Building Bridges Classes

"Building Bridges” is a campus-wide public art and engagement initiative that draws on the power of solidarity and creative expression to bring people together and create a bridge across difference. Our courses cultivate a safe space for dialogue among campus workers in an effort to bring people together who might otherwise never be in the same room. We do this by drawing on people’s interest in exploring and sharing a particular part of their own identity with each other and with the campus community. Through ongoing discussion and dialogue, participants in our two core courses ultimately produce creative work that engages the broader campus community.

Our courses are open to all workers on campus and are offered during the fall and spring. Some of our courses are for the entire semester while others are special offerings that may occur over several weeks. Yet others may include public events such as exhibitions or movie showings. Workers do not need to take courses in a particular sequence and can sign up for any course that they like.

Participants in our classes tell us that the Building Bridges courses:

  • Improve their self-esteem and sense of self worth
  • Improve their ability to talk with someone who is different than them
  • Create a sense of solidarity among UMass workers across the traditional hierarchy
  • Stimulate new creative energy and enthusiasm

Participants can expect to cultivate the following skills:

  • Teamwork
  • Critical thinking
  • Public speaking and presenting
  • How to dialogue across difference


Building Bridges courses include:

Questions? Please contact Building Bridges coordinator Jacob Carter at


Our Immigrant Voices

This course brings together immigrant employees to get to know each other and to discuss ways they would like to amplify the voices and realities of immigrant employees on campus. Participants and facilitators work together to create a display that will be showcased in a campus-wide event. The course meets four times in the fall and six times in the spring. Anyone in the UMass community interested in being a part of this course is encouraged to sign up.   —Yi Sun and Jacob Carter, co-facilitators  

Showcasing Worker Artists at UMass

This course brings together worker artists and others to explore the ways in which they can showcase the talents of worker artists on campus. Specifically, participants will be planning for contributions to an showcase event and how to more generally increase the visibility of worker artists on the UMass campus in the years to come. The course meets three times in the fall and five times in the spring.  Anyone in the UMass community interested in being a part of this course is encouraged to sign up. Joe Connolly and Jacob Carter, co-facilitators

We Are More Than You See Writing Workshop

The people who work at UMass have powerful life stories to share. Do you have a life outside of UMass that students and staff don’t get to see? Perhaps you play in a band, write poetry, or lived in another country and have world experiences that our campus can learn from. Join this five-session writing workshop, where you will learn how to craft writing that shares what’s most important about you. And if you would like to collect other people’s stories, we will help you develop skills to do that. Everyone is welcome—just bring a computer or a notebook, a pen, and your writing voice. Leslie Fraser, facilitator

Worker Rights as Civil Rights

The documentary “At the River I Stand” tells the story of the 1968 Memphis, Tennessee sanitation workers strike and its connection to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights movement, and AFSCME's early organizing of public sector workers in the South.  This three-session course uses this film to look at an important moment in history. We also use the issues the film raises as a basis for class participants to discuss your own experiences and perspectives, as we explore together the ways in which worker rights connect to civil rights. Session #2 includes the film showing, with a free light lunch provided by the Office of Equity and Inclusion. This course is taught by Cedric De Leon, Director of the UMass Labor Center and Pat Greenfield, retired Professor at the School of Management and former Director of the UMass Labor Center.