Bass Digital Education Fellows Spotlight Series: Qingran Li Creates Digital Tools for joint Duke, Duke Kunshan Course

The Bass Digital Education Fellowship program is a joint effort by Duke Learning Innovation and the Duke Graduate School that began in 2019. This academic year, the Digital Education program welcomed its second cohort of Bass fellows. These six fellows took part in a year-long fellowship that offers PhD students an opportunity to collaborate on digital projects in partnership with Duke faculty and under the guidance of Learning Innovation.

Qingran Li headshot
Qingran Li

Qingran Li, who graduated with her PhD in Environmental Policy (Economics) from Duke University this Spring, partnered with Professor Billy Pizer at the Sanford School of Public Policy to create materials for the Spring 2021 course “Climate Change Economics and Policy” (ENVIRON.640 / PUBPOL.585). Two aspects of the Spring 2021 course created pedagogical challenges for the instructional staff: the course is taught in a hybrid format and both Duke students as well as students Duke Kunshan University were enrolled in the course. In this iteration of the course, about half of the approximately 50 students enrolled participated remotely. 

In addition to the challenges produced by time zone and format differences, the instructional staff also had to consider the varied academic backgrounds of the students. Identifying the challenge of teaching interdisciplinary materials to a diverse student population, Li worked to improve the student learning experience through creating digital content to meet their learning needs.

Enhancing the Hybrid Class Experience

A major component of Li’s work was to design and create a bootcamp module for the course. 

“Teaching this diverse student audience is challenging, as some are not familiar with terms and tools either in economics or climate science,” Li said during the 2020-21 Bass Digital Education Fellowship Spring Showcase. “The bootcamp module is therefore designed to provide basic training and knowledge in both fields, so that students are prepared for interdisciplinary learning.”

To complete her work project, Li worked with several members of the Duke Community, including Learning Innovation project advisor Learning Experience Designer William Williamson  and J. Brandon Johnson at Duke OIT, who provided audio/video consultations as Li created the bootcamp module.

To maximize how in-class time was used in “Climate Change Economics and Policy,” asynchronous videos were created to shift lectures and tutorials outside of the class. In addition to enhancing the in-class experience, Li noted that asynchronous videos also made these course components more accessible to the students. 

You can view an example of one of these videos:

Future and Impact

The impact of Li’s project will go beyond “Climate Change Economics and Policy,” as she used a selection of the digital materials from her work to create a new Sakai site. This site, which is accessible to the broader Duke community, functions as a seven-week introductory course in climate change economics.

Li’s work with “Climate Change Economics and Policy” acts as an example of how to innovate for both interdisciplinary and international courses. You can hear her speak more about her project by watching her presentation for the Bass Digital Education Fellowship Spring Showcase below:

Li will be joining Clarkson University as an Assistant Professor in Environmental Economics and Sustainability in Fall 2021.

Learn More

You can read more about the general Bass Digital Education program experience, including the professional development opportunities offered to fellows.


If you are interested in learning more about participating in the Bass Digital Education Fellows program, subscribe to our newsletter to receive an alert when applications open for the next fellowship cohort. Applications for the 2020-2021 session are closed, but we provide more information for the 2022-2023 academic year in Fall 2021. Applications are submitted through the Graduate School. To see a full list of eligibility criteria and required application materials, visit the Graduate School site.