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.


My question is not listed here. Whom do I contact?

Please email belongingconference@gmail.com for assistance.