The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley

is proud to host the 
Othering & Belonging Conference

Featuring a vibrant mix of scholars, movement leaders, 
artists, and changemakers including: 
Renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs
Oscar-winner Tarell Alvin McCraney
Scholar and journalist Melissa Harris-Perry
Veteran campaign strategist Marshall Ganz
Journalist and LGBTQ advocate Masha Gessen 
#BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza
...and many more

Berkeley, April 19, 2017 — The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society is hosting its second Othering & Belonging conference on April 30-May 2 in Oakland, California. Designed as a public forum to strategize about civic engagement and grassroots advocacy, the conference will serve as both an inspiration and active driver for bold action towards an inclusive and just society where all groups share access to opportunity and resources.

In an era when toxic nationalism, hate, xenophobia, and racism are on the extreme rise, and when human rights and democracy values are under attack, the Haas Institute is attempting to create a space where a diverse set of committed stakeholders can gather to advance ideas centered on inclusion, justice, and equity. Anticipating up to 1,200 attendees, the conference will bring together scholars, students, grassroots community leaders, policy makers, faith leaders, and other people who will engage with deeply relevant topics such as: borders, right-wing populism, and the global struggle for democracy; how cities and state governments are advancing a progressive agenda; and, the intersection of major areas such as disability, mental health, and incarceration, or public health and immigration. Many other compelling and layered issues will be explored.

“The conference is fundamentally a gathering of people actively engaged with how to secure an open, pluralistic society,” said john a. powell, director of the Haas Institute and professor of Law, African American, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. 

The conference is designed to help answer questions such as: How do we build power among communities, groups and peoples? What role can research and scholarship play in advancing inclusion and opportunity? 

Keynote speakers from across the United States and from as far away as South Africa are taking part in this year’s event including: Melissa Harris-Perry, scholar, author, and former host of a popular MSNBC news and politics show; the renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs, who will discuss his newest book Building the New American Economy; Oscar- and Golden-Globe-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney of Moonlight-fame, who is now the incoming chair of Yale’s playwriting program; journalist and author Masha Gessen, known for outspoken criticisms of Russian president Vladimir Putin and advocacy around LGBTQ issues; Kumi Naidoo, who was the former executive director of Greenpeace International; sociologist Saskia Sassen of Columbia University, lauded for her work on globalization and international migration; Marshall Ganz from Harvard University, who worked with Cesar Chavez and later who is often credited for Barack Obama’s grassroots organizing model in his 2008 presidential campaign . 

More than 700 attendees participated in the Haas Institute’s first Othering & Belonging conference two years ago in Oakland, where the sell-out event featured bell hooks, Naomi Klein, author Andrew Solomon, and Charles Blow of the New York Times, among others.

The event was “gratifying at every level,” said keynote speaker Andrew Solomon after the 2015 conference. “The feeling in that room was electrifying. It gave me great hope for our future.”

This year’s conference attendees will hear speeches and panel discussions from diverse thought leaders, and artistic interpretations and performances that touch on the larger themes of the conference. A full list of conference speakers can be found here, below are some of the main stage speakers (in order of appearance):

Shakti Butler, Founder and President of World Trust Educational Services (emcee)
john a. powell, Haas Institute Director and faculty member of the UC Berkeley School of Law
LaToya Ruby Frazier, Photographer and video artist 
Jeff Chang, Author and Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford 
Tarell Alvin McCraney, Oscar-winning playwright 
Jeffrey Sachs, professor of economics at Columbia University and senior UN advisor
Doug McAdam, Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology at Stanford University 
Saskia Sassen, Renowned scholar and author 
Kumi Naidoo, Former Greenpeace Executive Director
Tarso Luís Ramos, Executive Director of Political Research Associates 
Sarah Kendzior, Writer, anthropologist, and critic, 
Masha Gessen, Journalist, author, and advocate 
Taeku Lee, Berkeley Political Scientist and Haas Institute Associate Director
Lisa García Bedolla, Professor of Education and Political Science at UC Berkeley
Marshall Ganz, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, 
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange 
Zephyr Teachout, Legal scholar and political activist 
Sabrina Smith, Deputy Director of California Calls
Alicia Garza, #BlackLivesMatter co-founder 
Tara Houska, Attorney, Co-founder of Not Your Mascots 
Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Bay Area chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations 
Melissa Harris Perry, Writer, professor, television host, and political commentator

Some of the artists include: 

Chinaka Hodge, Oakland poet 
Dancer Antoine Hunter and Urban Jazz Co.
and many more to be announced! 

Social Media:
Main hashtags:  #OtheringandBelonging #OBConf2017
Short URL: 

Suggested tweets:

How do we think about, talk about, and give birth to a world where all belong? #OtheringandBelonging #OBConf2017

As hate, ultra-nationalism and xenophobia continue to deepen worldwide, the need to challenge Othering is more urgent than ever #OBConf2017 

For us, #belonging means having the right to contribute and make demands on society and institutions. What does it mean to you? #OBConf2017 

Inclusion and love are the only responses to growing Othering and toxic nationalism across the globe  #OtheringandBelonging #OBConf2017

We need bold ideas to fight hate and exclusion, threats to our planet, and the rise of xenophobic and authoritarian politics #OBConf2017

Follow along online to hear speakers like @aliciagarza, @SaskiaSassen, and @MHarrisPerry at #OBConf2017   

Suggested Facebook posts:

Our work building and sustaining a society based on inclusion is today more urgent than ever. On April 30-May 2, we’ll be joining renowned thought leaders in policy, academia, tech, and the arts to share ideas and strategies to build a more inclusive society. Follow along online at the @HaasInstitute’s #OtheringandBelonging conference and hear from speakers like Melissa Harris-Perry and Tarell Alvin McCraney about their visions for a society based on love and belonging. Conference updates found here:  

How do we think about, talk about, and give birth to a world where all belong? This will be the guiding question at the 2017 #OtheringandBelonging hosted by the @HaasInstitute at UC Berkeley. From April 30 through May 2, renowned thinkers like Melissa Harris-Perry, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Saskia Sassen will share their thoughts on the changing nature of our world today—and how we can work towards a vision of inclusion and love despite rising nationalism and hate. Follow along online at

Widespread Othering underpins nearly all major challenges in our world today, including territorial disputes, toxic inequality, military intervention, the closing of borders, forced migration, and climate change. We’ll be joining the @HaasInstitute April 30-May 2 in seeking new strategies to combat othering and build a society where all feel they belong. Follow along online at the 2017 #OtheringandBelonging conference in Oakland, CA to hear scholar, artists, and other thought leaders share their vision for a truly inclusive world.  

About the Haas Institute
The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley brings together researchers, organizers, stakeholders, communicators, and policymakers to identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society and to create transformative change toward a more equitable nation. The Institute serves as a national hub for a vibrant network of researchers and community partners and takes a leadership role in translating, communicating, and facilitating research, policy, and strategic engagement to produce change and, ultimately, make a meaningful impact. 

Media Contact
Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society
University of California, Berkeley
460 Stephens Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-2330

For communications and media-related inquiries, contact: 
Rachelle Galloway-Popotas
(510) 329-0032

Sara Grossman