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Building Connections & Bridging Differences

Doing Disagreements Well

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Discussions & Modules

Building Connections and Bridging Differences discussion groups bring people together to learn about and grow in their ability to forge deep human connections and creatively bridge differences. 

We invite you to join our facilitated conversations intended to connect lived experience and our values while learning applied strategies to support each other in living those values amidst difficult topics and contrasting viewpoints.

Module Videos
Module 1: An Introduction

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Module 2: Cultivating Flourishing

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Module 2 continues our discussion of how to deepen our sense of community amidst differences and to actualize our university's mission, vision, and values.  One of the cornerstones of being open and engaged with others in a healthy manner is the degree to which we are healthy ourselves.  When we are overwhelmed or burned out, our capacity to engage our energies outwardly to others is restricted.  This module explores how we can flourish during "chronic too-muchness" and establish a foundation of wellness that positions us well to diverse perspectives around us.

Module 3: Cultivating Openness

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By cultivating a lens of OPENNESS, we can strengthen our actions to align with the university's mission, vision, and values as well as deepen into meaningful interpersonal connections that honor the truth of our shared common humanity. By understanding the brain's natural evolutionary tendency towards bias, we can turn towards thoughts that are inaccurate and adjust instead of reacting and living from beliefs that aren't useful or valuable for the 21st century.   This module explores the importance of curiosity as an element in communication to uphold a lens-free from reacting to the judgment, the brain's natural tendency towards bias, and the necessity of trust to bridge differences on the path to building connections amidst diverse perspectives.

Module 4: Cultivating Courage

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Register for upcoming live sessions

History of Building connections and bridging differences
Building Connection & Bridging Differences History

The Compassionate Action Board is excited to launch a project that involves the collaborative leadership of the University Ombuds, Health & Wellness, Institutional Research.  Through a generous contribution from an anonymous donor for the Kindness and Bridging Differences Initiative (Now the Building Connections and Bridging Differences Initiative) we aim to “provide support to further W&M’s pursuit to promote deep human connections and bridge differences in innovative and creative ways while moving toward its strategic vision of work, knowledge, and service.”  This contribution was inspired by the dialogue between President Rowe and Chancellor Gates during Inauguration Weekend in 2021 when they spoke of kindness and “doing disagreements well.” 

The goals of this project center around developing initiatives that promote empathy and encourage civil discourse around difficult topics and contrasting viewpoints, advancing the mission, vision, and values of the College and the goals of the Charter for Compassion, and evaluating the measurable results of these efforts.

Learn about our upcoming discussions and modules.


Now that the institutional mission, vision, and values have been finalized, we turn our systemic and institutional focus toward raising awareness about the BCBD Initiative and how it is congruent with the mission, vision, and values of W&M. This entails developing the marketing and branding components of BCBD, defining the BCBD principles and highlighting where these are already active on campus. Reaching out to the various Assemblies to make it known and visible is in the planning for the upcoming semester. And developing an appropriate assessment rubric to evaluate our efforts also must be done from the outset.

Departmental and Individual

Creating a training curriculum is the focus for both the departmental and individual working groups. Because of the overlap of training ideas that may occur in the development of a training curriculum for departments and individuals, it was decided to combine these areas in the beginning.  As we develop a good training curriculum, we will then tailor that training to individuals and groups, respectively.