Bridging Differences: A Day of Research-Based Strategies for Dialogue and Understanding


Recent surveys suggest that the divides among Americans are greater than ever. The resulting hostility and distrust undermines our emotional well-being, the quality of our relationships, and the integrity of our institutions.

This event will offer research-based strategies for bridging a wide range of differences--in our relationships, in our communities, and in our country. Much of the program will highlight practical skills and strategies for fostering positive dialogue, relationships, and understanding across divides, drawing on insights from research and lessons learned from trailblazing programs.

Speakers will include researchers who have studied the causes of polarization and effective strategies for addressing it; program leaders who have developed evidence-based techniques for bridging differences; and exemplary individuals whose stories offer powerful illustrations of what it looks like when members of different, sometimes opposing, groups come together and treat each other with greater respect and humanity.

Participants will walk away with a set of strategies and skills—having practiced a few of them at the event itself—that they can integrate into their work and lives. It will be useful to anyone looking for more effective ways to deal with conflict and division, whether at home or at work, in schools or public life. It will have special relevance to people leading organizations explicitly devoted to bridging differences and to practitioners--educators, faith leaders, health professionals, civic leaders--whose roles often require that they help others negotiate their differences.

This event is part of the Greater Good Science Center's Bridging Differences initiative. Event co-produced with NationSwell.

Attend in Person or Via Live Webcast!

  • 8:30-9:00 AM

    Registration + Coffee/Refreshments

  • 9:00-10:30

    Why Are We Polarized and Why Does It Matter?

    Short talks that identify the roots of our divisions and provide inspiration and hope for overcoming them.

  • 10:30-11:00

    BREAK

  • 11:00-12:30 PM

    Keys to Bridging Differences

    Leaders of innovative programs share lessons for bridging differences that they’ve taken away from their work, and participants explore how to apply these principles to their own lives.

  • 12:30-2:00

    LUNCH (provided)

    Participants will have the option to engage in a bridge building experience over lunch.

  • 2:00-3:30

    Breakouts

    Several workshops offer first-hand experiences of bridge-building programs and activities.

  • 3:30-4:00

    BREAK

  • 4:00-5:00

    From Ideas to Action

    A closing session that encourages participants to consider how they might apply the lessons they’ve learned throughout the day—and inspires them to get started.

  • Rev. Jennifer Bailey

    Rev. Jennifer Bailey

    Named one of 15 Faith Leaders to Watch by the Center for American Progress, Rev. Jennifer Bailey is an ordained minister, public theologian, and emerging national leader in multi-faith movement for justice.

    She is the founder and executive director of the Faith Matters Network, a Womanist-led organization equipping community organizers, faith leaders, and activists with resources for connection, spiritual sustainability, and accompaniment. Reverend Bailey comes to this work with nearly a decade of experience at nonprofits combatting intergenerational poverty.

    She is the co-founder of The People’s Supper. Since January 2017, The People’s Supper has hosted over 1,400 suppers in 121 communities nationwide focusing on bringing people together to engage constructively on issues affecting their communities. Along the way, the project has teamed up with ordinary citizens, schools, workplaces, faith communities, and neighborhood organizations to create space of collective healing over nourishing meals and conversation.

    An Ashoka Fellow, On Being Fellow and Truman Scholar, Reverend Bailey is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church—the first historically black Protestant denomination in the world.

  • Jennifer Eberhardt

    Jennifer Eberhardt

    A social psychologist at Stanford University and a recipient of the 2014 MacArthur 'Genius' Grant, Dr. Jennifer L. Eberhardt studies the consequences of the psychological association between race and crime. As one of the world’s leading experts on unconscious racial bias, her innovative experiments show how racial bias can lead to disparities in education, employment, housing, and the criminal justice system.

    Dr. Eberhardt is fascinated by the ways ingrained stereotypes can affect our visual perception, attention, memory, and behavior. Through interdisciplinary collaborations, unprecedented access to data, and a wide-ranging array of methods—from laboratory studies to novel field experiments—Dr. Eberhardt has revealed the startling and often dispiriting extent to which racial imagery and judgments take root in our brains, suffuse our culture and society, and shape actions and outcomes within the criminal justice system.

    Dr. Eberhardt is the author of the popular book Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do. She has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was named one of Foreign Policy‘s 100 Leading Global Thinkers. She also is co-founder and co-director of SPARQ (Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions), a Stanford Center that brings together researchers and practitioners to address significant social problems.

  • Eboo Patel

    Eboo Patel

    Eboo Patel is the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a non-profit organization that is working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm in America. He is the author of four books and dozens of articles, has spoken on more than 150 campuses, and served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council.

    A key figure on issues of religious diversity and democracy, Eboo was named one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report in 2009. He is the author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation; Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America; Interfaith Leadership: A Primer; and Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise. He also publishes a regular blog for Inside Higher Ed, called "Conversations on Diversity."

    Eboo holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. He has been awarded the Louisville Grawemeyer Prize in Religion, the Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize, the El Hibri Peace Education Prize, the Council of Independent Colleges Academic Leadership Award, along with honorary degrees from 15 colleges.

    Eboo lives in Chicago with his wife, Shehnaz, and two young sons. He is a die-hard fan of Notre Dame Football, Wilco, and really good coffee.

  • Amanda Ripley

    Amanda Ripley

    Amanda Ripley is a contributing writer at the Atlantic and a senior fellow at the Emerson Collective. She is the author of The Smartest Kids in the World—and How They Got That Way, a New York Times bestseller. Her first book, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes—and Why, was published in 15 countries and turned into a PBS documentary.

    In her books and magazine writing, Amanda explores the gap between public policy and human behavior. For Time and the Atlantic, she has written cover stories on surviving hurricanes and plane crashes, the primacy of sports in American high schools, and the science of motivating children. She is currently working on book and magazine projects about the lure of toxic conflicts—and how some people manage to break free from their spell.

    Amanda’s work has also appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, Politico and the Times of London. Her stories helped Time win two National Magazine Awards. To discuss her writing, Amanda has appeared on ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX News and NPR. She has spoken at the Pentagon, the U.S. Senate, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as conferences on leadership, public policy and education.

    Before joining Time, Amanda covered Capitol Hill for Congressional Quarterly and courts and crime for Washington City Paper. She graduated from Cornell University. Amanda currently lives in Washington, D.C., where she spends her free time parenting, biking and coaching a boys’ soccer team.

The Oakland Scottish Rite Center (OSRC) is located at 1547 Lakeside Drive, across from Oakland's Lake Merrit, convenient to public transportation, as well as several parking options. 

Public Transportation

The OSRC is accessible via the BART. The closest stations to the venue are: 

  • Lake Merritt Station (800 Madison St, Oakland, CA, 0.4 miles from OSRC)
  • 19th Street Station (1900 Broadway, Oakland, CA, 0.6 miles from OSRC)
  • 12th Street Station (1245 Broadway, Oakland, CA, 0.6 miles from OSRC)

Parking

Parking near the OSRC is limited to paid parking garages and two-hour street parking. We encourage attendees to carpool or take public transport. The closest parking options near the OSRC include:

  • Alcopark Parking Garage, 165 13th St, Oakland, CA
  • Oakland Museum of California Parking Structure, 1000 Oak St, Oakland, CA Madison Street Parking Lot, 1309 Madison St., Oakland, CA
  • Madison Street Parking Lot 2, 1506 Madison St, Oakland, CA
  • 250 12th Street Parking Lot
  • 14th Street Parking, 250 14th St, Oakland, CA
  • Douglas Parking, 15th St, Oakland, C

These are just a few of many lots in the area. See Parkopedia for a more extensive list.

If you can’t make it to the San Francisco Bay Area, never fear: This event will be webcast live!

With the webcast, you’ll watch real-time video of the event, including slides, and be able to submit questions to the presenters online—all from the comfort of your home, office, or anywhere with a reliable Internet connection.

You will be emailed prior to the event with a login and password for the webcast.

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