Duke University’s commitment to interdisciplinary research and teaching is a signature part of the university’s identity and mission. Duke has been growing a portfolio of innovation in interdisciplinary studies and education for more than 20 years. In the 2006 university strategic plan (Making a Difference), the focus on “inquiry across disciplines” positioned Duke to have a major impact on the nature of education in a research university.

Following Making a Difference, Duke focused its development of an infrastructure for interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching and practice on six university-wide institutes and their relationships with Duke’s ten schools. These institutes have distinguished themselves by incubating some of Duke’s most exciting collaborative research and teaching initiatives, even while catalyzing Duke’s overarching goal of placing knowledge in service to society. More recently, four university-wide initiatives have been formed as a way to incubate faculty research and education in areas that have the potential to grow into future university institutes.

Recognizing the strength of Duke’s faculty in collaborating to address complex societal issues, the question becomes, how can we fully embed this powerful form of understanding in the educational experience of our students, and how can we expose students to a multifaceted understanding of the complex challenges of our time?  

The goal of Bass Connections is to achieve genuine interdisciplinary education, which provides 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. 

Duke is dedicated to fostering an educational environment that equips students to grasp the multiple dimensions of complex problems such as environmental pollution, economic competitiveness, human health and cultural understanding. Bass Connections is fundamental to that goal, and to Duke’s future.