Humanities Labs; the Duke Global Health Institute and the Energy Initiative run doctoral scholars programs; and the Kenan Institute for Ethics hosts the Religions and Public Life graduate student working group.
The institutes and initiatives also administer the following academic programs that draw upon faculty from multiple schools, and several furnish additional opportunities for graduate students.
I was interested in having students [from different programs] become involved in some aspect of my current research project. I wanted to see what other kinds of inquiries into the problem I was studying could be had. It’s been a really productive challenge. —Faculty member
One of the major reasons I chose to do my graduate work at Duke was because of the university’s support for interdisciplinary work. —Graduate student
I was looking for schools with programs that would target different parts of my brain. Working with grad students from different fields [in our Bass Connections project] has given me a lot of insight into what I want to do. I’m loving the team-oriented approach. —Undergraduate student