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Spring 2021 Courses

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SYNOPSIS: Starting in the bordellos of 17th-century Edo (now modern-day Tokyo) and spanning up through the kitsch of contemporary Japanese pop culture, this course examines the vibrant and often bawdy forms of Japanese print and visual culture. Introduction to Japanese printmaking practices and a forum for discussing critical issues related to sexuality, censorship, spectacle, satire, tourism, the supernatural, and the Asian experience of modernity. Investigates the spectacular worlds of the kabuki theater, sumo wrestling, and the “pleasure quarters” (the red-light district designated for licensed prostitution).

READER REQUIREMENTS: An ideal reader would have some background in art history or museum curating, although someone who is familiar with writing in history or literature would also be a good fit.


  • Final individual curatorial exhibition project (based on works in a museum collection):
  • 1-page project proposal and bibliography DUE March 8
  • 15-minute class presentation on topic (15% of grade)
    • Other students will provide feedback on topic and presentation
  • 15-page paper + exhibition mock-up (25% of grade) (20-25-page paper for Capstone students)
    • Outline Draft of Final Project DUE March 31 to peer partners and instructor (feedback should be returned by April 7 class time)
    • Final Project DUE April 27 12:00pm Noon



Climate change is happening now.  This seminar, combined with short lectures, will focus on how organisms, populations, and biological communities are expected to respond to climate change.  While reading the primary literature, we will discuss evidence for effects of climate change on organisms, how to experimentally test for potential effects of climate change, and the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that organisms have–or do not have–that enable them to respond to climate change.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers should have professional experience in the fields of Ecology, Environmental Science, Conservation Biology, or Evolutionary Biology/Ecology.  They should be frequent readers of the literature in these fields and ideally have experience in reading research grants in these fields.


Assignment 1: “Ramifications” paper.

Papers should be 600-1000 words, excluding references (4-8 recommended).

This assignment describes the ramifying effects of climate change.  Humans rely on other life forms to sustain human health, economy, and culture. The purpose of this assignment is to explore how diverse organisms potentially effect humans, directly or indirectly, and how effects of climate change on those organisms may also affect humans.  Starting with one well documented effect of climate change on a single organism, the challenge is to describe how the response of that organism ultimately has consequences for other organisms, including humans.

Assignment 2:  Grant proposal.

Students will write a final term paper in the form of a grant proposal to test some aspect of biological responses to climate change.  They will turn in two drafts of this paper throughout the semester, and these drafts will be peer reviewed.  Only final versions will be graded.  These grants will be in the form of and NSF Graduate Research Fellowship application, although I will allow up to 4 single-space pages, including references.  These proposals should include a Background section that clearly articulates the background information to motivate the research and clearly states specific hypotheses to be tested; a Methods section that presents the experimental design used to test the hypotheses; a section on Potential Outcomes that articulates potential results and how those results would be interpreted in terms of the stated hypotheses.  Grant proposals will be graded according to the strength of the motivation for the research, the quality of the hypotheses being tested, the appropriateness of the methods used to address the hypotheses, and the clarity with which the student relates the methods to the hypotheses and interprets possible outcomes.


Ramifications paper

2/4: Turn in first idea for Ramifications paper to Professor

2/16:  First draft of Ramifications paper due to READERS

2/23:  Turn in peer reviews of Ramifications papers

3/2:  Final draft of Ramifications papers due; share with READERS

Grant proposal

3/16: Turn in first idea for Grant Proposal to Professor

3/30:  First draft of Grant Proposal due to READERS

4/6:  First draft of Grant Proposal due for review to class

4/13:  Turn in peer reviews of Grant Proposals

4/20: Turn in revised draft to READERS

4/30:  Final papers due to class; share with READERS


SYNOPSIS: This course focuses on healthcare system strengthening and development in neurosurgery and neurology in Uganda. The assignments of this course will cover expanding neurosurgery access, outcome assessments from international partnerships and interventions, and research on the burden of surgical diseases in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Readers may commit to working with students just for the fall semester or for the entire academic year as this is a year-long project.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Master in Public Health or Public Policy Program (Sanford School) graduate; or MBA with health care system experience; or medical professionals with global public health and public health care systems experience, ideally in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC); knowledge of how to bring scientific findings and research to administrators to help make policy decisions highly desired; experience with inequities in the health care system and how to advocate for marginalized groups. Expertise writing WHITE PAPERS necessary.


Students have two group assignments:

  1. A critical review of the relevant scientific literature and government documents (hospital structure, supply chain, analysis of the research, etc. (genre: Literature Review)
  2. A White Paper on how to develop a health policy that addresses inequities

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: students will interpret relevant literature and data and put together a White Paper or a similar document that can be used in discussions with government administrators to help them develop a public health strategy for improving neurosurgery outcomes in hospitals.



SYNOPSIS: The course covers systematic methods for retrieving research articles on your independent study project, research methodology, locating, reading and summarizing a lead reference provided by the research director, locating other articles on the research project, and general methods of keeping a research lab notebook and a literature research notebook, safety in the context of a research lab, safety in the research laboratory, research instrumentation, research ethics, writing a research proposal and progress reports. Chemistry 295, Introduction to Research for Independent Study, is required for majors who intend to pursue graduation with distinction in Chemistry or a degree in Chemistry that is certified by the American Chemical Society.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers must be chemists, biochemists, or medical or pharmacology professionals with a graduate degree and extensive research and laboratory experience in the industry and substantial experience with writing research proposals.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Scientific research proposal.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: There will be two substantive reader interactions in addition to the introductory meeting. One discussion will be about the Introduction and Literature Review sections of the proposal and the second will be about the Methods and Results sections. Each probably 5-8 pages.

IMPORTANT COURSE DEADLINES: Students will apprise the reader of all pertinent deadlines and student and reader schedule their interactions accordingly.


SYNOPSIS: Laboratory course with experiments designed to accompany the Chemistry 311 lecture. Topics emphasized are thermodynamics, statistical thermodynamics, and kinetics described from a microscopic point of view. Chemistry 311L should be taken concurrently with Chemistry 311 for students needing a second semester of physical chemistry lab for their major.

READER REQUIREMENTS: A basic knowledge of undergraduate physical chemistry, professionally invested science educators, lay readers with an interest in undergraduate science education. Ideal readers want to learn something new or review a topic about thermodynamics, statistical thermodynamics, and kinetics.

WRITING ASSIGNMENTS: Student will write two formal pieces in this course patterned on typical journal format. The first assignments will be on an experiment conducted from a laboratory manual. The second assignment will be a proposal for an experiment:

What we want students to do, is to think through what they know and have learned through their studies of physical chemistry, both lecture and lab, and identify an area that they found interesting, but that was not addressed in the laboratory. Then do some reading and researching, and propose an experiment that could be added to our laboratory curriculum. In general, it would be better to propose experiments that could be done in our existing facility without needing to purchase new expensive instrumentation.  The point is, that we would like to hear from students what good addition we could make to our undergraduate physical chemistry laboratory experience.

Student proposals should be well thought out and reasonably formal in presentation. It need not be a lengthy piece of writing, but should begin with an introduction that describes the idea and the background theory behind the experiment. It should tell us what hole the experiment will fill in the existing curriculum and why this is important. Following that, students should have a list of needed materials, including instrumentation, minor equipment, chemicals and supplies that would be required to conduct the work. Students should note if we already have what they need, or if we will need to purchase. For items that we need to purchase, students should include make and model of instruments and minor equipment. For chemicals and supplies, include CAS and catalog numbers, and amounts needed. Include the approximate cost where possible. Finally, the proposal should include an experimental plan that outlines how the experiment will be done.


Please focus on the following:

  • Does the student clearly define the proposal?
  • Does the student use charts/graphs/illustrations clearly to demonstrate the setup and outcomes?



SYNOPSIS: Why do we have a welfare system? What are the implications of artificial intelligence and robotics for jobs? How can we justify the existence of minimum wage? What is the effect of immigration of the outcomes of natives? Why are female workers consistently paid less than their male counterparts? We will study how labor economists think about these topics. The course will provide some basic tools of economic analysis and important institutional background regarding the US and international economies. The class will consist of lectures and debates on the interplay between labor and public policies, including the ethical dimensions of these controversial issues.


SYNOPSIS: This course will analyze issues of spatial economics, including why cities are formed, patterns of residential and business location, models of housing market segregation, business location, and urban population “explosions” in developing countries. The course begins with an overview of the monocentric city model, explaining patterns of population density, commuting, and housing values. This course will emphasize real estate and financial aspects of the housing market. A second major theme of this course will be the economy of Durham, and the underlying residential and commercial patterns. My current research interests center on the economics of trailer parks and real estate and suburbanization in transition economies, so you’ll learn more about those topics than in a conventional course. 

READER REQUIREMENTS: Professionals with interest in urban and real estate topics

WRITING ASSIGNMENTS: The term paper is expected to be 20 pages in length plus tables, on a topic of the student’s choice, but subject to instructor approval. The paper is expected to involve [a] original empirical or theoretical research (required of students in Econ 554), or [b] a comprehensive survey a topic, and provide policy analysis in light of recent data and research. However, we strongly encourage all students to undertake original empirical work, regardless of whether or not it makes use of sophisticated statistical techniques. It is also worth noting that many papers from this course have been published in the Duke Journal of Economics, and other students have built on their term paper to write a senior thesis.





SYNOPSIS: This is the second part of the Honors Seminar which began in the fall. The goal of this Research Workshop is to continue working on the chosen research project for their honors thesis in Economy. Students have acquired a working knowledge of theories and empirical  research in their chosen area and are now in the writing stage. If students are doing empirical research, they will have collected the relevant data in the fall and are now presenting their findings. The final writing for this semester will be an Honors Thesis in the form of a research paper that builds on the research proposal which was drafted in the fall.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers with an interest in economic issues. Because students will decide on their topics in the fall  semester, readers will get involved later in the semester and continue working with the student throughout the spring semester. Interested readers will receive information on the student’s planned topic from the student and can help students write a well-structured research paper based on the research done in the fall.


INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: Readers should support students in finding a research project that can be completed within 2 semesters. Students often get excited about topics that need some severe narrowing down to something that is manageable and executable within two semesters. Outside readers can offer their perspective on how to shape an idea into a well-argued, well-structured proposal and may continue working on the Honors Thesis with the student.

IMPORTANT COURSE DEADLINES: Please check with the student on deadlines.


SYNOPSIS: This course is designed to introduce students to various legal issues facing the educational system in this country.  Included for consideration and discussion will be such topics as first amendment rights (religious freedom and free speech); Title IX; due process, both procedural and substantive; liability of educational institutions and educators (negligence); contractual rights and obligations; and, student, staff, faculty and parental rights and privacy.  Whenever possible, legal distinctions will be made between elementary/secondary settings and institutions of higher education as well as between private and public institutions.

READER REQUIREMENTS: The ideal reader would have a background in the law and feel comfortable helping students prepare an appellate brief (the format/content of the brief will be a somewhat “relaxed” version).

WRITING ASSIGNMENT:  A persuasive, comprehensive appellate brief to include all legal arguments. Pairs of students will be assigned the role of plaintiff or defendant in a relevant, education law case.  Cases will be provided to students on February 5.  An outline of the brief is due on February 26 and a first draft is due between March 12 and 26 – the student’s choice.  The final brief is due on the last day of class (April 23).  In addition to the brief, each pair is required to make an oral presentation of his/her research/brief to the class



SYNOPSIS: The Government of Ethiopia has laid out an ambitious vision for expanding electricity access over the next 5 years—enshrined in the National Electrification Plan 2.0—and has made increased agricultural productivity and renewable energy sources a central pillar of that approach. With 85% of Ethiopian livelihoods tied to agriculture, improving productivity in the sector has the potential to not only increase rural incomes, but also provide the anchor loads to support reliable, financially sustainable power system expansion to remote areas, including through off-grid approaches. To achieve this goal, however, a deeper understanding is needed of the critical inputs to improved agriculture productivity in the Ethiopian context: appropriate crop mix, water needs and availability, productive use equipment demands and supply chains, energy service options, the role of value added processing, and the type of supportive policy that would be most efficacious. Aiming to support this, Duke University’s Energy Access Project (EAP) is launching an effort focused on providing analysis that informs energy, agriculture, and water policy-making and which ultimately de-risks related investments in these sectors.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers with professional experience related to agriculture and rural economies in developing countries and comfortable with economic modelling needed. Readers ideally have a background in politics and agriculture in low and middle income countries; rural economies; modelling and integrated modelling; readers familiar with rural electrification in developing countries strongly encouraged.

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: In the fall semester students will prepare one major assignment. They will draft and complete a proposal for a team project (approximately 1200 words, or 4-5 double-spaced pages), working in teams of four to five people. The proposal should include background and context based on the readings, lectures, and discussions conducted to date, as well as the description of a problem of interest or area that you would like to investigate further. We will provide additional details for this assignment during the fall semester.

In the spring, we expect you to (i) write a capstone paper, (ii) deliver an oral presentation (with slides), and (iii) write a brief summary, suitable for publication in blog format. All three of these deliverables would be team efforts, working in teams of two to three people (probably, but not necessarily, the same team as you worked with in the fall). The capstone paper would provide a detailed summary of your work over the spring; the specific topic / project will unfold over the late fall and early spring, and would be the same as (or closely related to) the paper you write in the fall. The capstone paper would summarize background and context, as well as a review of relevant literature (policy / grey literature as well as relevant academic literature), description of data that you collected or assembled, documentation of analytical methods, and a detailed analysis of the problem and solution that you developed over the course of the year.
The presentation and brief summary / blog publication would develop the same ideas, but in somewhat different formats. We will provide additional details for all three (related) assignments during the course of the year. Note that we may ask for intermediate deliverables over the course of the spring semester to help you refine your ideas and ensure you are receiving feedback in an organized manner as you develop your solution / analysis.
Finally, we will ask the entire class to work together to produce a final poster. This is a requirement for all Bass Connections teams: to produce a team poster to display at the


SYNOPSIS: In this course we will examine the evolution of environmental policies and policymaking that address a broad range of environmental issues in the United States. In doing so, we will analyze policies that have been adopted to address both ‘brown’ (pollution) and ‘green’ (natural resource management) environmental issues, as well as issues at the intersection of environmental sectors. The course, divided into four sections, covers a range of topics and environmental issues. We will discuss how environmental problems are defined, who does the defining and who has been included/excluded in this discourse. We will consider the roles of each in the policymaking process and how their agendas and actions have differed across administrations, as well as the economic, political and social forces that have driven these differences.

We will also learn about a variety of policy tools (policy instruments) to manage the environment. We will center our discussion of natural resource policy on the history of property rights regimes and the challenges of collective action, thinking critically about federal, state management, common, and private management of natural resources. The class will investigate the strengths and limitations of environmental policymaking across levels of governance. In doing so, the course will cover topics such as state-level environmental regulation, environmental justice, community-level resilience, collaborative processes and multi-level ecosystem management.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers must be familiar with environmental policies and the writing of policy memos.

Students will write two (2-3 pages each), policy memos analyzing current environmental policies. Drafts of the memos are due at least one week prior to the final deadline.  


Policy Memo #1 Assigned: February 1

Policy Memo #1 Draft Due: February 10

Policy Memo #1 Final Due: March 1st

Policy Memo #2 Assigned:  March 17th

Policy Memo #2 Draft Due: March 24th

Policy Memo #2 Final Due: April 5th





SYNOPSIS: Global capitalism relies on the ever increasing extraction and displacement of natural resources around the world. The discovery and subsequent colonization of Latin America by European powers meant the massive circulation of organisms (from germs to human beings) and natural resources (organic and mineral) across continents with lasting consequences for humans, animals and landscapes. Focusing on Latin America, this course analyzes the environmental history of global capitalism. Our aim will be to explore what happens when massive amounts of natural resources are relocated from one place to another.

READER REQUIREMENTS: The ideal reader will have expertise in Latin America and/or the environment. No particular knowledge is needed.

WRITING ASSIGNMENTS: The principal assignment for this class will be to produce collectively a WordPress site that offers in-depth analyses of particular places in Latin America that serve as current local observatories of how the human and geographical environment have been historically shaped by wider global dynamics. The projects will examine a place in Latin America in which one can see these dynamics at play, such as mining, intensive agricultural production, modifications of ecosystems, etc. Each project will draw on both specific materials pertaining to the project, and on the materials covered in class. Students will form teams around broader topics and will work together and individually on a semester-long research and writing assignment. Throughout the semester, students will have assignments that break down the project into successive stages and revisions and collective feedback into the research and writing processes.


  • Thursday, February 4: Choose a potential research project and upload to Sakai, a description of the place and environmental problem you plan on studying (one or two paragraphs long) and a research question
  • Thursday,  February 18: Commented research bibliography
  • Thursday, February 25: Articulate and narrow down a research question
  • Thursday, March 25: Full-text due
  • Thursday, April 1: Synthetic map and illustrations
  • Thursday, April 8: Co-authored introduction due
  • Thursday, April 15: Final draft to be posted to the WordPress site




SYNOPSIS: This course serves as the capstone course for students conducting honors thesis projects in preparation for Graduation with Distinction (GwD) in Neuroscience. This course is intended to work synergistically with GwD requirements to aid students in communicating their research. In addition, the course aims to prepare students for managing professional aspects of a scientific career. The course provides opportunities for knowledge acquisition and skill development in the following areas:

  • Written and oral presentation skills in preparation for the GwD thesis
  • The peer review and publication process
  • Grantsmanship
  • Scientific ethics

Readings for the course will include academic papers and brief opinion pieces on professional aspects of the disciplines of psychology, neuroscience, and medicine.

READER REQUIREMENTS: The ideal reader will help the student prepare a grant proposal and research paper with poster presentation on the topic chosen by the student. Topics will be in the field of Neuroscience and range from developmental psychology to anesthesiology labs/projects and available once students have signed up for the Reader Project.

WRITING ASSIGNMENTS: grant proposal, research paper, poster



SYNOPSIS: This graded course unit accompanies the writing of the Graduation with Distinction thesis. It is restricted to distinction candidates, and is specifically geared at preparing students for pursuing research at the graduate school level and beyond. Topics cover all phases of research project development, scientific article writing, and poster and oral presentation. In addition, the course includes a variety of professional development sessions, introducing the students to the publication process, graduate school considerations, and grant writing. The students are required to produce several written works and oral presentation.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers with a background in Psychology and expertise in writing research papers intended for publication in the field . Specific backgrounds depend on students’ interests.

WRITING ASSIGNMENTS: Potentially publishable research article on a topic in Psychology chosen by the student. Topics vary.


SYNOPSIS: STA 440 is an intensive applied course that asks you to analyze timely real-world data across diverse domains in a principled, data-driven way. This course is the capstone for students majoring in statistical science. Students apply statistical analysis skills to in-depth data analysis projects ranging across diverse applications including but not limited to environmental sustainability, global health, information and culture, brain sciences, and social networks. Its goal is to prepare students to transition to the professional practice of statistics and data science in a variety of organizations and industries. Important skills required of practicing statisticians (in addition to having a great set of tools in the statistics toolbox!) include creativity, critical thinking, teamwork, the ability to identify needed new skills and to learn them with minimal direction, the ability to craft a statistical analysis plan to fit a scientific hypothesis or question, teamwork, and the ability to communicate to a variety of audiences (including other statisticians, experts in areas other than statistics, a supervisor at work, and the general public, among others). Students also gain experience at learning and applying new techniques as they will need to do as lifelong learners. Much of the work is done in teams, but the individual writing assignment is a chance for each student to gain experience, confidence, and individual feedback on their analysis and professional communication.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Readers with an interest and some prior experience in reading statistical analysis of real world problems. Students have chosen their own topics and readers will be matched to projects of interest. The course uses R for statistical computation; readers do NOT need to be R users or statisticians.

INSTRUCTOR SUGGESTIONS FOR READERS: Envision the student’s project as a data analysis report on a topic of interest, and something you might hear as a presentation from internal research staff, consultants, or presenters at a practitioners’ professional meeting.  The report should have compelling enough graphical displays and text to hold your interest and be publishable by a reputable journal.


Students will identify interesting hypotheses to evaluate for a topic and data set of their choosing, select appropriate statistical methods, conduct the analysis and present their findings in a written report and oral presentation.


9. February: Individual project proposal due

23. March: Methods section due

4. April: Preliminary results due

1.May: Final report due



Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, numerous claims about treatments and preventive measures for the disease have circulated in the news and online. While some of these methods require a prescription, others don’t—so that many people worried about contracting or already ill with COVID-19 are deciding for themselves whether to take melatonin or colloidal silver, or to ingest mega-doses of vitamin C or garlic. And if evaluating health claims wasn’t already difficult enough, the COVID situation has been heavily infused with politics. The challenges of dealing with “fake news” have, thus, come full-force into the health sciences.

In this section of Writing 101, you will confront these informational challenges head on. You will learn about the contemporary health science publishing process to understand its strengths and limitations—from the peer-review process used by editors to evaluate submitted research papers to “predatory journals.” You will learn strategies for evaluating health claims in published research reports and then produce your own written evaluations of published studies, considering both the scientific content and the trustworthiness of the source. And you will learn and think deeply about how experts and non-experts do and should choose which sources of information to rely upon when making decisions about health claims—shaping your thinking into an extended, scholarly essay focused on a specific COVID treatment or prevention claim. Along the way you will get guided practice in using expert strategies for researching, drafting, and revising your written work—including using research databases, getting and giving useful feedback on work-in-progress, and editing your writing to make it clear and compelling for your target audience. Major writing assignments will include an op-ed, a Practice Point review of a published research article, and a commentary (scholarly essay) examining the relationship between media coverage and scientific evidence related to a proposed COVID-19 treatment or prevention method.

READER REQUIREMENTS: Professional background in one of the following: any area of health science or clinical work dealing with infectious disease; journalism; health-science-related policy.


DEADLINES: Begin:  Mar 11             Due:  April 22


  1. Is the writing clear and well organized? That is, how easy or difficult is it for you to follow the student’s line of reasoning?
  2. What do you find interesting and compelling?  Where are you skeptical or bored?
  3. If possible, do a “think aloud response”—reading the paper aloud and pausing frequently to describe your reactions to what you’re reading. For guidance on how to do this, please listen to this example: