Religious Diversity & Bridgebuilding
Bridging the Gap equips students and educators with the skills and knowledge to better engage across deep divides in our polarized society.
Register now for our track at the 2023 Interfaith Leadership Summit on August 4-6! Our track will will help participants to implement these skills in their unique campus contexts. Our train-the-trainer approach will equip educators to be able to run their own bridgebuilding courses and trainings at their institution.
Interfaith America is excited to host a gathering for educators from the CCCU network focused on discussing the unique opportunities and challenges of bridgebuilding work on a Christian campus on August 3, the day before the Summit. Register here.
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 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.
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.
The following films offer a variety of insights and perspectives into the hard and important work of bridgebuilding. The “Listening is a Superpower” film is instructional in nature, while the others focus on telling stories of the work. Whether you use these films in a class, with a student group, or simply to gain insight into BTG’s programming, we hope they serve as a catalyst for your own bridgebuilding work on your campus and in your community.
Many thanks to the Nantucket Project for producing these films.
Check out our multipart curriculum focusing on bridgebuilding skills and applications. It’s designed for educators to use with students in classrooms and groups across campus. Bringing together the best practices of Bridging the Gap, this curriculum will help you teach the skills and abilities needed to engage across deep divides.
Please contact us with any questions about Bridging the Gap.