Duke Experts Coauthor New Guide on Boosting Universities’ Impact ‘Beyond the Academy’

International group of scholars outlines best practices for creating a more ‘engaged university’

Group of adults standing together on steps.
Scholars from the Beyond the Academy network attended a two-day workshop at Duke University in September 2019.

Faculty and students are increasingly looking for ways to directly engage with the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges, including climate change, the ongoing effects of a global pandemic and racial injustice. In a newly published book, an international group of scholars—including some from Duke University—offers a “vision and a roadmap to a more impactful future” for higher education.

Cover of book, Guidebook for the Engaged University.The Guidebook for the Engaged University highlights best practices to encourage scholarship that goes beyond the traditional university model to make a real-world impact. The guidebook organizes those practices around three main themes:

  • Reforming academic incentive structures;
  • Encouraging public engagement and co-production; and
  • Preparing students to be sustainability leaders.

“With their diverse knowledge, skills and networks, colleges and universities can and should be front and center in helping to address societal challenges,” said guidebook contributor Lydia Olander, director of the Ecosystem Services Program at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability. “In practice, they’re too often disengaged or a step removed from the on-the-ground partnerships needed to work with communities, policy makers and corporations to solve these problems. The guidebook reimagines what an ‘engaged university’ could look like, shifting academic priorities to maximize impact.”

The guidebook was written and published by Beyond the Academy, a network of hundreds of sustainability researchers from universities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Formed in 2018 with funding from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative, Beyond the Academy is focused on making universities more supportive of applied interdisciplinary research.

Over the last three years, the network has hosted workshops, conducted literature reviews and collected case studies to identify innovative ideas for how universities can reform their systems and structures to promote action-oriented research. The discussions placed an emphasis on producing graduates prepared to make an immediate difference.

“Graduate students want curricula and research opportunities that provide an opportunity to have a practical effect on issues that touch all our lives,” said Edgar Virgüez, a 2022 Duke Ph.D. graduate who participated in the guidebook process and recently wrote about his perspective as an early-career scholar. “Working with Beyond the Academy showed the breadth of opportunities that forward-thinking universities, such as Duke, are already providing.”

The guidebook provides numerous examples from Duke and other institutions to show how universities can adapt their approaches.

A section on engagement leadership spotlights Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, now known as the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability. Since 2005, the institute has acted as a bridge between Duke scholarship and the policy-making world. It delivers timely, nonpartisan analyses to decision makers and convenes key stakeholders to help address environmental challenges.

Bass Connections is another Duke program recognized in the guidebook for a structure and culture that supports engaged scholarship. Bass Connections brings together interdisciplinary teams of students and faculty to co-investigate complex societal problems.

The guidebook also cites DukeEngage as an example of a program that trains students interested in more engaged scholarship. During this immersive summer experience, students and faculty collaborate with communities—both locally and globally—to address critical social issues.

“Vibrant community partnerships require much more of researchers than just looking for a field site; you have to build relationships, which doesn’t easily map onto the incentive structure embedded in many universities,” said Edward Balleisen, Duke University vice provost for interdisciplinary studies. “The guidebook offers a set of practical tools that institutions can use to facilitate this highly collaborative work and credit scholars in their individual career trajectories. As the many examples in the guidebook illustrate, Duke has—and will continue to be—a leader in this crucial mode of equitable, applied, interdisciplinary research.”

The guidebook’s publication coincides with the announcement of the Duke Climate Commitment, which unites the university’s education, research, operations and public service missions to address the climate crisis. The commitment—to be formally introduced on Sept. 29—builds on Duke’s longstanding leadership in climate, energy and sustainability to educate a new generation of climate-fluent innovators and create equitable solutions for all.

Read the Guidebook for the Engaged University.

Originally posted on the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability website

Propose a Bass Connections Project Team for 2023-24

Now accepting proposals for 2023-2024 project teams.

Deadline: November 7, 2022

Bass Connections brings together faculty, postdocs, graduate students, undergraduates and community partners to tackle complex societal challenges in interdisciplinary research teams. This request for proposals is for year-long project teams that will take place in 2023-2024, with the option to pair a proposal with a summer Data+/Climate+ or Story+ team for Summer 2023. Funding for year-long project teams is between $5,000 and $25,000.

For some faculty, Bass Connections provides a mechanism to pilot a new research initiative and lay the groundwork for external grant proposals. For others, Bass Connections offers an innovative teaching model and the chance to mentor students in a small group atmosphere. Bass Connections also provides a model for initiating or deepening engagement with a community organization or collaborators outside of Duke who can provide input into the construction of research questions and translate research findings into action.

For more information about benefits for faculty, see faculty perspectives or the faculty evaluation report.

Proposals may be submitted by faculty, staff, graduate/professional students, postdocs and trainees/fellows, but all projects must have at least one faculty team leader. Please see the complete proposal guidelines.

Questions?

Interested faculty, particularly those who have never led a Bass Connections team, are also encouraged to contact a Bass Connections theme leader or Laura Howes, director of Bass Connections, at laura.howes@duke.edu with questions or to discuss potential ideas. Or drop in at any time to one of our informal Zoom office hours (https://duke.zoom.us/j/99393877201):

  • Friday, September 9, 10:00-11:00
  • Friday, September 30, 9:00-10:00
  • Friday, October 14, 1:00-2:00
  • Friday, October 21, 11:00-12:00

The deadline for proposals is Monday, November 7, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.

Bass Connections Offers Student Funding for Collaborative or Individual Projects

Student researchers.
Previous recipients working on their funded research projects in the lab, at a clinic in Honduras, and in a forest in Gabon

Deadline: March 5, 2022

Bass Connections creates opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to work alongside faculty to explore societal challenges through interdisciplinary research teams. The Bass Connections Student Research Award provides funds of up to $3,000 (for one to two students) or $5,000 (for groups of more than two students) to support student-directed research projects that meet one of the following parameters:

  1. Undergraduate and graduate students who have completed (or are completing) a Bass Connections year-long project team or summer program may propose to continue some aspect of the team’s work through a faculty-mentored research experience. Such research experiences may be either individual or collaborative although collaborative projects are preferred.
  1. Students who have participated in Bass Connections may also propose a research project that is not related to their Bass Connections experience so long as the proposed project is collaborative (i.e., involving at least two students) and interdisciplinary in nature.
  1. Undergraduate and graduate students who have not yet participated in Bass Connections may also apply so long as the proposed project is collaborative (i.e., involving at least two students) and interdisciplinary in nature.

Teams that include at least one Trinity undergraduate student might consider applying for the Student Team Grants opportunity, which is also accepting applications for 2022-2023 through March 5, 2022.

Other Eligibility Criteria

  • All projects must have a faculty mentor.
  • Projects must involve research.
  • Projects must occur within the next year (from May 2022 to May 2023).
  • Students must be active students during the time of the proposed research (i.e., graduating students are not eligible).
  • Students who have previously received a Bass Connections research award may not apply again.

A note about COVID-19 restrictions:

While we aspire to support applied, student-driven research projects, the health and safety of students and the community are our top priority. All projects, if selected, will be expected to follow all applicable university policies.

For Summer 2022, we anticipate that students will be able to conduct on-campus research and live in on- or off-campus housing. Students may propose projects involving domestic or international travel, but all travel plans will be subject to change in accordance with the Duke Global Travel Policy, as it applies at the time of travel.

When submitting a proposal, you should carefully consider whether the proposed research will be feasible under the current circumstances, and address in the proposal how you might adapt your research plan if aspects of the project are not feasible due to COVID-19 restrictions. If the proposed research involves in-person contact or fieldwork, the proposal should address how the team will adhere to COVID-19 protocols.

Proposal Criteria

Proposals should be no longer than five pages and should be submitted as a single document using this online form. The online form will also request some basic background information on the composition of your team. Proposals are due Saturday, March 5, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. ET and should include:

  • Project title (no more than 75 characters)
  • Abstract: Provide a brief summary of the project and the issue it will address (1-2 paragraphs, no more than 200 words).
  • Research plan: A brief narrative that articulates: 1) the goals of the research; and 2) a plan of how the research will be conducted, including a timeline for key activities.
  • Connection to Bass Connections: If this research follows directly from a Bass Connections team experience, please articulate this connection. For projects that are not connected to a Bass Connections team experience, please explain how the proposed project aligns with the Bass Connections model (team-based, interdisciplinary research around societal challenges), and the origins of the proposed work (e.g., inspired by an experience in a particular course, DukeEngage, Study Away, Duke Immerse, a humanities lab, an extra-curricular experience).
  • Team composition: List all students who will be involved in the research and any external partners.
  • Student development: For each student involved, explain how this project fits within their overall academic and professional plan.
  • COVID-19 contingencies: Please address any risks to your project plan based on evolving COVID-19 restrictions and how you might adapt the project as needed. If you are proposing research involving contact outside of the Duke community, please address how you will ensure that university COVID-19 protocols are followed.
  • Budget: Submit a budget plan (up to $3,000 total for projects involving one to two students or up to $5,000 total for projects involving more than two students) and timeline for the use of funds. Please list all other sources and amounts of support for the research project, both confirmed and anticipated/applied for (if applicable).

The following expenses are not allowable:

  • Students may not pay themselves for time spent conducting this research. This award is intended to cover material costs to enable you to accomplish your research goals.
  • Funds may not be used to purchase specific equipment costing more than $1,000 (e.g., computers, cameras).
  • Funds may not be used to cover personal living expenses at a permanent residence. Funds may only be used to cover temporary living expenses to conduct field research (which can include Durham during the summer only).

Allowable expenses might include: transcription services, local ground transportation, attendance at a conference to present your research (although note that this should not be the entirety of your proposal), travel expenses for field research (when COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted), minor equipment such as recording devices for interviews, lab tests and materials, minor software not already offered by Duke, minor payments to research participants, subscriptions to surveying/data management tools, printing/publication expenses and books/training to support your research.

Please note that neither of these lists are all-inclusive, but rather are intended to help you consider common, allowable expenses.

  • Faculty letter of support: Please attach a letter of support in the online form or ask your faculty mentor to email a letter of support to laura.howes@duke.edu. This letter should articulate the faculty mentor’s willingness to supervise the project; why they feel the research is worthwhile; and any other relevant information about their connection to the proposer(s).

Resources

We strongly encourage prospective applicants to attend our Foundational Research Module series for additional grounding in common research practices. In particular, if your project involves human subjects, you should make every effort to attend one of the two Institutional Review Board modules on February 25 or April 8. This module will satisfy the Human Subjects Certification requirement, allowing you to proceed with setting up an IRB protocol.

Review and Selection

We anticipate awarding funds to at least seven projects, with a preference for collaborative projects. Proposals will be reviewed by the Bass Connections Faculty Advisory Council and Bass Connections leadership. Decisions will be announced by March 31, 2022, and funds will be awarded as appropriate to the timing of the project.

As a condition of funding, awardees will be required to provide a 400-600 word reflection on their research experience, with photos, by no later than April 30, 2023. The Bass Connections program team may also check in with awardees during the year to request a short update.

Contact

Laura Howes, Director, Bass Connections; (919) 684-9021

Student Team Grants Available for Research Projects Starting This Summer

Deadline: March 5, 2022

Are you and a group of fellow students excited about testing a new idea or exploring a compelling research question? Do you want to extend work that you started through a course, extra-curricular activity, or Bass Connections, DukeEngage, Data+ or Story+ project?

Bass Connections and the Undergraduate Research Support Office are pleased to introduce a new research grant available for students involved in collaborative team-based research projects. This research award will provide funds of up to $5,000 to support collaborative research projects involving two or more students. Calls for proposals will be issued in January of each year and funds will be awarded for a period of one year. Five to eight awards will be issued each year.

Projects can address a broad range of research topics and result in an array of research outputs, from traditional theses, research papers and conference presentations to prototypes, exhibits, websites and media campaigns, data sets and apps, performances, and more!

We are now accepting proposals for 2022-2023. All proposals must be submitted through the online proposal form by March 5, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. You may work directly within the online form and save and return to the form as you work. You may also preview the proposal questions and draft your responses using the following Word template.

Eligibility criteria
  • Research projects must be conceived of and directed by students.
  • Projects must have a faculty mentor.
  • Projects must occur within the next year (from May 2022 to May 2023).
  • Students must be active students during the time of the proposed research (i.e., graduating students are not eligible).
  • Project teams must include at least one Trinity undergraduate student; Pratt undergraduate students and/or graduate students from any Duke School are also eligible to apply as long as their team includes at least one Trinity undergrad.*
  • Projects may be focused on any topic within, or across disciplines, with a preference for interdisciplinary projects.

*If you are seeking funding for a project that does not include a Trinity undergraduate student, consider applying for the Bass Connections Student Research Award.

A note about COVID-19:

While we aspire to support applied, student-driven research projects, the health and safety of students and the community are our top priority. All projects, if selected, will be expected to follow all applicable university policies.

For Summer 2022, we anticipate that students will be able to conduct on-campus research and live in on- or off-campus housing. Students may propose projects involving domestic or international travel, but all travel plans will be subject to change in accordance with the Duke Global Travel Policy, as it applies at the time of travel.

When submitting a proposal, you should carefully consider whether the proposed research will be feasible under the current circumstances, and address in the proposal how you might adapt your research plan if aspects of the project are not feasible due to COVID-19 restrictions. If the proposed research involves in-person contact or fieldwork, the proposal should address how the team will adhere to COVID-19 protocols.

Proposal requirements

All proposals must be submitted through the online proposal form by March 5, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. You may work directly within the online form and save and return to the form as you work. You may also preview the proposal questions and draft your responses using the following Word template. For planning purposes, key proposal elements include:

  • Details about the team composition
  • A description of the project including an abstract, a research plan, information about how the team will operate and how the project will contribute to the development of student team members, a timeline, and information about how the team will adapt as needed to emerging COVID-19 circumstances
  • Project details including whether the project includes research with animals or human subjects, and a risk management plan for any projects involving fieldwork
  • Budget (see additional guidance below)
  • Letter of recommendation from a faculty mentor: Your faculty mentor should submit their letter of recommendation directly by email to laura.howes@duke.edu by March 5, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. Your mentor’s letter should address the scholarly value of your research project, their assessment of your preparedness for completing the project, and how they intend to support you (including how often the mentor and students will meet, how the mentor will provide guidance, oversight, and assistance).
Budget limitations

When submitting a proposal, you will be asked to submit a detailed budget plan for the entire proposed project, noting other sources of funding that you have secured or applied for. Maximum funding for this award is $5,000.

For planning purposes, please note the following limitations, which may be subject to change.

Reasonable expenses include:

  • Fees associated with use of archives, lab equipment, etc.
  • Software licenses
  • Research participant incentives
  • Research supplies and materials
  • Transcription services
  • Books/training to support your research
  • Travel for field research that cannot be conducted remotely (dependent upon COVID-19 travel restrictions)
  • Summer housing expenses to allow students to conduct research in instances when students need to be on-site

Funds may not be used:

  • As stipend or salary
  • To purchase personal equipment or durable items costing more than $1,000 (cameras, computers, clothing, etc.)
  • To cover personal living expenses at a permanent residence (funds may only be used to cover temporary living expenses to conduct field research, which can include Durham during the summer only)
  • To cover personal taxes

Please note that neither of these lists are all-inclusive, but rather are intended to help you consider common, allowable expenses.

Funds will generally be administered via a Duke “fund code.” To process expenditures, students will need to work with their faculty advisor to use a departmental purchase card, or file for reimbursement. Some expenses (such as housing) will be issued as a non-compensatory payment to students and will be considered taxable income.

Resources

We strongly encourage prospective applicants to attend the Bass Connections Foundational Research Module series for additional grounding in common research practices. In particular, if your project involves human subjects, you should make every effort to attend one of the two Institutional Review Board modules on February 25 or April 8. This module will satisfy the Human Subjects Certification requirement, allowing you to proceed with setting up an IRB protocol.

Contact

For questions or more information about the Student Team Grants program, please contact laura.howes@duke.edu.

These research awards are supported by the Eberts Family Fund, and are administered by the Undergraduate Research Support Office in partnership with Bass Connections.

Also see the Bass Connections Student Research Awards for another opportunity.

Duke Students Design Solutions to Help Communities Flourish

Graphic: Drawing of people collaborating, using open design principles.

By Katherine Zheng ’23

When we tackle complex challenges — such as making education more equitable despite limited resources, or making healthcare more accessible to differently abled people — how can we effectively include human stakeholders in the research and development processes?

A Bass Connections team has been exploring equity-centered approaches to specific challenges in education, health, entrepreneurship and innovation. Student team members presented their work to date at a recent event held by Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E), Duke Pediatrics, Bass Connections and the Divinity School.

Open Design Process

The team utilized open design, which involves four phases: understand, create, evaluate and share. Team leader Aria Chernik explained it as an “equity-centered innovation methodology that is derived from design thinking, putting equity at the center in how we create it and who is with us creating it.” Chernik is associate professor of the practice in the Social Science Research Institute.

The projects all had different areas of focus, but all led with the goal of determining “how communities flourish and how people have an equitable opportunity to flourish,” said team leader Kevin Hoch, I&E managing director for education.

Each group asked a “what if” question, designed three creative possible solutions, and presented stakeholders with concept posters and a prototype.

Projects and Ideas

Pediatric Health

This group focused on healthcare accessibility for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) such as autism and Down syndrome. “Physicians and pediatricians need more of a shared understanding with those with IDD,” said junior Hannah Zelinger, adding that other guiding principles included a more positive environment and empowerment of youth with IDD to gain as much independence as possible.

Graphic: What are the needs, desires and hopes of the community?

Public policy master’s student Cameron Love joined Zelinger to give a presentation on the group’s main idea: a community open house where youth with IDD can be directed to community services or medical help as needed. This would ensure a more direct way for youth to receive help beyond the complex healthcare system, which can deter patients from receiving proper help today.

Necessity-Driven Entrepreneurship

Sophomores Jun Woo Kang and Wendy Shi presented their group’s work with a nonprofit called Helius to research necessity-driven entrepreneurship. Helius provides training and coaching for small businesses and necessity-driven entrepreneurs. The group focused on strengthening the overall Helius community and increasing connections to funders.

Graphic: Portal to Success, Helius Passport, Scale-Up Event.

The group’s idea, Portal to Success, is a website that would be a connection portal to allow current cohort members to get in touch with past members. In addition, consolidated lessons from Helius would be available on the site.

Community-Based Innovation

Presented by junior Kara Wall, this group researched the question, “How might we create a program that fosters relationships and reflects community needs while promoting equitable and holistic education?” They worked with the Oak Grove AME Zion Church, Campbell University and Harnett County Schools to investigate equitable education opportunities.

Graphic: Means for greater community transformation.

Solution ideas included an immersive two-week summer literacy program that fostered personal development, a month-long equitable after-school pilot, and a summer-long program fostering students’ well-being through a holistic and equitable literacy and STEM curriculum. The group decided to focus on the summer-long option, which prioritizes life skills and personal development.

Education

This group explored how to use computer science (CS) education to improve human flourishing. Teachers need an easy-to-implement CS curriculum, educators need to ensure equity in the curriculum, and students need a way to connect with the subject material, explained presenters Ritvik Janamsetty, a sophomore, and Krista Pipho, a Ph.D. student in genetics and genomics.

Screenshot of TeachTech website prototype.

Their solution was standards mapping, which is a way for educators to fulfill CS standards at the same time as standards for English language arts. A prototype website called TeachTechNC maps the standards and allows school administrators to check off which standards the CS curriculum meets.

Time for Implementation

Each interdisciplinary team educated the audience on how we can effectively use the open design method to take on tricky issues with community partners. “It’s clear that the Human Flourishing Project’s participants are motivated and energized by the challenge of working on real-world problems,” said Pipho, who is also a member of the Bass Connections Student Advisory Council. “I’m excited to see the proposed solutions enter the implementation phase this semester.”

Throughout the spring, the team members will be building out prototypes, testing them and iterating with community co-designers.

How to Get Involved

Through February 11, Duke students of all levels can apply for the 2022-2023 Bass Connections team, Open Design Studio: Participatory Solutions for Human Flourishing. Virtual info sessions will be held on January 21 and 25.

Katherine Zheng is a junior at Duke University studying economics and public policy. She works as a student assistant in the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Democracy and Governance in a Polarized World: Call for Proposals

Text: Democracy and Governance in a Polarized World.

Deadline: March 31, 2022

Bass Connections is now accepting proposals for new year-long projects addressing issues related to democracy and the challenges of sustaining strong democratic institutions in a polarized world. Faculty interested in proposing a project should read the full submission guidelines and submit a proposal by Thursday, March 31 at 5:00 p.m.

Proposed projects may begin in Summer or Fall 2022. Funding for project teams is between $5,000 and $25,000.

Please note: This RFP is only for 2022-2023 projects related to democracy. Our next general call for Bass Connections project proposals will be in August 2022.

Background

Bass Connections brings together faculty, postdocs, graduate students, undergraduates and community partners to tackle complex societal challenges in interdisciplinary research teams. The five interdisciplinary themes of Bass Connections support research related to persistent societal challenges such as health inequities, race and social justice, environmental sustainability, the intersection of technology and society and the brain’s role in making us human.

As broad as these themes are, they are not all-encompassing, and we recognize the need to respond nimbly to new challenges confronting society. As a result, since 2018, Bass Connections has launched three “pop-up themes,” the first focused on hurricane recovery and resilience; the second on research related to immigration; and the third on issues related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemicThis call is for project proposals related to a new pop-up theme around research related to democracy and governance in a polarized world.

Recent Threats to Democracy

By many measures – including freedom of the press, free and fair elections, and government transparency – democracy is declining in much of the world. Indeed, the nonprofit Freedom House’s 2021 report concludes that nearly 75 percent of the world’s population lived in a country that faced deteriorating conditions for democracy last year. Here in the U.S., 2021 began with an insurrection on the Capitol, to be followed by many states passing new laws restricting voting access and reconfiguring election oversight. A CNN poll from September 2021 found that 93% of Americans say that democracy is either under attack (56%) or being tested (37%). A November 2021 NPR poll found that just 62% of Americans say they will trust the 2024 election, regardless of who wins.

Bass Connections issues this special call for proposals for teams interested in tackling solutions aimed at strengthening democracy, at home or abroad, through a Bass Connections project in 2022-2023. Research questions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Why is democracy worth defending? Where has democracy proven effective, and in what contexts has it failed? What reforms might help democratic institutions live up to their ideals?
  • What has contributed to the increase in authoritarianism worldwide? What are the historical roots of these contemporary challenges, and how might the past offer critical perspective and lessons for the future of democratic ideals, institutions and practices?
  • How important are the concepts of the rule of law and the existence of an independent judiciary to democracy? How have societies effectively negotiated the trade-offs between democratic decision-making and the protection of individual and minority rights?
  • How have other emerging issues, including climate change, rising inequality and inflation, and the COVID-19 pandemic, impacted democracy in the U.S. and internationally? What interventions might seek to strengthen democratic resiliency in the face of social crises and economic inequality?
  • Access to strong local media has been linked to political engagement and increased transparency. What new models might shore up and/or invigorate local media and journalism?
  • How are the arts and humanities inspiring new conversations about democracy and polarization? How do the arts push us to think differently about democracy or inspire new and innovative forms of political organization?
  • How should technology platforms be governed to ensure accountability and promote democracy?
  • How might we restore trust in the media and voting systems, reinvigorate popular engagement in civic life, and/or fashion new institutions for popular participation in democratic processes?
  • What solutions might bridge growing levels of political polarization, or what policy changes might allow government to operate more effectively in a continuing polarized environment?

In partnership with the Digital Humanities Initiative at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, we also strongly encourage projects with a substantial digital or computational humanities dimension.

Submission Instructions

The deadline for proposals is Thursday, March 31, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.

Please read the full submission guidelines and use the online proposal form to submit your proposal. You may work directly within the online form and save and return to the form as you work. You may also preview the proposal questions and draft your responses using the following Word template.

Interested faculty, particularly those who have never led a Bass Connections team, are also encouraged to contact a Bass Connections theme leader or Laura Howes, Director of Bass Connections, at laura.howes@duke.edu with questions or to discuss potential ideas. Faculty may also drop in at any time to one of our informal Zoom office hours (https://duke.zoom.us/j/6666010362):

  • Friday, February 11, 10:00-11:00
  • Thursday, March 17, 12:00-1:00

Faculty are also welcome to reach out to members of the Bass Connections Faculty Advisory Council to discuss project ideas or possible collaborators within their school.

Learn More

50+ Bass Connections Research Opportunities for Duke Students of All Levels

Bass Connections project team members.

Deadline: February 11, 2022

Duke students and trainees/fellows from all levels and schools are invited to check out the new Bass Connections project teams for 2022-2023.

The deadline for applications is February 11 at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Bass Connections project teams bring together faculty, postdocs, graduate students and undergraduates to tackle complex societal challenges in interdisciplinary research teams. Most project teams collaborate with partners outside Duke, including companies, nonprofits, universities, school systems, hospitals and government agencies. Many team members take their research further through grants, theses and other opportunities at Duke and beyond.

Project teams last for two semesters, and some include a summer component. Academic credit and summer funding are available. Students can apply to up to three project teams.

Browse the 2022-2023 Project Teams by Theme

Each project team page contains a detailed project description, anticipated outputs, student opportunities, timelines and a list of team leaders.

Student can also browse the full list of project teams, which can be filtered by theme, area of focus and special opportunities.

Register for a Virtual Information Session

Students from all levels and schools can learn more about project team participation by registering for a virtual information session on Friday, January 21 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. or Tuesday, January 25 from 3:00-4:00 p.m..

Please register to receive the Zoom link.

Each session will feature a short presentation about the program as well as a panel of Bass Connections student team members, who will share details about their project team experiences. Session attendees will be able to ask questions live or in the group chat.

Topics covered will include:

  • What is Bass Connections? What are year-long project teams?
  • How do students find out more information about particular 2022-2023 project teams?
  • Who is eligible to participate?
  • What is the application process and timeline?
  • What is it like to be on a project team and what are the benefits of participation?
  • What should students consider before applying?

Many project teams will also be hosting their own Zoom information session and/or providing a brief video overview of their team during the weeks of January 24 and January 31. Please check our website for more information on January 24 or sign up for our newsletter.

Before You Apply

Take some time to learn how project teams work, review FAQs, explore the benefits of participation and browse stories from students about their Bass Connections experiences.

Students can also check out our Spring 2022 Foundational Research Modules – short virtual modules by experts across campus that are designed to provide students of all levels with foundational knowledge in research practices.

The deadline for applications is February 11 at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Create Your Own Path

Need some help planning your Bass Connections pathway? Undergraduates can seek guidance from Duke’s Directors of Academic Engagement, who offer individualized, hour-long advising appointments to guide students through the process of integrating Bass Connections into their academic plans.

Graduate students can access a number of resources to guide their pathways, and the professional schools offer tailored advising services to their students. Ph.D. students in the humanities can consult with Duke’s Director of Graduate Student Advising and Engagement in the Humanities.

Learn More

Join a Cohort of Faculty Fellows to Design Collaborative Project Courses

Logos of Duke Learning Innovation and Bass Connections.

Deadline: February 14, 2022

The Collaborative Project Courses Faculty Fellows Program provides support and a peer learning community for faculty who are interested in designing Collaborative Project Courses – courses in which student learning is driven by collaborative engagement with applied projects that extend across an entire semester. Participating faculty will receive $5,000; support and guidance from pedagogy experts and faculty experienced in this form of teaching; the option to request funding for a doctoral student to support the course design; and the opportunity to collaborate on course (re)design with a group of peers from across campus. This program is a partnership between Duke Learning Innovation and Bass Connections.

  • Application deadline: February 14, 2022, at 5 p.m. (note: the original deadline of January 31 was extended to allow faculty more time to apply given the move to remote learning in early January)
  • Applicants notified: Late February 2022 
  • Program dates: May 2022 – December 2022

To learn more about this opportunity or discuss your course ideas, visit our drop-in office hours on December 15 from 11:00-12:00: https://duke.zoom.us/j/97463590331.

What are Collaborative Project Courses?

Collaborative Project Courses are courses in which student learning is driven by collaborative research, analysis and communication on applied projects that extend across an entire semester. Such courses often bridge the classroom and the world beyond the university, giving students a chance to bring their academic knowledge and skills to bear on complex problems under the mentorship of faculty, graduate students and, in some cases, community members.

Collaborative Project Courses help students grasp the relevance of their work while also demanding rigorous study and original research, often alongside engagement with a community of practice. When done well, this approach creates a dynamic learning environment and inspires students to take greater ownership of the learning process. For a more in-depth summary of Collaborative Project Courses, and the unique pedagogical questions they pose, visit our Collaborative Project Courses: Course Design Resource Center.

About the Faculty Fellows Program

Collaborative Project Courses often raise new challenges for faculty – challenges related to course design, the framing of projects, the provision of guidance to teams and the management of group dynamics. The Faculty Fellows program establishes a cohort of faculty who will learn and work together, with support and advising from Duke Learning Innovation, to develop Collaborative Project Courses for Fall 2022 or Spring 2023. Please note that based on the program timeline, this opportunity is likely to work best for faculty planning to teach their course in Spring 2023; however, we will work with faculty on an accelerated timeline if they wish to teach their course in Fall 2022.

Participants in the program will reimagine an existing course, or design a new course, to include project-based pedagogies in which students work together to create new knowledge, tangible works and/or creative or artistic products. Courses can be designed at any level (undergraduate; undergraduate/graduate; or graduate/professional).

The Faculty Fellows program includes regular meetings for the first four months, followed by eight months of periodic engagement to support faculty as they implement their new course (see full description of the time commitment below). We aim to create an active and engaged learning community where faculty will provide one another with support and advice throughout the program, creating new faculty networks along the way. We will also invite faculty with experience using this teaching model to share their experiences with the cohort and provide advice to participants at different stages of the program.

Recognizing the time that it takes to design project-based courses, Faculty Fellows will receive $5,000 to be used at the faculty member’s discretion (e.g., for summer salary to design the course, funding to pay a doctoral student for assistance in course design, discretionary research funds, funds to support course activities or a TA, travel funding to explore best practice models or seek professional development).

Faculty may also request supplemental funding of $1,500 to cover 75 hours of a doctoral student’s time to support elements of the course design through the Bass Connections Collaborative Project Expeditions program. This is an optional element of the program. Faculty Fellows would be responsible for identifying/recruiting a graduate student to work with them. Bass Connections can also help faculty recruit a graduate student partner but cannot guarantee that we will be able to identify a suitable candidate.

Topics covered through the fellowship will include:

  • Choosing and scoping projects
  • Writing achievable learning objectives and designing a syllabus
  • Structuring in- and out-of-class time effectively
  • Identifying and working with partners/clients for projects
  • Designing course/project milestones and deliverables
  • Creating and managing student teams
  • Mentoring students to be effective team members
  • Using journaling/reflection to support student learning
  • Assessing student work
  • Preparing for team teaching, if applicable
  • Other topics identified by fellowship participants

Program Details

Fellowship time commitment

The fellowship will require participation in:

  • A three-day intensive kick-off on May 2-4 from 10:00-2:00 (including an optional cohort dinner tentatively planned for May 2) (in-person)
  • Four, one-hour virtual meetings throughout the summer (May 18, June 15, July 13, August 3 at 10 a.m. ET)
  • In-person meeting on August 17 from 10:00-2:00
  • In-person meeting on December 12 from 10:00-2:00

In addition to cohort meetings, Fellows will participate in hands-on activities in Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 including:

  • Draft a course syllabus (Summer/Fall 2022)
  • Review 3-4 draft syllabi developed by other Fellows and provide feedback (Summer/Fall 2022)
  • Conduct a classroom visit to another Collaborative Project Course (Fall 2022)
  • Work with Learning Innovation to collect student feedback on your course (optional; Spring 2023)
  • Participate in Visit a Classroom with 2-3 other Fellows in the cohort (optional; Spring 2023)
  • Participate in an end-of-program debrief and lessons-learned discussion with the cohort (Spring 2023)

Fellows are expected to attend all meetings, complete work between meetings, be prepared for meeting activities and design a Collaborative Project Course to be taught in Fall 2022, Spring 2023, or Fall 2023.

Fellowships are limited – apply by Feb. 14 at 5 p.m.

Eligibility

Faculty of any level and rank and from any Duke school may apply. We hope to form a diverse cohort of faculty who can learn from one another. Faculty must be available to participate during the dates/times listed in the “Program Details” section above. If you cannot make the session dates and times, we encourage you to visit our Course Design Resource Center and schedule a consultation with Duke Learning Innovation.

The course that participating faculty design can be either a new or an existing course and can be targeted at undergraduate, graduate and/or professional school students. We expect participants to offer the course in either Fall 2022 or Spring 2023, but proposals for courses starting in Fall 2023 will also be considered. For existing courses, faculty should have support from their unit for offering the redesigned course on a regular basis, at least three times in the subsequent five-year period. New courses can be more experimental in nature, but there should be commitment from the unit for offering the course multiple times (assuming sufficient enrollment).

We also welcome faculty who are co-teaching a course to apply. In such an instance, one or both faculty may apply. If both faculty participate, the pair will receive $7,500 to use at their discretion.

Course and faculty support

Faculty who fully participate in all required meetings and activities will receive $5,000 to be used at the faculty member’s discretion. As noted above, faculty will also have the option of receiving $1,500 to cover 75 hours of a doctoral student’s time to support elements of the course design through the Bass Connections Collaborative Project Expeditions program.

Faculty will also have the opportunity to learn from and share ideas with a network of faculty, including other Fellows in the program and faculty who are experienced in this form of teaching who have offered to provide consultation to this group. Duke Learning Innovation and the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies will provide course design guidance and will also be available to connect faculty to other faculty or resources to support their course goals.

Application and selection

Applications should be submitted by Feb. 14 at 5 p.m. via this online form. You may draft your application directly within the online form and save and return to your work. The application will ask you to provide a brief description of the course you intend to design and upload a statement of support from your unit.

Faculty who are co-teaching a course (or faculty who teach different sections of a core course) can submit one application, with one letter of support. The application should make clear that the course would be co-taught and should clarify whether one, or both, faculty intend to participate in the program.

The strongest applications will be those in which: 1) the faculty demonstrate a commitment to the goals of the fellowship, and 2) the proposed course aligns with the curricular goals of the department/school (e.g., redesign of a core/gateway course; creation of a new course to fill a gap in the curriculum).

Decisions will be announced in late February 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Collaborative Project Courses different from service-learning courses or courses with team assignments?

There are two facets that should be incorporated into Collaborative Project Courses: student teamwork and generation of an authentic product through project-based work. Because of their applied nature and the existence of an external partner, many service-learning courses align with this model, but not all do. Courses with team assignments can also be Collaborative Project Courses if the team/project work is intensive, takes place throughout the semester and involves the creation of an authentic product (usually this means the product is for an audience beyond just the course participants and instructor).

What are some examples of a Collaborative Project Course?

This is a flexible model that can be applied in unique ways depending on the focus and goals of a course. That said, several examples include:

Read about the inaugural cohort of Fellows, which included faculty affiliated with six Duke schools and a wide array of university institutes.

Does the course have to be a new course, or can I propose to redesign an existing course?

We aim to form a diverse cohort of faculty working on a range of courses. Courses that address a strategic curricular goal of a given unit will be given preference. Often, this might mean reimagining a core or gateways course. It can also mean designing a new course that fills a gap in the curriculum. Courses can be targeted at any level of student and can be of any size.

How refined does my course idea need to be before I apply?

We don’t expect you to have a fully fleshed out idea before you apply, but your general idea should embody the ethos of a Collaborative Project Course. If you’re not sure whether your idea is a good fit, feel free to attend our drop-in office hours on December 15 from 11:00-12:00 (https://duke.zoom.us/j/97463590331) and/or request a meeting before the application due date with Laura Howes, Director of Bass Connections, or Andrea Novicki, Senior Teaching Consultant in Learning Innovation.

Do I have to participate in all the fellowship sessions?

Yes, Fellows are expected to attend and participate in all of the scheduled sessions.

Can we propose a co-taught course? What if a course has multiple sections taught by different faculty? Would both faculty need to participate in the program?

Many courses of this type are co-taught. If you plan to co-teach a course, it is up to you and your co-teacher whether or not you both wish to participate in the program. If both faculty choose to participate in the program, you only need to submit one application. Instead of $5,000 per faculty member, the pair will receive $7,500 to use at its discretion.

We also welcome pairs of faculty who teach different sections of a core course. The same arrangements apply (one or both may participate; if both, the pair would receive $7,500).

Do all Collaborative Project Courses involve research?

Many do, but this is not a requirement.

Do all Collaborative Project Courses involve community partners?

Many do, but this is not a requirement.

Are all Collaborative Project Courses interdisciplinary?

No, these courses may be deeply rooted within a discipline or interdisciplinary. All types of courses can benefit from this mode of pedagogy.

Is this program primarily focused on undergraduate courses?

No! Faculty who teach graduate and/or professional students or mixed-level courses are encouraged to consider this fellowship. All schools and programs are invited to reimagine their coursework to include Collaborative Project Courses.

What is the Collaborative Project Expeditions program and how would it fit in with this fellowship?

The Collaborative Project Expeditions program provides support for doctoral students to work with a faculty sponsor to create or redesign a course that integrates collaborative, project-based work as a central element of the course design. Participating students receive a stipend of $1,500 and are expected to spend approximately 75 hours over the course of the summer or a semester developing the collaborative project in consultation with their faculty sponsor. Common tasks that graduate students could assist with include cultivating client relationships and lining up projects with external partners, developing resources to support teams (e.g., project charters, peer assessments) or curating archival or other materials/resources for teams to work with throughout the duration of their project.

This is an optional element of the CPC Fellows program. If you are interested in having a doctoral student work with you, please indicate whether you have a doctoral student in mind or if you would need help recruiting a student.

Contact

Please contact Meghan O’Neil, mmo12@duke.edu, Bass Connections.