Working Across Differences Virtual Track

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“What does it take for our higher education institutions to foster cultures that embrace and bridge differences in a time of toxic polarization and fear?” 

In this vital moment in history, we invite you to join the second Working Across Differences Virtual Track, taking place during the Exchange, and hear from visionary campus leaders as they share innovative approaches addressing toxic polarization and practices designed to foster healthy, safe, and connected communities in trying times. 

Day One | Thursday, April 16, 2020 

3:45 pm – 4:45 pm EST – Want to talk? Methods to prepare students for connective conversation in divisive times

It is no surprise that post-secondary campuses are feeling the effects of societal polarization around the world. What can and should social impact educators do to prepare their students for divisive encounters? Each speaker will share concrete information about the methods educators on their campuses are using to equip students (and really anyone) with tools for potential hostile conversations – especially as we enter into the 2020 US election cycle.  

More Details Here.

5:15 pm – 6:15 pm EST – Can Higher Ed Curb Toxic Polarization? A Look at Changemaking and Bridge Building 

Colleges and universities are increasingly becoming lightning rods for the most polarizing issues in society. It’s in the news. It’s seen and debated on campuses around the globe. But what is the role of an institution to prioritize the curbing of polarization? And, how much can actually be achieved? In this session, we’ll meet campus leaders that have spent the past year learning, testing, and creating programming designed to center bridge building across difference. We’ll hear their stories, their findings, and what they believe should be shared in times of deep division. 

More Details Here.


Day Two | Friday, April 17, 2020 

12:30 pm – 1:45 pm EST – What the World Needs is Love: Changemaking Across Differences in Divisive Times 

It’s hard to escape. We’re living in a historical moment that is largely being defined by division, polarization, and toxic other-ing. It’s hard to go a day without questioning WHY this particular moment is happening and WHAT we can do to weave our social fabric together again. This Exchange keynote will showcase stories of how toxic polarization can be overcome to get back to the impact that can come about when we come together. 

More Details Here.



Katy Brecht* – University of California, San Diego; Ashley Clarke* – CQUniversity; Rachel Cunliffe*– Portland State UniversityEddie Gonzalez – Civil Conversations Project at OnBeingAda Gregory* – Duke UniversityKatie Hyten – Essential Partners; Leslie Yulang Lowe* – CQUniversity;  Sandra LaFleur* – Miami Dade College; Jenan Mohajir – Interfaith Youth Core; Stephania Rodriguez*- North Central College; David Vasquez Levy – Pacific School of Religion 


 *2019 Working Across Differences Fund grant recipients, made possible by Ashoka U and the Fetzer InstituteThe Working Across Differences Fund provides one-year grants to post-secondary institutions for creative and innovative campus-wide initiatives that accelerate the creation, development, and/or application of methodologies that build bridges across differences. Read more about the grantees here 

Working Across Differences Series – Continued Virtual Engagements 

These sessions are part of the “Working Across Differences Series”, a 5-part virtual series practices you can bring to your classrooms and campuses that bring communities together in the midst of polarizing times, made possible by the Fetzer Institute.  The virtual series will continue through May and June. Sign up for Ashoka U communications to get updates!


About the Fetzer Institute

With a mission to help build the spiritual foundation for a loving world, the Fetzer Institute supports work in a variety of areas, including as the health of our democracy, the landscape of spirituality in society, and education. Learn more at