Bridging the Divide

About the theme

With a multitude of perspectives on our country’s most pressing issues and increasing tensions among our citizens, can we find common ground as we move into the future?  As we examine the landscape across America, what are the challenges we face, and how can we address them?  Can we learn to explore experiences and consider views that are not reflective of our own?  Can we come to a mutual understanding regarding the issues affecting all of us regardless of our socio-economic status, physical location, educational experience, political preference, etc.? 

Every aspect of life has its challenges.  These challenges can be related to income, educational opportunities, career options, access to medical care and support networks, to name few.  These challenges are often present within the same region or neighborhood. For example, it is common that family income can be significantly different between homes located across the street or a within a few blocks of each other. While food insecurity, on average, tends to be higher in rural counties, this is not always the case. Citizens living in urban and inner-city areas can be just as impacted by food insecurity and lack of food options as rural citizens – giving them very similar experiences. Isolating or “siloing” life experiences and social environments often leads to misunderstanding and stereotyping with tension and conflict as the consequence.

This topic challenges each of us to examine not only our individual viewpoints, but to explore and come together to find a common ground in addressing our most pressing issues.  Are we that different after all?

2021-2022 Provost Fellow for Public Affairs

Dr. Elizabeth Walker