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. The day will feature talks by john powell of UC Berkeley's Othering and Belonging Institute; Stanford psychologist and Macarthur "Genius Grant" winner Jennifer Eberhardt; Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core; Emile Bruneau, director of the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab at the University of Pennsylvania; Robb Willer of Stanford's Polarization and Social Change Lab.; best-selling author and journalist Amanda Ripley; and other researchers, changemakers, and thinkers.

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, in partnership with the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust.

Attend in Person or Via Live Webcast! 20% discount for GGSC members. Learn more here

If you have questions about whether or not this day is a fit for your work and goals, email us at

  • 8:30-9:00 AM


  • 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


  • 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: Bridging in Practice

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

  • 3:30-4:00


  • 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.

  • Joan Blades

    Joan Blades

    Joan Blades is a co-founder of an open source effort to build respectful connections across ideological, cultural and party lines while embracing our core-shared values. When we care about each other we work to find ways to meet each other’s needs. Also a co-founder of and, she is a co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace and The Motherhood Manifesto. A mediator (attorney) by training and inclination, she is a true believer in the power of citizens and our need for respectful discourse while embracing our core shared values.

  • Emile Bruneau

    Emile Bruneau

    Dr. Emile Bruneau is director of the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on characterizing the psychological and cognitive processes that drive intergroup conflict and hostility, and building interventions that circumvent these processes and promote peace.

  • 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.

  • Andrew Hanauer

    Andrew Hanauer

    Andrew Hanauer is the President and CEO of the One America Movement, an organization founded by faith and community leaders in the aftermath of the 2016 election to fight polarization. Under Andrew’s leadership, One America has launched projects that bring Americans together across divides to address race relations, opioids, poverty and religious differences across the country, from Utah, to Oklahoma, to California, to West Virginia, to some of our nation’s largest cities. In addition to running projects that unite Americans across divides, One America trains religious leaders on the dynamics of polarization and division.

    Under Andrew’s leadership, One America has built from scratch a board and leadership that spans the political, racial and religious spectrum, including senior leaders from national Muslim, Jewish and Evangelical Christian institutions, including the Southern Baptist Convention, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Wheaton College, Repair the World, American Jewish World Service, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and from the Cato Institute, Black Lives Matter, the George W. Bush Administration, Silicon Valley and more.

    Andrew is a frequent public speaker at houses of worship of all kinds, and has spoken at the United Nations, the National Press Club and Congressional briefings. His work has been published or featured by The Washington Post, National Public Radio, Salon, The Times of Israel, Voice of America, the Christian Citizen and media outlets across the US and abroad.

    Andrew holds a B.A. in History from Dartmouth College and a Master’s in International Studies from the University of San Francisco. He is a Deacon at his church, served on his Mayor’s transition team and on the Steering Committee of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition and is a proud husband and proud father of three.

  • Katie Hyten

    Katie Hyten

    Katie is the Co-Executive Director of Essential Partners, an organization that equips people to live and work better together in community by building trust and understanding across differences. She has also been a Visiting Fellow and Lecturer at Tufts University where she developed and co-taught a course entitled “Dialogue, Identity, and Civic Action. Prior to joining Essential Partners, Katie helped develop and manage the first university-wide interreligious institute at Pepperdine University and served as a mediator and independent consultant in conflict resolution processes. She was awarded Harvard’s Program on Negotiation (PON) Summer Fellowship to support her research and work with Search for Common Ground in Lebanon. Katie completed her master's degree in international negotiation and conflict resolution at Tufts University's Fletcher School, where her research addressed foreign policy in religious conflicts.

  • Steven Olikara

    Steven Olikara

    Steven Olikara (@StevenOlikara) is a political entrepreneur, and Founder & President of Millennial Action Project (MAP), the largest nonpartisan organization of millennial lawmakers in the U.S. Working with over 800 elected leaders in Congress and state legislatures, MAP is building a new generation of leadership to transcend the partisan divide and strengthen our democracy. A nationally-recognized political commentator, Steven has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC News, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, and other national outlets. An avid musician, he is also co-author of the new book, JFK: The Last Speech, on the role of artists in democracy.

    Previously, Steven advised two multi-platinum recording artists on youth empowerment and sustainable energy initiatives, including Akon Lighting Africa which electrified over 1 million homes in Africa with solar power. Steven also served as Truman Fellow at the World Bank where he focused on environmental protection. He has been a featured speaker at venues such as the Aspen Ideas Festival, the White House, Harvard’s Institute of Politics, SXSW, and the United Nations. He serves on numerous Boards and Commissions focused on advancing human rights, democracy, and national service.

    Steven has been named a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum, a Forbes 30 Under 30 in Law & Policy, an Aspen Institute Ideas Scholar, and one of the Most Influential Leaders Under 40 by Washington Life magazine. A proud Wisconsinite, Steven graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a Udall and Truman Scholar, the nation’s highest undergraduate honor for public service leadership.

  • 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.

  • john powell

    john powell

    john a. powell is Director of the Othering and Belonging Institute and Professor of Law, African American, and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He was previously the Executive Director at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University, and prior to that, the founder and director of the Institute for Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. john formerly served as the National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He is a co-founder of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the boards of several national and international organizations. john led the development of an “opportunity-based” model that connects affordable housing to education, health, health care, and employment and is well-known for his work developing the frameworks of “targeted universalism” and “othering and belonging” to effect equity-based interventions. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University. His latest book is Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.

  • 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.

  • Robb Willer

    Robb Willer

    Robb Willer is a professor of sociology, psychology and organizational behavior at Stanford University and the director of the Polarization and Social Change Lab. His research shows how moral values, typically a source of ideological division, can also be used to bring people together. His research has investigated various topics, including economic inequality, racial prejudice, masculine overcompensation and Americans’ views of climate change. Willer's writing has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Vox, including his op-ed “The Secret to Political Persuasion.”

  • Prescriptions for a Healthier Democracy

  • 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 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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