Teaching at Duke


The Duke GVC Center provided undergraduate students with perspectives on the linking of economic, social and environmental development. One way is through Professor Gereffi’s courses taught within the sociology department. The following are examples of the teaching impact for undergraduates.

Bass Connections

From 2013 – 2016, the Duke GVC Center participated in Bass Connections, a Duke university-wide, interdisciplinary initiative focused on engaging students in the exploration of unanswered questions about major societal challenges. The Duke GVC Center Bass Connections course was entitled “North Carolina in the Global Economy: the Workforce Development Challenge.” The course was co-led by Professor Gereffi and Lukas Brun with research and technical support from Stacey Frederick. The course was open to undergraduate students from all disciplines and years, although the majority were juniors in Public Policy or Economics majors pursuing the Markets and Management certificate.

Each of the three years had a different focus area related to workforce development and competitiveness in North Carolina:

– 2013-2014: in the first year, students looked at the seven industries on the NC in the Global Economy website and assisted the Duke GVC Center in updating the content of the website.
– 2014-2015: in year two, students researched North Carolina’s position in the defense and aerospace sectors.
– 2015-2016: in the final year, students looked at North Carolina’s Appalachian Regional Commission’s counties in the automotive and beverage value chains.

The course objectives were to update and extend our knowledge of economic and workforce development challenges in North Carolina’s main and emerging industries. The course was a highly innovative, fast-paced interdisciplinary research collaboration between students, faculty and staff focused on developing practical research and team project skills, creating networking opportunities with professionals (guest lectures and networking), identifying summer research work opportunities and creating outputs that matter to policymakers. Each year, two teams of 3-5 students created project plans and team charters, developed value chain maps of their industries, invited guest speakers from industry, government, community colleges and non-profits, and developed websites, reports and academic articles summarizing their findings. To learn more, visit the North Carolina section of the website.

“My involvement with the Duke GVC Center through Bass Connections truly molded my college experience. Our approach to learning throughout the course went far beyond the typical liberal arts classroom, expanding to extensive data analysis and in-depth interviews with industry professionals. These experiences put a unique spin on my four years at Duke, and, ultimately, shaped my growth as a creative and critical thinker.” – Alexandra Schwartz, ’15

“The Bass Connections course I took for two semesters was among my most enriching university experiences. Working with a tight-knit team of motivated individuals and a professor who is at the forefront of the GVC framework development allowed me to gain insights into North Carolina’s economic position that I would never have been able to grasp before.” – Shelley Wu, ’17

“It was really fulfilling to see the research process through from start to finish, and I’m grateful to Duke for allowing students to participate in such an innovative and intellectually stimulating program. Now as an alumnae, I’m able to draw on my research, teamwork and presentation experiences from the GVC Center’s project in both my professional and personal pursuits.” – Hannah McCracken, ’16

“The yearlong Bass Connections course was the most academically fulfilling experience of my four years at Duke University. This is the type of class I came to Duke in order to take. I had the opportunity to work one-on-one with world renown scholars on economic development policies for rural Appalachian North Carolina. I applied challenging technical concepts using the GVC framework and writing manuscripts. Furthermore, the work I was doing will impact people’s lives. Finally, I believe that this Bass Connections course gave me the chance to improve my analytical skills, which were very helpful when I applied for management consultant jobs.” – Bryan Dinner, ’16

“My research with the Duke GVC Center has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my Duke career. I was able to learn the importance of using a holistic perspective such as GVCs when approaching economic development. I am grateful to the Duke GVC Center for extending this incredible learning opportunity to undergraduates and for the opportunity to engage in meaningful, impactful work” – Shruti Rao, ’18