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Religious Diversity & Bridgebuilding

Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap equips students and educators with the skills and knowledge to better engage across deep divides in our polarized society.

Higher Education

Interfaith Leadership Summit

Find out more information about the Interfaith Leadership Summit on August 4-6, 2023 and our BTG track there.

We anticipate hosting a special pre-Summit gathering on August 3 for educators from CCCU institutions in the BTG track. More info to come this spring!

About Bridging the Gap​

Our Goal

We envision a culture where the heroes are the bridge builders. Towards that goal, the program is designed to reduce the polarization in our country by giving students, faculty, and administrators the skills they need to find common ground across deep divides while solving problems on their campuses and in their communities.

Bridging the Gap on Campus

Bridging the Gap teaches students and campus professionals how to truly listen, understand, be heard, and seek common ground to positively impact their communities without comprising deeply held values. Our approach involves skill-building, encounters, and direct application. The skills of listening, story-telling, and engaging tension constructively are at the heart of the BTG experience. Students will learn and then practice these skills by directly engaging with people on or off their campus who have different views, values, and/or experiences. Finally, in the application part of the BTG model, different groups practice these solution-oriented skills together and hear from voices of a broad range of stakeholders on a chosen policy topic. We focus on equipping educators and students with these abilities and encouraging them to effectively promote these skills more broadly on their campus through curricular and co-curricular projects, courses, and initiatives. Campuses have done this in a number of ways. Colleges and universities with different ideological or mission backgrounds have paired together in the past to run semester-long programs. Other campuses have run a BTG semester course solely within their own institution. Many campuses are utilizing aspects of BTG within student leadership trainings, for paraprofessional students, and with staff and administrators. We encourage any campus to think creatively about how best to utilize bridge-building skills within their unique context.

Impact

BTG’s approach is leading to direct impact on students and campuses across the country. As one student who participated in BTG said, “I have learned…that it is possible to connect with people who have different views and ideologies than I do. That people who are different from me care about me, and I care deeply about them.” Diverse institutions including Christian universities, HBCUs, private secular universities, and public universities have reported the meaningful impact of BTG’s work on their campus and the development of storytelling abilities and empathy among their students. As campuses, higher education leaders, and civic institutions attempt to address issues of division and polarization, Bridging the Gap has shown the impact it can have on the most pressing issues facing campuses today.

Testimonials

Engagement across difference has helped us clarify and strengthen who we are as Christians, and illuminated stories we may not have understood about "the other" along the way, so we are committed to bridge-building and the opportunity for it to take root even more deeply at SAU.

– Kevin Brown, Chief Diversity Officer at Spring Arbor University

BTG is resonating with staff and students at Bentley who want to see a more connected community with a sense of belonging that bridges typical societal divides.

– Ian Mevorach, Interfaith Chaplain at Bentley University

I have loved seeing each of our students grow this semester through building genuine and deep relationships as they tackled challenging topics in our community— they have given a living example of what it means to Bridge the Gap.

– Rev. Heather Daughtery, University Minister at Belmont University

Feature Articles

Samford University

How Samford University and Miles College are Partnering to Bridge the Gap

INSIDE HIGHER ED

‘Mining the Depths of Our Differences’

Greater Good Magazine

Can Deep Listening Heal Our Divisions?

Contact Us

Please contact us with any questions about Bridging the Gap.

Tina Grace

Program Coordinator

Interfaith America

Carr Harkrader

Program Consultant

Interfaith America

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