Campus Community Invited to Participate in Special Symposium on Polarization: ‘Understanding the Forces that Drive Us Apart’

Lecia Brooks
Lecia Brooks
Jelani Cobb
Jelani Cobb
Daniel Ziblatt
Daniel Ziblatt

All members of the community are invited to participate in a special event on Tuesday, Feb. 5: “Understanding the Forces that Drive Us Apart: A Symposium on Polarization.” Sessions are scheduled throughout the day, making it convenient for people to engage in a variety of opportunities to better understand the national rise in hateful acts and to build skills to overcome division.

The symposium will bring prominent figures and academics to campus, including:

  • Lecia Brooks, outreach director of the Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Jelani Cobb, Ira A. Lipman professor of journalism at Columbia University
  • Daniel Ziblatt, Eaton professor of the science of government at Harvard University and co-author along with Steven Levitsky of the New York Times bestseller, “How Democracies Die”

The free, daylong symposium will run from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium. A complete schedule can be found on the Diversity Matters website. Registration is requested.

“Our goal throughout this day is to provide a means for students, staff and faculty to engage thoughtfully, and to understand the motivations for acts of hate and the underlying causes for the social and political polarization we are facing today,” says Enobong (Anna) Branch, associate chancellor for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. “As an educational institution, we strive to equip our community with a historical and contextual understanding of hate, which will provide us with the tools to stand united and fight against it.”

In addition to prominent speakers, panel discussions will feature distinguished faculty discussing “Hate in a Historical Perspective” and “The Structures of Polarization.” Breakout sessions will offer participants the chance to build skills to overcome polarization, such as: “How to be an Intersectional Ally,” “Intergroup Dialogue,” and “Using Dialogue to Bridge Political Divides.”

The symposium is organized by the Office of Equity and Inclusion. As part of the Dignity and Respect in Action campus initiative, the event is designed to help participants understand the dynamics of political and social polarization using scholarship to understand the present moment and contextualize it within U.S. history