BRIDGING OUR DIVIDES: A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO INTRACTABLE ISSUES
America today seems divided into increasingly polarized factions. Political parties, industries, activists, nonprofit organizations, and ethnic and religious groups not only disagree vehemently but also doubt one another’s intellect, values and sincerity. It’s hard to imagine reaching consensus on the issues that divide us if we can’t even have civil discourse.
Fortunately, there are proven approaches to getting competing players not only to talk but also to reach meaningful agreement. Since 2009, Convergence has convened people and groups with divergent views to build trust, identify solutions and form alliances for action on critical national issues. Using a structured process that typically takes 12–24 months:
- leading health care experts from all political stripes developed bipartisan pathways forward on the health care debate that currently roils the nation.
- teachers’ unions, charter school advocates, school administrators and others collaborated on a transformational vision for K-12 education.
- nutritionists, convenience stores, fast food companies and public health experts agreed on recommendations for encouraging healthy eating among Americans.
Convergence president Rob Fersh will discuss the organization’s origins, its impact so far, its “special sauce” for bridging divides, and its vision for a more collaborative, civil and productive society.
Fersh is president and founder of Convergence. He brings a 40-year track record addressing major national problems, including forging bipartisan legislation on controversial issues while serving on the staffs of three congressional committees.