Building Bridges

In spring 2018, the university launched Building Bridges, an initiative designed to foster new connections among UMass community members who come from greatly varied backgrounds and hold differing perspectives. It provides an opportunity, no matter what your role or job may be on campus, to become actively engaged.

There are three core projects that are part of Building Bridges, including art installations and two courses—Our Immigrant Voices, which seeks to amplify the voices of immigrant workers on campus; and Showcasing Worker Artists at UMass, which explores ways of highlighting the art created by UMass employees.

As part of the initiative, there will also be events and lectures. Students, faculty and staff are invited to get involved in Building Bridges in a way that feels meaningful to them, whether by attending an event, hosting their own event or contributing to the Building Bridges art installation. Want to learn more? Read the news story

Building Bridges Showcase and Opening Reception

Thanks to everyone who made this event a success! View photos from the event here
Come back soon to find out where the exhibits will be next!

About the Art Installations

The Building Bridges art installations feature cards designed by campus community members during the spring 2018 semester. Each card individually answers the questions: “What differences do you want to bridge and/or connect, and how can we accomplish this goal?” When assembled, these cards create a mosaic that spells out the words “building bridges.” The mosaic is then displayed on an 11-foot tower featuring the phrase “building bridges” in multiple languages.

How to get involved: Contact us to get a set of Building Bridges cards to contribute to the art installation. From March 19 through April 10, you may also visit one of the Building Bridges installations, available in several locations on campus including the Campus Center Concourse, the Design Building and the Hampshire Dining Commons. 

About Our Immigrant Voices

This course seeks to amplify the voices of immigrant employees on campus. Photographs and stories gathered in this course will be displayed around campus and will highlight the diversity of UMass as well as elevate the contributions of the campus’ immigrant employees.

How to get involved: Attend the showcase on April 11, noon to 7 p.m., in the Fine Arts Center Atrium.

About Showcasing Worker Artists at UMass

This course will bring together worker artists and others to explore ways of highlighting the art created by UMass employees. It aims to recognize essential workers—those who may clean the restrooms, serve food in dining halls, tend the grounds or engage in clerical tasks—and celebrate their artistic talents in a way that enriches the UMass community.

How to get involved: Attend the showcase on April 11, noon to 7 p.m., in the Fine Arts Center Atrium.

Events and More

A full list of events can be found here.

For All Groups

La peña de UMass: A Creative Space for Community, Self-Expression, and Resistance in These Times
March 23, 5-7 p.m.
Campus Center, Blue Wall Atrium

Join us for an evening of community-building and creativity. Tapas will be served; all are welcome. Learn more.

Pop-Up Sessions
March 19-April 10
Campus Center Concourse
Design Building

Visit one of the Building Bridges art installations, available in several locations on campus including the Campus Center Concourse, the Design Building and the Hampshire Dining Commons. These pop-up installations feature artwork by faculty, students, and students from across campus; the exhibits will be regularly updated. Learn more

Showcase and Opening Reception
April 11, noon to 7 p.m.
Fine Arts Center Atrium

Don't miss the opening reception for Building Bridges! Learn more. ​

Building Bridges in the Library: Stairway Mural Contest
Various Dates

Students have been designing and painting murals in the library stairwells since 1986. This year, the Library Art Committee is hosting a special "Building Bridges" mural contest, requesting submissions from anyone or any group from the UMass community. Submissions are due by March 1 and May 1. Learn more

For Students

Debate: Why I'm a Republican/Democrat
Feb. 28, 8-10 p.m., Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall

The UMass Democrats and the UMass College Republicans took part in a civil debate moderated by Daniel Gordon, professor of history. The two groups discussed taxation, healthcare, the Iran-nuclear deal and immigration. More than 100 students showed up and filled the CHC events hall to watch. Learn more.

CMASS Cultural Appreciation Series
Various Dates

Throughout the semester, CMASS is hosting a series of events to celebrate the diverse cultures at UMass. The series encourages students to identify respectful ways to appreciate culture by examining history and participating in the traditional way of making a spiritual symbol, preparing food, styling hair or learning about the history of a holiday. Learn more.

  • Hawaiian Lei: Monday, Feb. 12, from 7-9 p.m. at Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center in Chadbourne Hall Room B-3
  • Braids: Tuesday, March 6, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Malcolm X Cultural Center in Berkshire Dining Commons
  • Sushi Rolls: Wednesday, March 21, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center in the Worcester Dining Commons
  • Cinco de Mayo: Wednesday, April 4, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Latinx American Cultural Center on the second floor of Hampden Dining Commons

Interfaith Community Service Projects
March 25, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Location TBD
April 22, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Location TBD

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life has teamed up with Habitat For Humanity and many religious groups on campus to host monthly Interfaith Community Service Projects. Projects include volunteering on building sites or a soup kitchen, followed by food and meaningful discussions. Upcoming date are March 25 and April 22. Students from all backgrounds are welcome to sign up or learn more.

(un)labeled at UMass: Beyond the Label
April 9, 4-8 p.m., Isenberg Atrium

Come and meet some of your peers and realize that we have more in common with one another than we might think. This event—which features free food and giveaways—is part of (un)labeled at UMass, an advertising campaign created by students in the Marketing 498B advertising practicum. Learn more.

Inter-/Intra-Group Dialogues Course
Spring Semester

In EDUC 392B: Inter-/Intra-Group Dialogues, CMASS and the Social Justice Education Concentration in the College of Education work together to facilitate conversations between students from varied groups, including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and more. In the one-credit course, which takes place over a weekend in the spring semester, students will have the opportunity to examine and discuss how their identities and experiences affect one another. This semester's class focuses on cross-race dialogues on race/racism as students who attend predominantly white institutions (PWIs). Learn more.

Word! A Five College Festival of Staged Readings
April 5, 7:30 p.m., Smith College, Acting Studio 1
April 6, 4 p.m., UMass Amherst, Fine Arts Center Lobby*

The Word! festival features staged readings by college students of color whose pieces have been selected by The Five College Multicultural Theater Committee. The short plays or excerpts focus on themes of race and diversity. This year, the festival will feature the same performance at Smith College and at UMass Amherst.

The primary goals of the festival are to identify and nurture student writers who are engaging in multicultural themes and/or aesthetics; to increase contact between the departments of theater and the communities of color on the respective campuses; and to further Five College exchange through the mechanism of a rotating festival. Learn more.

*Please note: date and location subject to change. 

Shaha: The Storytellers
Tuesday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. 
Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall

Shaha, the Swahili word for “storyteller,” is exactly what this diverse peer education troupe at UMass is all about. Shaha is made up of students from many backgrounds, who work together to tell stories through performance. They perform scenes based on their own experiences in order to start conversations on social justice issues such as racism, classism and more. Watch for their spring performance or learn more.