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 Information on these projects has been archived.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)


This Bass Connections team will be researching ways to increase the pool of living kidney donors through altruistic donor chains and is seeking undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with interest in global health, the brain sciences, law, or ethics (or some combination thereof) to join them in the planning and implementation of a working group and symposium on the subject of non-simultaneous, extended, altruistic donor (NEAD) chains in the arena of kidney transplants.

NEAD chains provide a focused entry into the real-world problem of end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which each year in the U.S. leads to 90,000 deaths and costs Medicare $28 billion. Even more, ESRD highlights the health disparities of African Americans and Hispanics, among others, and it raises a host of important questions across a wide variety of disciplines (chief among them: medicine, law, religion, public policy, global health, and various disciplines within the brain sciences).

The students who join this effort will help to plan and then participate in an initial working group meeting of Duke faculty members (e.g., from law, divinity, medicine, sociology, and the brain sciences) and practitioners (surgeons, physicians, clergy) scheduled for November 11, 2014. Students will then help both to collate the learnings from this meeting, and to design and implement a symposium later in the academic year. We seek students with a passionate interest in diverse topics captured in a nexus of questions concerning sources of generosity and gratitude (or “pro-social behaviors”), the role of religion in defining moral attitudes, the intricacies of decision making, the nature of trust and promise-keeping, the contractual character of kidney donation, and the sources of health disparities, both domestic and global.

Bass Connections themes: Brain & SocietyGlobal Health
KIE program connection: Religions and Public Life

Faculty team members:
David Toole (Divinity, Kenan Institute, and Global Health)



How well do regulations actually work—and, in turn, how well do government reviews of regulatory impacts actually work? This project will study the emerging efforts of government agencies throughout the world to evaluate the actual impacts of their regulatory programs—so-called “retrospective regulatory review” (RRR). As RRR mechanisms proliferate, a number of questions arise: Who performs these reviews, and what are their goals? What are their methods? How do their findings influence regulatory policy? Through comparative analysis of case studies at the local, national, and international levels, we’ll examine how well these mechanisms are functioning, and learn how they could do better.

Bass Connections theme: Brain & SocietyInformation, Society & Culture
KIE program connection: Rethinking Regulation

Faculty team members:
Edward Balleisen (History, Public Policy)
Lori Bennear (Environmental Sciences & Policy)
Jonathan Weiner (Law, Environmental Sciences & Policy, Public Policy)
Elizabeth Brake (Fuqua)
Kimberly Krawiec (Law School)
Amy Pickle (Nicholas Institute)
Billy Pizer (Sanford School of Public Policy)
Benjamin Waterhouse (History, UNC Chapel Hill)
Undergraduate and Graduate Student team members:
Kate Baxter (Undergraduate)
Josh Bruce (PhD, Sociology)
Mercy Demenno (PhD, Public Policy)
Bochen Han (Undergraduate)
Anna Johns (PhD, History)
Sarah Kerman (Undergraduate)
Rishabh Kumar (Undergraduate)
Jackie Lin (Undergraduate)
Nancy Merlin (Undergraduate)
Neelesh Moorthy (Undergraduate)
Daniel Ribeiro (SJD, Law)
Alena Sadiq (Undergraduate)