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O&B Conference 2021
Risk and the Courage to Bridge

What would you be willing to risk to bridge across the deep rifts that characterize our world in order to join forces for good? Especially now, with our collective future at stake, would you risk an uncomfortable conversation, pushback from your own “side,” or the possibility of having to share limited resources? More importantly, what could you gain by moving from a politics of isolation to one of belonging? What could we all gain if we had the courage to bridge? And what could we lose if we don't?

Scroll Down for Speakers and Conference Agenda
Day 1, October 18, begins at 2pm PT/5pm ET and ends at 5:30pm PT followed by an online dance party.

Day 2, October 19, begins at 7:45 am PT with sound healing, mindfulness and movement. General programming begins at 9am PT/12pm ET and ends at 6pm PT/9pm ET

Conference fees, accessibility and policies here.

RESOURCES

Build a World Where We All Belong

Check out some of the talks and resources from past O&B gatherings. You're invited to come back to learn more whenever you like.

2019 Report
Read the conference report and watch the recap for our 2019 Othering & Belonging conference.
EXPLORE
Videos
Watch streams from past conferences and pre-recorded content detailing what you can expect at the 2021 conference.
EXPLORE
Curriculum
A set of learning materials to serve as a creative exploration and deeper engagement with core topics of O&B.
EXPLORE

 

“This was one of the most inspiring events I've ever participated in, professionally and personally. It was at a moment where I was seeking guidance/frameworks for deepening my understanding and embodiment of practices that support belonging from internal processes, to interactions with others. I was inspired to fold this in to my professional work as well as in my ongoing personal and spiritual processes to support a more caring world.”

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Othering & Belonging Conference?

The Othering & Belonging Conferences are unique gatherings of people who share a commitment to advancing more fair and inclusive societies. The conference provides a focused space to forge stronger connections and build alignment for the ideas, structures, and policies that we need to create change at scale and with the urgency that all of our work, and our living planet, demands. 

What will O&B 2021 be like?

The 2021 conference will be entirely accessible online. It will prioritize experiences which don’t seek to merely replicate an in-person experience in the virtual space, but instead push us to reimagine community and learning in a virtual setting that takes into account more accessibility and more opportunities to bring people in from around the world. Covid status pending, the conference will be hosting an in-person "Belonging Hub" to (re)connect with each other at the Oakland Museum of California in downtown Oakland near Lake Merritt on Monday, Oct 18. This will be an additional charge to cover the in-person event costs and will include a dinner reception. The option to register for the in-person hub will be offered to those who register for the conference. Tickets for this in-person hub will be capped based on venue in-person limits and a waiting list started. Registration for this event will open late summer 2021 and will cost an additional fee.

Who organizes the O&B conferences?

The conference is organized by the Othering & Belonging Institute (OBI) at the University of California, Berkeley. 

OBI is a social science research institute with more than 75 affiliated scholars engaged in rigorous research on topics related to marginality, including race, poverty, disability, education, religious pluralism, democracy, public health, and other dynamics that either prohibit or advance inclusion and opportunity. 

OBI has a robust staff of in-house researchers, strategic communicators, visiting scholars, and students who work under the leadership of john a. powell, its founding director. Formerly the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, the Institute was renamed in 2019 to reflect its vision of othering and belonging as a central framework that influences and guides our work.

OBI’s work to address systemic inclusion and exclusion is based upon a deep and long-term understanding of the socio, economic, political, and ontological forces shaping the contours of societies. This work is informed by research, analysis, policy, strategic communications, and community and government work.

Who attends the O&B conferences?

Participants are drawn from a wide variety of sectors, disciplines, and geographies, including researchers and academics, educators, policymakers, community and youth activists, social movement leaders, grantmakers, artists, faith leaders, and community members interested in exploring belonging as a lens from which to catalyze their work, and connecting with others in the larger social change ecosystem.

What is the cost to attend?

Our October 18-19 conference has tiered registration prices ranging from scholarships to bridge builder rates. See our Fee section for more information.  

What kind of sessions are offered? 

In our first three conference we offered a mix of mainstage keynote talks, panel discussions, and performances, and concurrent breakout sessions. In addition, the conference hosts a popular book table and expo area which includes commissioned artist exhibits, screen printing workshops, and other unique offerings. 

What are the conference goals?

Each year the conference planning team defines a set of goals to guide the curation of the programming. While each of those change according to current events and context, we measure the success of our conferences by a broader set of the following goals:

  • Form, strengthen, and sustain relationships that build movements which support a larger and more inclusive “we

  • Provide programming that responds to the question: How do we make belonging real?

  • Examine the institutions and structures that are needed to realize a diverse and inclusive society 

  • Examine 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  

  • Highlight models and systems of belonging that already exist and work that can strengthen them

  • Provide interactive programming that provides an experiential sense of belonging by all, including making room for grief, loss, and joy.

Who has spoken at O&B?  

Past Othering & Belonging speakers include:  bell hooks, Naomi Klein, Rev. William Barber III, Andrew Solomon, Tarrell Alvin McCraney, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Masha Gessen, Ai-jen Poo, Desmond Meade, Alexis McGill Johnson, Alicia Garza, Zephyr Teachout, Tara Houska, Rashad Robinson, Kumi Naidoo, Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres, Michael Bennett, Linda Sarsour, Marshall Ganz, Dorian Warren, Saskia Sassen, Jeffrey Sachs, Charles Blow, Melissa Harris-Perry, Haben Girma, Manuel Pastor, Angela Glover Blackwell, Jeff Chang, Saru Jayaraman, Casey Camp-Horinek, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Supaman (Christian Takes Gun Parrish), Dawn-Lyen Gardner, Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, among dozens of others. In addition, our breakout and workshop sessions have been conducted by students,  scholars, artists, activists, and public intellectuals from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines. 

Can I volunteer at the conference?

We do not have any volunteer positions open for the conference due to being able to tap into our many student volunteer resources at UC Berkeley.

What are the organizing principles of the conference?

The O&B conferences are rooted in the following core values and principles:

  • We have a fundamental belief that we are linked by our common humanity, that we are bound together in our work to secure a fair and inclusive democracy, and that we are united in our commitment to care for each other and the earth.

  • We will not allow the normalization of hate, exclusion, racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia or any kind of othering in our society. These forces betray our values and if remain unchecked will overwhelmingly harm all people, our living planet, our future generations, and democracy itself. 

  • We recognize that we may have different strategies for achieving our goals, but we are united by common values that guide our actions. These values are nonpartisan and reflect our grounding in a morality that recognizes the worth of all people.

What does othering & belonging mean?

OBI developed the framework of othering and belonging as a clarifying analysis that can better address the many expressions of prejudice against groups, what elements are made salient or manipulated relative to context and place, and which help to illuminate a set of common narratives, policies, and strategies that can mitigate inequality, hate, exclusion, and marginality.

However, the othering and belonging framework is not merely meant to be merely conceptual; rather, it is designed to be applied in a way that can inform policy, shift public discourse, strengthen our movements, influence pedagogy, and deliver a set of best practices and values for expanding our circle of human concern.

 

PROGRAMMING

Othering & Belonging 2021 schedule

We update our site often for the most comprehensive and up to date agenda for the Othering and Belonging Conference 2021.

[microsite] event schedule
Oct
18
Opening Conversation: The Risk & Possibility of Bridging

In this intimate discussion, OBI Director john a. powell and philosopher Judith Butler will engage in a deep exploration of bridging, particularly in the context of our current moment of heightened polarization, deepened mistrust, and "breaking" across identity lines.

Oct
18
Keynote Panel - The Risk & Possibility of Bridging
Even short bridges can feel risky in this moment of polarization, political purity, and physical and emotional estrangement. In this panel, we will hear leading activists and culturemakers reflect on john powell and Judith Butler's opening provocation to build risky bridges across lines of difference, even when facing pushback or ostracization from our own "side." Join Akaya Windwood moderating an emergent conversation with leading thinkers and culturemakers to discuss how and why taking risks and building bridges are important and necessary for the success of our social movements.
Oct
19
Panel 2 - On Good Conflict: What If We Called In, Rather Than Called Out?

Outrage and conflict have long offered an easy way to build political power for advocates on both the political right and left. While moral outrage is a critical motivator for change, being kept in a constant high state of tension and conflict by these forces has also served to divide us even further into smaller like-minded groups without the will or skill to courageously cross differences and build power for transformative social change.

Oct
19
Panel 3 - Finding Belonging in a Climate of Loneliness, Conspiracy, and Mistrust in Government
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the very real threat that disinformation, entrenched individualism, and low trust in institutions pose in tackling a deadly global crisis. While the arrival of multiple Covid-19 vaccines earlier this year seemed to suggest a hopeful resolution to the crisis, low rates of vaccination—driven in large part by both political leaders' strategic public skepticism and targeted disinformation online—revealed a much deeper problem around lack of faith in government and the enormous reach of conspiracy and fake news more broadly.
Oct
18
The Space Between Us video and Networking

What usually goes left unsaid? 
What usually goes left unseen? 
What happens when we abandon our presumptions and invite discomfort?

Oct
18
Learning Lab: Climate Crisis Solutions and Belonging

A deep look at the climate crisis at this moment and how do we amplify imaginative solutions built on not leaving people behind, but on bringing everyone in? How do we co-create structures that strengthen our connection to place, ensure thriving ecological systems and health, equitably distribute power, and value the dignity of all work?

Intended for: All conference attendees

Oct
18
Learning Lab: Cultural Strategies for Belonging: Learning from Doing 2019-2021

What is a cultural strategy for belonging? How do we center leadership, voices, storytelling, practices and knowledge of people and communities through cultural power forged through love, resistance, survival and joy?

Oct
19
Sound Healing, Mindfulness and Movement Session
Medicine woman Gina Breedlove will guide us on a sound journey through our body, using the vibrational power of our own voice. We will learn or deepen the practice of using sound and intention for personal sovereignty, agency, and dominion of our thoughts, words, actions, presence. Vibration of Grace™ sound healing supports us in making our body a site for freedom.