644 Bass Connections

About Bass Connections

Bass Connections is a university-wide program that offers graduate and undergraduate students immersive research opportunities through more than 60 year-long project teams. On Bass Connections teams, graduate and professional students, postdocs, and undergraduates work together with faculty and outside experts to conduct cutting-edge research on important issues such as health inequality, environmental sustainability, human rights, educational opportunity, and medical ethics.

Teams generally work together for nine to 12 months. Participating students usually receive academic credit (see below for crediting options for Law students), although students in specialized roles may sometimes serve in a paid role.
Team members blend their diverse skills and expertise, allowing students of all levels to learn and contribute. Their work results in policy recommendations, journal articles, new datasets to inform future research, health interventions, novel modes of delivering social services, prototypes, museum exhibits, future grants, and more.

Benefits of Participation for Professional Students

Professional students play a crucial role on Bass Connections teams, often serving as subject area experts, project managers or sub-group leaders, and mentors for undergraduates. Project teams also offer professional students an exciting opportunity to apply coursework to a concrete problem, access professional development resources, expand academic and professional networks, and build career-enhancing skills to stand out on the job market.

In particular, students learn how to plan and implement complex projects, work in teams, mentor and lead others, and communicate across boundaries to find solutions to complex challenges – skills that are crucial for successful careers in almost any field.

Crediting Options for Law Students

Law students who are interested in participating in Bass Connections have the following crediting options:
Teams led by a Duke Law Faculty Member: If a Duke Law faculty member leads a Bass Connections team (see list below), Law students are eligible to receive Law School credit (up to three credits per semester). Upon being accepted to join a team, students must apply for approval to receive Law School credit by documenting the law and policy work (research, drafting, etc.) they will be undertaking as part of the team and the amount of time they will spend on the project. Such students should contact Dean Lacoff in the Office of Academic Affairs.
Teams without Duke Law Faculty Members: Some Bass Connections team are grappling with legal matters but do not include a Duke Law faculty leader (see list below). While Law students are encouraged to participate on these teams, students would not be eligible for Law School credit. Such students could opt to use their non-Law credit, noting that each student is only permitted three such credits. Students may also petition the Law School’s Administrative Committee for permission to apply up to three additional credits. Such appeals must demonstrate the rigor of the project and the connection to legal matters. Students interested in participating in these projects should contact Dean Lacoff in the Office of Academic Affairs.
Other options: Some students participate on Bass Connections teams in a paid capacity, particularly if they are serving in a leadership/project management role on the team. Each team is structured differently. It is at the discretion of faculty team leaders whether they offer paid roles. Law students may not earn academic credit if they are paid for their work.
Some students also participate on Bass Connections teams in an extra-curricular capacity because they are passionate about the topics, see sufficient professional benefits to participation, and/or because the topic aligns with their own research/career interests.
In some circumstances, Duke Law students may also document leadership or other skill development through a Bass Connections team experience that may count toward the professional development graduation requirement. Please contact a career counselor if you are interested in pursuing this option.

Opportunities to Participate in 2020-2021

The primary application cycle for teams takes place each February for the coming academic year. However, select Bass Connections teams are still recruiting student participants for the coming academic year, including several teams which are specifically seeking Law students. Please keep reading to learn about crediting options for Law students and to review a list of teams of interest to Law students. Students are also encouraged to visit the Bass Connections website for more information. Students may apply for these opportunities beginning on July 27 with a deadline of July 31 at 11:59 pm. Students will be notified of selection by no later than August 14. 

2020-2021 Project Teams Eligible for Law School Credit

This project team will investigate how people living in wildland-urban interface areas in North Carolina navigate and make decisions about risk, health, safety and information sources related to wildfires.
Law School faculty leader: Shane Stansbury
This project will examine how the U.S. collects and uses immigrants’ biometric data as well as the ethical tensions underlying the imperative to balance national security alongside the rights of migrants.
Law School faculty leader: Nita Farahany
This project will analyze current approaches to the integration of contact tracing technologies with person-to-person contact tracking used by U.S. states and countries around the world. Team members will assess these approaches against globally accepted fair information privacy principles, consider long-term impacts of contact tracing and explore the risks of these approaches to marginalized and persecuted communities. 
Law School faculty leaders: Jolynn Dellinger & Shane Stansbury

2019-2020 Project Teams Not Eligible for Law School Credit

This project team will investigate the challenges that the coronavirus outbreak poses to democratic electoral processes related to voter turnout and voting rights.
This project team will investigate the lived experiences of North Carolinians with disabilities and their families across different COVID-19 phases in order to make policy and practice recommendations.
This project team will examine how different communities and humanitarian actors in conflict-affected countries in the Middle East and North Africa are responding to the pandemic and expanding access to water and sanitation.
This project team will develop a data-driven study of migration and its relationship to arts and culture.
This project team will use ocean evidence gap maps to undertake in-depth literature reviews of the relationships between select conservation interventions and social-ecological outcomes.
Course Areas of Practice
Evaluation Methods
Course Type
Learning Outcomes
Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context
Other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession

*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.