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 Giving to Duke.

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.

Summer Research Experiences

Bass Connections offers an expanding number of opportunities for students to engage in interdisciplinary, team-based research over the summer. For undergraduates, these programs serve as a gateway into more in-depth research experiences and provide relevant experience for their resumes. For graduate students, who often participate as project managers, these summer experiences develop leadership and management skills. The projects, which typically have an applied element, also further a faculty member’s research or benefit a community partner.

Curricular Innovations

In addition to research experiences, Bass Connections is integrating the model of interdisciplinary, team-based inquiry around societal challenges into the curriculum by supporting the development or redesign of a growing number of courses. Courses that are affiliated with Bass Connections enable students to experience the Bass Connections model of education during one semester. These courses may serve as a gateway into a research experience, or an avenue for students to continue pursuing a certain style of learning and a line of inquiry following a research experience. Regardless, these courses help students develop critical teamwork and applied learning skills.