Bridging Differences in Higher Education Learning Fellowship

The Bridging Differences in Higher Education Learning Fellowship is an eight-month facilitated virtual learning community, hosted by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center (GGSC). The experience centers on the GGSC’s Bridging Differences free online course, giving participants a common reference point that is based on science.

The Learning Fellowship engages leaders in higher education who want to foster more constructive dialogue and understanding across group lines on college campuses in the United States, including lines of race, religious faith, politics, or beyond. Participants learn from each other at the same time that they gain research-based skills and insights from the GGSC’s online course and companion playbook. Over eight months together, they connect around the successes, challenges, and questions that come up for them as they try to bridge differences on their campus. There is no cost to participate in the Learning Fellowship, nor does it provide recipients with any financial support.

Facilitated by Juliana Tafur, the GGSC’s Bridging Differences Program Director, and Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith, GGSC Senior Fellow and the co-instructor of the Bridging Differences course, the Learning Fellowship is divided into three separate cohorts:

1. The Campus Cohort includes 100 leaders from individual colleges and universities across the United States—faculty, administrators, staff, or students. This is designed as an introductory cohort for campus leaders interested in learning key principles and skills for bridging differences and how they can be applied to their campus, whether inside the classroom or across the campus at large. Participants do not need to have prior experience with bridge-building work, though ideally they have ideas for how they might bring what they learn from the cohort back to their campus.

2. The Organizational Cohort is for representatives from up to 10 organizations that work to bridge differences across at least five different college campuses. Members of this cohort will have more experience supporting cross-group dialogue and other bridge-building efforts in the context of higher education. Through more regular discussions with one another, they will identify challenges facing their field, sharpen their skills and expertise, support one another as they address complicated issues, and unite around common goals to advance their work.

3. The Project-Based Cohort is for up to 25 campus leaders who plan to launch or refine a specific initiative focused on bridging differences on their campus in the current academic year. This may include the syllabus of a course they are developing or revamping; a campus-wide initiative focused on curricular, co-curricular, or extracurricular activities; and/or professional development for faculty. Most important is that their participation be linked to a specific project that would benefit from ongoing support from the GGSC and their peers in the cohort.

More than 200 campus leaders—faculty, staff, and administrators—have participated in the Learning Fellowship so far, along with representatives of 13 leading organizations working to bridge differences on college campuses nationwide.

Previous participants have praised the practical skills and community they gained from the Fellowship. Here’s what some of them have said about it:

“A tremendous opportunity to set the bar high for bridging differences and explore how it can be done with a plethora of tools and practical strategies.”

“Thank you for creating and holding space for professionals in the country and around the world to engage in conversations about bridging differences. I’d love to see this practice reach more participants. Much appreciated!”

“The best part, by far, were the discussions with colleagues around the U.S. ... Their enthusiasm for this work was infectious and exciting to me.”

This Learning Fellowship program is supported by a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, which supports the GGSC’s Bridging Differences in Higher Education project.

More details about the Fellowship and all three cohorts are provided below.

  1. Learning Objectives
  2. Campus & Organizational Cohorts
  3. Project-Based Cohort
  4. About the Facilitators
  5. Application & Eligibility
  6. Timeline

Learning Objectives

Participants in all three cohorts will:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of science-based strategies to bridge differences
  • Explore how these strategies can be applied in different settings on college campuses
  • Hone specific skills that can support efforts to bridge differences on and across college campuses
  • Connect with other leaders who are doing this work in a similar context, identifying new collaborators and allies
  • For the Organizational Cohort: Learn different approaches to key questions and challenges facing their field, coalescing around a set of best practices and goals

Campus & Organizational Cohorts

Members of the Campus and Organizational Cohorts will meet on monthly 90-minute Zoom calls for eight months. The focus of each monthly session will center on one of the eight modules in the Bridging Differences online course. Participants will progress through the course together, sharing ideas for how to apply the lessons from the course to their work on campuses and helping one another work through the challenges and questions that might come up for them as they do this work.

Each facilitated monthly session will include:

  • An opening grounding exercise
  • An overview of the science covered in that month’s course module
  • A presentation from a leading practitioner working to bridge differences on college campuses, explaining how they use the skill covered by that month’s course module
  • Two small-group breakout discussions where participants can discuss their own experiences with that month’s content and their ideas for applying it to their work moving forward
  • All-group discussions where they can hear from the rest of their peers, with members of the Organizational Cohort joining the Campus Cohort

In their small-group breakout discussions, members of the Organizational Cohort will connect with peers also working across multiple college campuses. Through their discussions, they will share their goals and motivations for doing their work, explore challenging questions for their field, and identify best practices that they would like to share and spread. In the process, they will strengthen relationships with key partners and look for ways to collectively advance their field.

Additionally, members of both cohorts will have the opportunity to join four one-hour skill-building sessions on Zoom. In these sessions, expert speakers will share insights and advice on practical issues that participants should consider as they develop or run bridge-building programs, including issues like recruitment, getting buy-in from campus stakeholders, and measurement and evaluation.

Project-Based Cohort

The Project-Based Cohort will be geared more specifically to campus leaders who plan to launch or refine a specific initiative focused on bridging differences on their campus in the current academic year. As a result, membership in the Project-Based Cohort will be limited to just 25 members to enable more concentrated and in-depth support of their projects. These 25 members will be divided into five smaller “teams” of five.

The structure of the Project-Based Cohort will include:

  • A kick-off 90-minute Zoom call with the full cohort
  • Facilitated monthly one-hour Zoom calls for each team of five, where they can update one another on their project, discuss recent challenges or insights, and receive feedback and suggestions
  • Four subsequent facilitated 90-minute Zoom calls for the entire cohort, where they will learn from expert speakers, hear updates and give feedback on projects outside of their team
  • Before the final meeting, participants will be prompted to write and share a brief summary of their project’s results and key lessons learned, which will be discussed at the final session

About the Facilitators

The Project-Based cohort and the Campus and Organizational Cohorts are facilitated are facilitated by Bridging Differences Program Director Juliana Tafur and Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith, GGSC Senior Fellow and the co-instructor of the Bridging Differences course.

Application & Eligibility

There is a short application to participate in any of the cohorts, with limited space to support more intimate connections, conversations, and learning.

The next Project-Based Cohort will run from September 2024 to May 2025, and the Alumni Network will launch in September 2024 (both of these are by invitation only). The next Campus & Organizational Cohorts will run from September 2025-April 2026. Please check back on this page to apply for the upcoming Campus & Organizational cohort.

Please also be aware of the following rules for eligibility:

  • Applicants must work on a college or university campus in the United States
  • A single individual can apply for multiple cohorts, but they can only participate in a single cohort
  • Applicants to the Project-Based Cohort must show that their project has the support of relevant authorities on their campus: The Project-Based Cohort applications requires a letter of support (e.g., from a dean or department chair) indicating that the project has at least the basic resources it needs to get off the ground.

If you have any questions about this opportunity, please reach out to:

The GGSC’s Bridging Differences in Higher Education Learning Fellowship program is supported by a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

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