Bass Connections is named in honor of Anne T. and Robert M. Bass, who launched Bass Connections through a $50 million gift, including a generous $25 million matching gift challenge. The Basses have generously supported Duke for many decades, and Anne was a co-chair of the Duke Forward campaign.

By investing in Bass Connections, our alumni and friends play a vital role both in building this transformative program to its full potential and helping to set Duke apart among top universities. And through the Bass Challenge, which will match one dollar for every two dollars you contribute (a 1:2 match) of all endowment or expendable gifts to the program from $100,000 and up, you can increase the impact of your gift dramatically.

The following are examples of areas to which donor support can be directed. For more information, please visit Duke Forward.

General Program Support

Having sufficient central funds that can be deployed flexibly will be crucial to sustaining and growing the program over time. Gifts to support the general program at all levels will help to support the themes and project teams, educational innovations, and faculty and student participants.


The goal of Bass Connections is to achieve genuine interdisciplinary education at Duke, with a careful balance of the depth of knowledge needed to understand a problem from one discipline and the breadth across several disciplines needed to understand that problem in all its complexity. There are currently five themes, aligned with five of Duke’s top interdisciplinary institutes and initiatives, around which the activities of Bass Connections are organized:

Each of the themes runs project teams, interdisciplinary courses, co-curricular activities and faculty-mentored student research experiences. The long-term sustainability of Bass Connections requires that each theme be endowed to support a range of components, including faculty, students and project teams.

Project Teams

In each of the five themes, interdisciplinary project teams connect students and faculty throughout campus to tackle compelling challenges. Teams spend around a year, sometimes longer, working together, traveling to collect data or meet with collaborators and immersing themselves in their question or problem. Team members experience the complexity of global, societal problems in their real-world form, the value of integrating areas of specialized knowledge and the imperative of teamwork to forge solutions to the most pressing problems of the day.


Bass Connections is engaging faculty and students from all 10 of Duke’s schools for a rich interdisciplinary experience. One project may have team members—faculty, graduate students and undergraduates—from Trinity, Sanford, Nicholas, Medicine and Divinity, for example, while another project may have team members from Nursing, Law, Fuqua, Pratt and the Graduate School. Gifts can support any of Duke’s 10 schools to enable a broad cohort of students and faculty to participate in the project teams and educational offerings across all themes of Bass Connections.


Through Bass Connections students have opportunities to apply coursework to a complex societal challenge, engage in collaborative inquiry and problem-solving, deepen grasp of an issue of interest, learn and apply research skills in a small group setting, engage with communities and organizations outside Duke, explore career paths and add heft to their resumes. And master’s and PhD students play an essential role in Bass Connections by bringing disciplinary expertise and a keen interest in mentoring undergraduates.


Faculty members say they participate in Bass Connections to start a new research project, mentor students in a different way, be part of something innovative, participate in an interdisciplinary team and expand their professional network. They also report benefiting in a range of ways including furthering their research, gaining leadership experience, providing service to the external community and connecting with other faculty. Gifts to support faculty will provide flexible funding to allow for greater numbers of faculty to participate in Bass Connections for a semester, a year, a project team or beyond.