The Greater Good Science Center's Bridging Differences initiative mixes science and storytelling to help address one of the most urgent issues of our time: political and cultural polarization.
Public discourse in our nation is at a breaking point. Recent surveys suggest that the ideological 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 democratic institutions.
Fortunately, social science research from the past several decades has been identifying whether, how, and under what circumstances people from different groups can better understand and get along with one another.
Inspired by both cutting-edge research and trailblazing practice, the Greater Good Science Center is excited to partner with the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust and NationSwell on a new, two-year initiative—Bridging Differences—that is highlighting and disseminating the key research-based principles for fostering positive intergroup relationships. The project will also call attention to common themes, best practices, and case studies from leading programs that illuminate the research findings.
Through articles, videos (produced in partnership with NationSwell), podcasts, and other resources, Bridging Differences will highlight the skills and social conditions that are critical to reducing polarization and promoting more constructive dialogue. To ensure a multiplier effect to this work, the initiative aims to reach the “gatekeepers” on the front lines of efforts to bridge divides between various groups. This includes not only mediators and people leading organizations exclusively devoted to cross-group understanding but also K-12 educators, local politicians, workplace managers, and leaders of faith-based groups and other community-based organizations.
To make the insights from Bridging Differences even more actionable, the GGSC will ultimately create an online training to teach the key strategies and tactics identified through the initiative. In the meantime, we’re publishing articles and other resources that can help all of us navigate the differences that don’t need to divide us.
- Bridging Differences Defined: Our summary of the science suggesting why and how to bridge differences.
- Bridging Differences Articles: Check out our coverage of the science and practice of bridging, including articles about cutting-edge research and profiles of trailblazing programs.
Do you work to help people or groups bridge their differences? Please share your story and let us know how we can help.