Trauma-Informed Courts project receives Bass Connections grant funding

May 3, 2022Latest News, Trauma-Informed Courts

Duke University | Bass Connections

The Bolch Judicial Institute’s Trauma-Informed Courts initiative was selected by Duke University’s Bass Connections as a 2022–23 project team. Bass Connections will fund a team of Duke undergraduate and graduate students to investigate the impact of trauma-informed court-based practices by visiting courthouses in North Carolina, interviewing court users, surveying judges and court administrators, and analyzing the latest research on trauma-informed care.

“We are grateful to have been selected for this unique opportunity,” said Amelia Thorn, assistant director for special projects at the Bolch Judicial Institute and faculty lead for the Bass Connections project. “Many community leaders, including judges, are beginning to incorporate an understanding of ACEs or adverse childhood experiences into their work. This study presents a chance to conduct much-needed empirical research on how trauma-informed practices are being used and how they impact litigants — especially in North Carolina. We know from prior research that judges are eager to learn more about the efficacy of these trauma-informed practices, and this project will allow us to help provide some answers.”

Research results from the year-long study will inform the curriculum for an educational program for state court judges and other court administrators on the effects of juvenile trauma, an ongoing project that is a joint effort between the Bolch Judicial Institute and the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.

Each year, Bass Connections provides grant funding to project teams, a mix of faculty, postdocs, graduate students, undergraduates, and external partners, to tackle complex societal challenges. The interdisciplinary research teams are selected based on the criteria that they establish three core connections:

  • Across areas of disciplinary expertise
  • Across learner levels (undergraduate, master/professional, doctoral, and medical students)
  • Between the academy and the broader world.

A complete overview of the Trauma-Informed Courts: A Public Health Approach to Juvenile Justice project team and the Bass Connections program can be found on the Bass Connections website. In addition to the Bass Connections grant, the Bolch Judicial Institute’s trauma-informed court initiative receives generous support from the Winer Family Foundation.

Duke undergraduate students interested in participating in this research team should email Amelia Thorn at