Special Call for Projects Related to International Geopolitics and Humanitarian Crises in the Middle East and Beyond

May 21, 2024

Proposals due July 12 at 5 p.m.

In partnership with the Provost’s Initiative on the Middle East, Bass Connections is now accepting proposals for year-long projects that engage students in the exploration of the humanitarian implications of geopolitical conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere across the globe.

Faculty interested in proposing a project should read the full submission guidelines and submit a proposal by Friday, July 12 at 5 p.m.

Proposed projects should begin in Fall 2024. Project funding typically ranges from $10,000 to $25,000. Maximum funding is $40,000.

Given the fast ramp-up for these projects, we encourage all teams to develop a robust project management plan, including using a portion of the budget to fund an advanced graduate student, research associate or postdoc. We will help teams that do not have access to a project manager recruit an appropriate project manager in the form of a postdoc, research project manager or advanced doctoral student. 

Please note: This RFP is only for 2024-2025 projects related to international geopolitics and humanitarian crises in the Middle East, eastern Europe and elsewhere. Our next general call for Bass Connections project proposals will be in August 2024.


Bass Connections brings together faculty, postdocs, graduate/professional students, undergraduates and community partners to tackle complex societal challenges in interdisciplinary research teams. The six interdisciplinary themes of Bass Connections support research related to persistent societal challenges such as health inequities, race and social justice, 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 four “pop-up” themes focused on hurricane recovery and resilienceimmigration; the COVID-19 pandemic; and mechanisms to strengthen democracyThis call is for project proposals focused on research related to the humanitarian implications of geopolitical conflicts in the Middle East, eastern Europe and elsewhere.

International Geopolitics and Humanitarian Crises

The Israel-Hamas war has led to a devastating humanitarian crisis and brought profound human suffering to Israelis and Palestinians. From communities on the ground to the classroom, the conflict has sparked fierce debate about the complexities of international geopolitics and regional dynamics in the Middle East, the intricate interplay of historical, political, socioeconomic and environmental factors in shaping and exacerbating conflict, and the role of local and international actors in mitigating suffering and promoting peace.

The October 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the ensuing Israel-Hamas war is not the only current conflict that has sparked a humanitarian emergency. According to the U.N., nearly 300 million people worldwide will need humanitarian assistance in 2024 due to conflicts, climate emergencies and other drivers. Currently, conflicts in Ukraine, Sudan, the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, Syria and elsewhere have led to mass displacement, widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, catastrophic damage to food systems, spreading of communicable diseases, and lasting psychological damage.

In partnership with the Provost’s Initiative on the Middle East, we invite proposals for year-long projects that seek to investigate topics related to geopolitical conflict and humanitarian crises in the Middle East and beyond.

Research questions may include, but are not limited to:

  • How can we foster greater understanding of the complex historical, political, social, economic and/or environmental factors that underlie geopolitical conflicts?
  • What are the most effective strategies for delivering humanitarian assistance in conflict zones to address issues such as human displacement, food and water insecurity, health care needs, and destruction to infrastructure?
  • What are the psychological impacts of conflict and humanitarian crises on affected populations, and how does such trauma impact human development? How can psychosocial support and mental health services be integrated most effectively into humanitarian responses?
  • What factors shape public perceptions about geopolitical conflicts and how do these factors influence decision-making processes and conflict dynamics?
  • How does art help us grapple with the political, historical and ethical dilemmas inherent to geopolitical conflict (e.g., power, justice, human rights, violence, legacies of colonialism)? What are the roles that the narrative and creative arts can play in times of conflict (e.g., documentation, witnessing, protest, education, propaganda)?
  • What are the optimal roles for the United States, United Nations, NGOs and other international actors in humanitarian assistance policy formulation and implementation?
  • How can emerging technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, remote sensing, mHealth) be leveraged to improve the efficiency, accountability and effectiveness of humanitarian responses?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities for post-conflict reconstruction, reconciliation and peacebuilding, and what strategies have proved most successful in promoting sustainable peace in the aftermath of geopolitical conflicts?
  • How can communities meet the psychological and educational needs of children impacted by war?

Submission Instructions

The deadline for proposals is Friday, July 12, 2024, at 5 p.m.

All proposals must be submitted through the online proposal form. You may work directly within the online form and save and return to the form as you work. You may also preview the proposal questions and draft your responses using the following Word template. 

Interested faculty, particularly those who have never led a Bass Connections team, are encouraged to contact a Bass Connections theme leader or Laura Howes, assistant vice provost of interdisciplinary studies and Bass Connections, with questions or to discuss potential ideas. Or drop in at any time to one of our informal Zoom office hours (https://duke.zoom.us/j/96527747696):

  • June 4 from 11:00-12:00
  • June 20 from 10:00-11:00

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