Bass Connections Project Proposals [Restricted to Duke Faculty and Grad Students Only]

Funding Agency:
Duke University

Bass Connections provides funding to support team-based research projects that engage faculty, undergraduates, and graduate/professional students in interdisciplinary exploration of big, unanswered questions about major societal challenges. This call for proposals is for project teams that will begin in Summer or Fall 2018.

For some faculty, Bass Connections funds a pilot research project that lays the groundwork for external grant proposals. For other faculty, Bass Connections offers an innovative teaching model and an opportunity to mentor students in a small group atmosphere. For still other faculty, Bass Connections is an opportunity to initiate or deepen engagement with a community organization or other collaborators outside of Duke who can provide input into the construction of research questions and translate research findings into action.

Bass Connections project teams seek to establish three core connections:

  1. between the academy and the broader world
  2. across areas of disciplinary expertise
  3. across learner levels

Project teams are expected to be more than a collection of individuals working in parallel. Instead, they should foster dynamic collaboration in which all members are exposed to the diverse aspects of each project, and work together toward shared goals.

A major educational goal of the program is to provide students and faculty the opportunity to struggle collectively with a real, complex problem and produce meaningful deliverables. The chosen issue should have a scale and scope large enough so the solution will make a significant impact and yet not be so large as to be overwhelming. Deliverable products may take several forms, including published reports and articles, curated exhibitions, datasets to spur further research, marketable services or commodities, and strategic solutions for community needs.

Projects that are situated in an organizational setting or a community context, or that have an external client element, offer rewarding challenges and give students a glimpse into the world of professional practice.


Deadline: Nov. 3, 2017

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

As in past years, projects may be proposed in relation to one of the five themes of Bass Connections. Faculty may apply to more than one theme if their project aligns with the goals of multiple themes, but they must make a case for these connections in the proposal.

Brain & Society

Education & Human Development

Energy & Environment (Note: the Energy theme has been renamed to reflect the broadening scope of its activities, which have been further enabled by several gifts. Please see below for special funding opportunities for this theme.)

Global Health (Note: the Global Health theme also encourages proposals related to U.S. healthdisparities)

Information, Society & Culture (Note: faculty applying to this theme, or another theme in conjunction with this theme, are encouraged to consider proposing a project team that links with a summer Data+ team. Faculty interested in this option do not need to submit a separate proposal to Data+ but should explain how the Bass Connections project team and the Data+ team will be integrated. For more information about Data+, and ideas for connecting Data+ with a Bass Connections project team, contact Paul Bendich, Director of Data+.)

New Opportunity – Bass Connections Open

Faculty may now propose a project that meets the three core connections of Bass Connections – but does not align with one of the five themes – by applying through the open channel.

Faculty contemplating this option should keep in mind that the current five themes each cover a great deal of ground. You cannot apply to both the open channel and a theme (i.e., this is an exclusive option). In addition to the selection criteria noted below, proposals submitted through this channel will also be judged with regard to how creatively they explore new topics beyond the current theme areas.

Projects selected through this channel may still be administered by one of the existing themes.

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may be submitted by any faculty member. Graduate students, postdocs, and trainees/fellows may also propose projects, but all projects must have at least one faculty team leader.



Amount Description

Budgets typically range from $5,000 to $25,000. Generally speaking, projects that involve summer funding for student work, graduate student support for project management roles, international travel, and/or special research materials/equipment tend toward the higher range.

Funding Type



Grad/Prof Students
Post Doctoral Fellows


Arts & Humanities
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Medical - Basic Science
Social Sciences

External Deadline

November 3, 2017