Bass Connections

Bass Connections at Duke supports vertically integrated teams of students and faculty across campus to engage in problem-based research built around five core themes: Brain & Society; Information, Society & Culture; Global Health; Education & Human Development; and Energy.

For the 2015-2016 academic year, the partnership with KIE and Bass Connections is supporting three new projects, thanks to the Silver Family Fund. They include Citizenship Lab: Civic Participation of Refugee Youth In Durham; Increasing the Living Kidney Donor Pool: Mechanisms, Models, and Motivations; and Reviewing Retrospective Regulatory Review. These three projects align with KIE’s program areas and will feature a public symposium on the research findings. Students interested in connecting with one of these projects should fill out the online form.

Previous projects include Displacement, Resettlement and Global Mental Health; Moral Judgments About and By Stimulant Users; The Language of Genocide and Human Rights; and Living Donor Kidney Transplants and the Good Samaritan. Information on these projects has been archived.


The United States resettles between 50-80,000 refugees annually. And more than half of these are women and children. North Carolina ranks tenth in the country in terms of refugee resettlement. In the past three years 2,500 refugees, predominantly from Bhutan, Burma and Iraq but also from Sudan, Somalia and elsewhere were resettled in the Triangle area. Resettlement poses numerous challenges for refugees whose history of violent displacement together with cultural and linguistic barriers often makes access to resources, jobs, education and social support difficult. Refugees also face substantial barriers to full participation in the life of their communities and initial evidence is that they have significantly lower lifetime levels of civic engagement. This project explores mechanisms for enhancing refugee civic participation with a focus on high school youth in Durham, North Carolina. This project has two allied dimensions. First, we will create a citizenship lab at Duke whose core objective will be to conduct a community based research project in Durham. Second, Duke faculty, graduate students and undergraduates will explore the empirical relationship between social science research engagement and citizenship.

Duke faculty, graduate students and undergraduates will explore the empirical relationship between social science research engagement and citizenship. Through program assessment (pre-test/post-test of participants based on a mix of existing survey instruments) we will attempt to measure the effectiveness of teaching citizenship via this pragmatic social science research method. Here faculty, graduate students and undergraduates revisit, update, and examine the impact of this program on migrant youth civic participation.

Bass Connections theme: Education & Human Development
KIE program connection: Human Rights

Faculty team members:
Abdul Sattar-Jawad (Islamic Studies & AMES)
Suzanne Shanahan (Sociology & Kenan Institute)
William Tobin (UNC Civil Rights)
Undergraduate and Graduate Student team members:
Maha Ahmed (Undergraduate)
Aidan Coleman (Undergraduate)
Catherine Farmer (Undergraduate)
Reed McLaurin (Undergraduate)
Alex Oprea (Graduate, Political Science)
Snehan Sharma (Undergraduate)
Maura Smyles (Undergraduate)
Elizabeth Tsui (Undergraduate)
Xu Wang (Graduate, Public Policy)
Elizabeth Wilkinson (Undergraduate)


This working group builds on the existing archive of refugee narratives from urban, refugee camp, and resettlement contexts gathered through KIE’s DukeImmerse: Uprooted/Rerouted program. Using this prior research as a point of departure, the group is studying how the resettlement process, a global and transnational program where refugees are provided settlement in countries such as the United States, affects the mental health and well-being of refugees.

While there are growing bodies of research on pre- and post-displacement, this project is innovative in that it considers resettlement as a global process which has implications for refugee health at different points, from the country of first asylum to the resettlement country. Prior research is being augmented by additional fieldwork in Jordan and Nepal. Primary focus is on the effects of displacement/resettlement on three communities: Bhutanese, Iraqis and Syrians.

Bass Connections theme: Global Health

Faculty team members:
Suzanne Shanahan, Sociology and Kenan Institute for Ethics
Eve Puffer, Psychology & Neuroscience and Duke Global Health Institute
Abdul Sattar Jawad, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies
Postdoctoral Fellow team member:
Nadia El-Sharaawi, Kenan Institute for Ethics

Read projects blogs from 2013-2014 and 2014-2015

Undergraduate and Graduate Student team members (2013-2014)
Grace Benson (Undergraduate)
Kiran Bhai (Undergraduate)
Sonia Hatfield (Graduate student – Public Policy)
Kelly Howard (Undergraduate)
Esther Kim (Undergraduate)
Malena Price (Undergraduate)
Leena El-Sadek (Undergraduate)
Jennifer Sherman (Undergraduate)
Julie Stefanich (Undergraduate)
Libby King MacFarlane (Graduate student – Global Health)
Undergraduate Student team members (2014-2015)
Maha Ahmed
Lily Doron
Leena El-Sadek
Noura Elsayed
Nali Gillespie
Michelle Khalid
Olivia Johnson
Josephine Ramseyer
Maura Smyles
Tra Tran