About Bass Connections

Companies, governments and organizations are looking for graduates with training and experience tackling complex issues. Through Bass Connections, Duke is channeling its unique culture of collaboration, ambitious entrepreneurial spirit and established record of applying classroom learning to pressing global problems, to create a distinctive new model for education.

Bass Connections is a university-wide initiative launched by a $50 million gift from Anne and Robert Bass. Bass Connections provides both graduate and undergraduate students with greater exposure to inquiry across the disciplines, partnership with unlikely fellow thinkers, sustained mentorship in teams and the chance to experience the intersections of the academy and the broader world.


To create a distinctive new model for education, predicated on collaborative and interdisciplinary inquiry, that actively engages students in the exploration of big, unanswered questions about major societal challenges


To elevate the importance of exploring societal and cultural challenges by:

  • Engaging faculty, undergraduate students, graduate/professional students and trainees in teamwork
  • Integrating disciplinary approaches and professional practice
  • Applying knowledge, research and skills in problem-solving, with engagement from community partners


  1. Students and trainees at all levels gain problem-centered expertise and team-oriented skills and then use them to pursue research across disciplines that explore societal and cultural challenges.
  2. Faculty members integrate interdisciplinary education, research and outreach to explore societal and cultural challenges within specific themes. 
  3. Themes support and administer project teams and develop curricular pathways into, through and beyond teams, fostering cohesive, problem-centered education for students and trainees.
  4. Duke administration, departments, schools and institutes make infrastructure and programmatic changes that facilitate, sustain and promote the above objectives.


The Bass Connections thematic areas are aligned with five of Duke’s university-wide interdisciplinary institutes and initiatives.


Duke’s commitment to interdisciplinary research and teaching is a signature part of the university’s identity and mission.

Global Reach

Knowing that many challenges take place in villages, hospitals and schools around the world, many projects have a global reach.

Program Evaluation

An annual evaluation helps Bass Connections leadership to improve the program and to understand its impact on students, faculty and the societal issues addressed through the projects.

Annual Reports