Duke University has announced a $50 million gift from Anne T. and Robert M. Bass to launch an initiative to encourage students and faculty to collaborate across traditional academic boundaries.
The gift will fund the Bass Connections initiative, which aims to create new educational pathways for Duke's undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to develop the broad expertise and perspective needed to address complex societal problems. Building on earlier multidisciplinary efforts at the university, the initiative will focus initially on five areas: brain and society, education and human development, energy, global health, and information, society, and culture. The university will allocate half the gift to a matching program to encourage additional support from others.
The Basses have supported the university for two decades, most notably through the Bass Program for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and the FOCUS program, which offers integrated courses developed around interdisciplinary themes. Anne Bass has been a Duke trustee since 2003 and is one of three co-chairs of the $3.25 billion Duke Forward campaign.
"Because Bass Connections will involve students and faculty at all ten Duke schools, it will have a transformative impact on our entire campus," said Duke University president Richard H. Brodhead. "Students will pursue new educational pathways and join with faculty on interdisciplinary teams to apply their knowledge and skills to urgent social challenges. Simultaneously, Bass Connections will highlight the importance of disciplinary approaches for enabling meaningful collaboration."