The O&B Virtual Conference 2021
on Risk and the Courage to Bridge is now over!

Thank you to everyone who could join. You can watch the videos now.

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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.

2021 Report and 2019 Report
Read the conference report and watch the recap for our 2021 and 2019 Othering & Belonging conference.
Watch streams from past conferences including Keynotes from the 2021 conference.
A set of learning materials to serve as a creative exploration and deeper engagement with core topics of O&B.


“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?

We are hosting two events in 2021. On April 21, a virtual one-day Summit and on October 18-19, a multi-day conference. Both 2021 conference events will prioritize virtual 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. 

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 April 21 Summit is free and open to the public. Our October 18-19 conference will offer a tier of registration prices that will be published following our April summit. 

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.



Othering & Belonging 2021 schedule

[microsite] event schedule
A Poem In Three Parts, Part 1: A Story of Now
The Othering & Belonging Institute commissioned poet Michelle Lee aka "Mush" to write and perform a poem in three parts on bridging and belonging for the 2021 Othering & Belonging Conference. We will be premiering this poem and accompanying visuals—featuring an array of dancers, aerialists, and performers of all kinds—in three digital shorts directed by filmmaker Yoram Savion, with creative direction from conference emcee Sarah Crowell. I: A Story of Now we are in a monumental moment a portal to change as Arundhati Roy calls it a gateway between one world and the next if marked on a map of the...
A Poem In Three Parts, Part 2: A Story of We
The Othering & Belonging Institute commissioned poet Michelle Lee aka "Mush" to write and perform a poem in three parts on bridging and belonging for the 2021 Othering & Belonging Conference. We will be premiering this poem and accompanying visuals—featuring an array of dancers, aerialists, and performers of all kinds—in three digital shorts directed by filmmaker Yoram Savion, with creative direction from conference emcee Sarah Crowell. II. A Story of We the story of who we, as people, might be when we dare to belong is the story of a brick that dreams of becoming a waterfall the story of who...
Different Histories, Parallel Stories: Black and Native People Bridging for Climate Justice
Since the colonization of what is now known as the United States, Black and Native people have had parallel experiences of violence and oppression, and have been in each other's lives in different ways. While some Native groups provided sanctuary to formerly enslaved Africans, others made a lucrative business returning runaway enslaved people. While some Africans helped Natives, other Africans played a significant role in battles against Native Americans. Today a group of Black and Native advocacy leaders and culture-bearers recognize the importance of working together to address climate...
Breaking Patterns: A visual arts-based workshop
Are you grappling with how to move the needle in addressing racial and social justice? Studio Pathways provides profound creative action to activate and embody the changes you're seeking. Known for their bridging practices for effective cultural shifts within educational and organizational spaces, Mariah and Jessa invite you to engage with Breaking Patterns. This creative experience will support you to examine personal and systemic patterns and how to create new ones through artful thinking. Please bring pieces of scrap paper for collage, something to write on and something to write with...
Across Our Homes: Bridging Within and Across Diaspora Communities
Diasporas – or communities of people living outside of their original homeland – are no monolith. The pathway to a new home may be paved with the push of forced displacement or with the promise of better economic conditions. And, of course, all migration must be placed in the context of the structural forces of empire, colonization, capitalism, and the escalating climate crisis. Across these different origin stories, diaspora communities, organizations, and movements are increasingly influential in both their new homes and countries of origin. However, this influence is distributed unevenly...
Safety For Who? A fishbowl bridging conversation on Anti-Asian violence and policing in the Bay Area
Since the start of the pandemic, we have witnessed a frightening increase in anti-Asian violence in the California Bay Area, particularly within Oakland and San Francisco Chinatown. Still, this type of violence is not new— South Asian and Sikh communities in the Bay also faced high rates of discrimination and violence following 9/11, similarly bearing the brunt of misplaced blame for a national crisis. Asian community members in the region want to prevent further violence from taking place in their neighborhoods, but they are an ideologically diverse group who have different ideas on whether...
Breakout Session 1
Gathering the faithful and the secular: Cross-belief bridging for social justice and belonging
Faith leaders of many religions have long been at the forefront of movements for social justice, and yet are often overlooked in the stories and narratives we tell about those very fights. This is perhaps due to a longstanding discomfort and disconnect between secular justice leaders and those who are faith-based, despite the central role that religious belief and spiritual communities play in the lives of people of all backgrounds. Indeed, it may be deeply remiss for those of us fighting for justice and belonging to overlook the opportunities inherent in bridging with faith and spiritual...
Bridging and belonging in neighborhoods: Transformative Change and Care, Starting From the Block
Over the last year, the pandemic has kept us apart and relegated many of our connections to virtual spaces. But it has also been a chance to reorient ourselves to life and relationships at the neighborhood level. How can one-to-one relationships between neighbors plant the seeds for systems change, different ways of living collectively, and bridges to belonging? Explore connections between a range of bridging efforts rooted in everyday moments of interpersonal connection ― from community care and solidarity through mutual aid organizing, to campaigns that are reimagining community safety...