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Bridging Differences in a Polarised World

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

How we came to be

Do you by any chance have a family member whom you completely do not see eye to eye with? Do you stumble on platforms of people who in your view, post completely outrageous things? Or even a friend you no longer speak to because you share no common political views? Well, if you are living in 2023, it appears you are not alone. Or are you?

Our modern world today is extremely connected. Through globalisation, we developed innovative tools and systems that allowed us to establish networks that far outreach our initially thought spatial capabilities. With the rise of social media, we now can see eye-to-eye and communicate with each other with just a couple of clicks on a screen. So, aren’t we supposed to utilize this advancement to become more connected? Why do people in the modern world feel ever more lonely? Wasn’t the idea of globalisation supposed to bring us all together instead of driving us apart?

Our team posed these questions when we got together at the start of the semester. On a beautiful autumn day, we met for an early-morning breakfast and brainstorming session to look into the web of factors influencing polarisation. With a topic drained of any simplicity, our team’s shared values, interests, friendship, and motivation are what brought us together to tackle this wicked problem.

Our journey

At the start of our journey, we looked at the issue on a broad scale trying to map and identify key relationships between the concepts involved. After reviewing various sources, including research conducted by the United Nations (UN), it became clear that global insecurity due to social and political polarisation has been on the rise for the past decades and there has become a significant concern in many countries around the world. The identified factors mentioned that are contributing to this phenomenon vary from issues of economic inequality, political party divides and the rise of extremist groups. For our team, we wanted to explore some of these factors and synthesize our learnings in order to identify feedback loops and areas where we, along with other interdisciplinary networks, can co-create value.

As we interviewed more networks and researched more on the topic, our team noticed how big the scale of complexity actually is. The more interviews we had, the more we were also able to identify recurring themes. Our networks mentioned the phenomenon of minority extremists gaining bigger platforms and higher publicity than the majority laying in the middle. Extreme voices are heard more loudly, thus causing those in the middle to be stripped of their voices. Seeing this as a major problem, we wanted to make sure that we strengthen and give the people in the middle the space they need to speak up and be heard.

Since there were already several initiatives targeting extremism and radicalisation, we decided to place our focus on the people in the middle. Our team and networks felt strongly that we talk to each other, but not with each other, and we don't listen enough. That’s why we realised that dialogue can be a powerful tool in bridging differences.

End result

After identifying our area of intervention, our team got to work and organized several co-creation processes with networks. Realising the importance of empowering the masses, we decided to create our own Bridging Differences card game, aiming to encourage more constructive and respectful forms of dialogue without the need for a mediator, while raising the individuals’ awareness of their own biases and prejudices. Our game can be distributed and played in a variety of settings, including educational facilities, libraries, and bars, amongst others. To reach beyond physical constraints, we also created a printable version accessible online. With our shared identities and differences, we hope future change makers will keep raising awareness about polarisation and find innovative solutions to celebrate our differences. One quote puts it best:

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our incapability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” - Audre Lorde

If you would like to contact any of our team members, you can reach out to:

Daniel Jacobs:

Dureid Al Saman:

Franciska Nemet:

Helena Comella Romeu:

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