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The 2016 collegiate entering class was the most polarized cohort in the 51-year history of the Higher Education Research Institute’s freshman survey.  The divisions we see on college campuses mirror the extreme polarization evident in many national arenas – during the 2016 presidential election, on Fox News and MSNBC, by the congressman who yelled “You lie!” at a U.S. president, and in many other deviations from civil, constructive discourse, most recently in the events in Charlottesville.

It is difficult to simultaneously protect free speech and promote expression of multiple points of view while also creating space where students, faculty, staff, and guests feel safe and included. A core mission of Tufts, and most other colleges and universities, is to develop students’ skills to grapple with myriad ideas and engage in informed and civil discussion and debate on issues on which they may disagree profoundly. We succeed frequently, but we know we must work actively to do even better.

The Bridging Differences Initiative launched in the fall of 2017 with the goal of developing a strategy that will position Tufts to lead nationally and internationally in supporting and developing structures, processes, and skills to engage constructively across differences. Led by a task force comprised of a cross section of students, faculty, and staff from across the University, the initiative will draw on the best research and practices from Tufts, other universities, the military, non-profits, government, the private sector, faith communities, and any other promising models.

Task Force

Bridging Differences is led by a task force comprised of a cross section of students, faculty, staff, and university leaders at all our campuses.

Name Affiliation School or Division
Pulkit Aggrwal Student The Fletcher School
Eileen Babbitt Professor of the Practice The Fletcher School
Camilla Barrios Camacho Student Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Science
Heather Barry Associate Director Institute for Global Leadership
Avery Berkowitz Student Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
Amanda Borquaye Student School of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering
Naftali Brawer Hillel Rabbi Tufts Hillel
Jacqueline Chen Student School of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering
Diana Chigas Senior International Officer, and Associate Provost Office of the Provost
Sarah D’Annolfo Associate Director of Residential Education Residential Life & Learning
Ryan Friedman Student School of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering
Jonathan Garlick Professor School of Dental Medicine, School of Medicine, School of Engineering
Ebuwa Igho-Osagie Student School of Medicine
Peter Levine Associate Dean Of Research Tisch College
Tabitha Lewis Student School of Dental Medicine
Robert Mack Chief Diversity Officer School of Arts and Sciences
Keith Maddox Associate Professor School of Arts and Sciences
Meg McDermott Executive Assistant Office of the Provost
Gregory McGonigle University Chaplain University Chaplaincy
Mary Pat McMahon Dean of Student Affairs Office of the Dean of Student Affairs
Raymond Lu-Ming Ou Senior Associate Dean Office of the Dean of Student Affairs
Brandon Pleman Student School of Medicine
Dominique Prue Student School of Medicine
Nadim Rouhana Professor The Fletcher School
Diane Ryan Associate Dean of Programs and Administration Tisch College
Joyce Sackey Chief Diversity Officer School of Medicine
Annie Soisson Associate Director Center for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT)
Nancy Thomas Director Institute for Democracy and Higher Education
Abi Williams Director Institute for Global Leadership

Get Involved


We  appreciate your input. Please provide any information about programs that you are currently engaged in, or are aware of in terms of campus programming that may help guide our work. We will be reaching out to members of the community; if you are willing to chat with a task force member please provide your contact information.