About this conference

The Othering & Belonging conferences, organized by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley, are dynamic and uniquely curated events which aim to elevate work nationally and globally in "othering and belonging," a critical lens developed by the Haas Institute under the leadership of john a. powell for defining structural exclusion and inclusion, and an analytical and applied framework which we can use to design and advance institutions, narratives, and policies that support a more fully inclusive “we.”  

A major aim of Othering and Belonging is to popularize and familiarize our movements and our larger communities and networks with the skills and knowledge to participate in advocacy and ideas using a belonging framework.  

The Othering & Belonging conferences elevate empirical and evidence-based approaches while prioritizing relationship-building that can spark new and innovative collaborations that cut across discipline, identity, issue-area, national borders, and generations, in order to propel more impactful work for all of us.

2019 Conference Focus

With a strong framework built over our first two Othering & Belonging conferences (in 2015 and in 2017), people have frequently turned to us with a key question: how do we make belonging real? Programming for our 2019 conference, to be held April 8–10, 2019 in Oakland, will provide key elements to respond to this question.

We will examine systems, models, movements, narratives, and institutions that either advance or inhibit belonging. We will also explore our analysis of breaking and bridging (see more in this video), as responses and formations in our current moment of rapid global change.

Breaking is a politics based on an “us vs. them” strategy, manipulates anxiety around change, generates animosity that targets the most vulnerable populations, resulting in a smaller and smaller “we.” Breaking creates the conditions for increased authoritarianism and rising nationalism and is threatening the very existence of our living planet. Bridging, on the other hand, affirms our inherent connection to each other and our planet, welcomes our differences, does not deny but incorporates our shared history, is based on an ethics of human dignity, and calls on us to co-create a responsive government and civic life that advances our common good for a shared future.

The 2019 conference will highlight models of bridging that give us examples of how to build and sustain a diverse, pluralistic society underpinned by a new, inclusive social compact where group-based difference and forms of identity—whether race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender, among others—are not dehumanized nor are they subsumed, but instead are celebrated and included in our imagined and real community.

A social compact based on belonging calls for us to be active participants in our political, economic, and cultural life, and takes action when those boundaries are breached.

The 2019 conference will also prioritize an examination of current global political and social phenomena, how they are in close interaction and relationship with US political and economic systems, and how the global rise of exclusionary, ethnic-nationalist, and authoritarian politics are informing and threatening our world today.  

Whether on the main room or in our concurrent breakout sessions, the conference agenda will create spaces that deepen our thinking, sharpen our tools, and help define our strategies on how a belonging lens helps further our mutual efforts in building a fair and more just world. We will host an expanded offering this year of workshop sessions, curriculum materials, and interactive elements where our focus will be to grapple with some of the following questions:

  • How can we create structures that support a large, diverse society, with people who are connected across cultures, religions, race, and other lines of  group difference?

  • What models and systems already exist and how can we strengthen them? What new or re-calibrated institutions are needed to realize a diverse and inclusive society?

  • How do we form and sustain relationships, advance narratives, and build movements that truly support a larger more inclusive “we”?

  • How we respond to breaking and how can we activate bridging? How does this analysis help inform our work?

  • How do we make clear connections between global models, struggles, tools, and strategies for expanding belonging? How can we recognize and tend to our local concerns while connecting our work to global struggles and systems in order to build a truly international movement of belonging?  

We hope you will join us in Oakland at this dynamic event—register today!


Conference Goals for 2019

  • Participants walk away with models, tools, and strategies for operationalizing belonging  

  • Participants explore the concepts of bridging and breaking and learn to apply strategies that expand the circle of human concern and create shared, empathetic identities

  • Participants expand their “we” through engaging with ideas and models that affirmatively advance belonging

  • Participants make clear connections and comparisons between local and global realities in order to build a truly international movement of belonging


Explore our past conferences through photos and videos