Special Call: Bass Connections Invites Proposals for Projects Related to COVID-19

May 12, 2020

Final submission: June 30.

Bass Connections, in partnership with the Margolis Center for Health Policy, is now accepting proposals for new projects addressing research related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty interested in proposing such a project should read the full submission guidelines and submit a proposal by June 15, 2020 for priority consideration. Thereafter, we will have a rolling deadline through June 30, 2020.​​​

Proposed pop-up theme projects may begin in Summer or Fall 2020. Project funding will range from $5,000 to $20,000.

This special call for proposals does not take the place of the normal Bass Connections RFP process. All other proposals for year-long Bass Connections project teams should be submitted through our normal RFP, to be issued in early September.


Bass Connections supports interdisciplinary, collaborative research to address pressing societal challenges. The five interdisciplinary themes of Bass Connections support research related to persistent societal challenges such as health inequities, education, environmental sustainability, the intersection of technology and society and the brain’s role in making us human. As broad as these themes are, they are not all-encompassing, and we recognize the need to respond nimbly to new challenges confronting society. As a result, since 2018, Bass Connections has launched two “pop-up themes,” the first focused on hurricane recovery and resilience and the second on research related to immigrationThis call is for project proposals related to a new pop-up theme around research related to the ongoing and future challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19: Responding to Current and Future Challenges

In a matter of months, the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged nearly every institution and caused the world community to alter long-held ways of living. There is no doubt that the impact of this pandemic will be profound and lasting.  

Bass Connections, in partnership with the Margolis Center for Health Policy, issues this special call for proposals for teams interested in addressing research questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic through a Bass Connections project in 2020-2021. 

  • Maximum project funding is $20,000, but we encourage teams to keep the budget lean. We anticipate capping funding at $15,000 unless a team has a particular need that justifies a higher budget. 
  • All teams must be led by at least one faculty member.
  • Bass Connections teams are expected to meet at least weekly.
  • Proposed research must be capable of proceeding remotely if necessitated. Travel should not be included as a critical element of the team’s work. 
  • Projects may start this summer or this fall.
  • Bass Connections typically supports year-long projects but we will also consider proposals for shorter, intensive projects. 

Research questions may include, but are not limited to

  • How can we improve our capacity to predict, prevent and respond to future emerging viruses?
  • Which of the changes introduced to medical practice and the provision of healthcare should we maintain after this initial wave of the pandemic? How should we adapt policy to facilitate such longer-term changes?
  • How has physical distancing and sheltering at home affected the mental health of various populations, with what long-term mental health implications? 
  • What can we learn from the very different responses of local, subnational and national governments to the pandemic? Or from the varying strategies of private firms or NGOs?
  • What behavioral, economic and social methods best incentivize different populations to practice preventive measures such as physical distancing, wearing masks, etc. in the short and long terms?
  • What are possible paths forward for the U.S. and/or global economy? Which economic relief measures have had the greatest impact on the economy? How might COVID-19 reshape global trade patterns and globalization?
  • What is the global impact of COVID-19? How has the pandemic affected migration patterns and the stance of governments towards immigrants? Are governments capitalizing on this opportunity to restrict human rights and civil society?
  • How has the closure of schools affected the academic progress and social and emotional well-being of children, as well as the circumstances of working parents? How will school systems help students catch up, recognizing that the move to online learning may have increased existing achievement disparities?
  • How can congregate communities such as nursing homes, prisons, deportation facilities and homeless shelters slow the spread of COVID-19 and better prepare for future pandemics?
  • How might we harness the power of big data to better predict and trace disease outbreaks, while also protecting individual privacy?
  • How can we rapidly expand access to testing, and how do we ensure that testing reaches under-served communities and communities more averse to engaging with authorities?
  • What might we learn from the current reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that might inform a greener future as society returns to more normal economic activity? What could a green stimulus look like? How could COVID-19 impact the clean energy transition?
  • What have we learned from the ethical and moral dilemmas faced by healthcare providers and first-responders in allocating scare resource as we prepare for the next pandemic?

Submission Instructions

Please read the full submission guidelines and use the proposal template (Word document) to prepare your proposal. Proposals should be submitted in a single document to laura.howes@duke.edu by June 15, 2020 for priority consideration. 

We aim to make expedient decisions for time-sensitive, compelling projects. Thereafter, we will have a rolling deadline through June 30, 2020. Please contact Laura Howes, Director of Bass Connections at laura.howes@duke.edu with questions.

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