About us image

We’re investing in the future of democracy by developing the next generation of engaged and constructive citizens.

Our Work

Chapters image

Chapters

Building a student movement to strengthen our democracy and facilitating constructive engagement on college campuses.

Our Chapters
Leadership Institute image

Leadership Institute

Mobilizing the energy of young people into tangible impact beyond the college campus.

LEARN MORE
Our Chapters

Our Chapters

“Our Chapters are at the core of grassroots strategy to build a program that equips students with the knowledge and ability to improve the political culture in their communities. Click on each icon to learn more about a chapter!”

See What Our Chapters Have Been Doing!

“We champion viewpoint diversity, promote a solution-oriented political culture, and teach constructive engagement in order to develop a generation of political leaders that value empathy and common purpose”

Our Impact

Our movement empowers young people from across the political spectrum to fight for a less polarized democracy that works for everyone.

Take Action

Blog

New Beginnings – Part 4

Enter the CulpritBy Laurel Hughes, Psy.D. Today’s unrest is often blamed on politicians, journalists, social media, and the like. This blame is misplaced. The real culprit actually lives deep within everyone’s earliest beginnings. Fight or flight wiring has been saving our skins for eons. Adrenalin triggers us to fight, run, freeze or hide, call out, or even pretend to be dead—all of which are great for basic primitive survival. Oxytocin encourages us to quickly bond with others, creating greater firepower and safety in numbers when facing common foes. This neurochemical soup also temporarily blocks nonessential brain and body functions, so full energy and attention can focus on knee-jerk survival reactions during threat. This is all well and good if you’re running from a lion or doing battle with a neighboring tribe. For today’s socially conflicted world, these fight or flight urges don’t work out as well. We see it every day in today’s divisive community: Feelings of being threatened, angry, attacked, or even illBecoming defensiveLashing out at othersUsing challenged logicNot tolerating differing opinionsWithdrawing from social engagement, and other hiding behaviorsPretending the problem doesn’t exist, or insisting “it’s always been this way”Dividing philosophies, individuals, or ideas into categories like “all good” or “all bad”, completely right or completely wrong, and other forms of black or white thinking Clinging to those who are like-minded, no matter how irrational extreme beliefs may become, and making enemies of those who think differentlyWidespread polarizing and groupthink Fortunately, once a crisis is over, neurochemistry returns to normal. But today’s constant exposures to socio-political stress offer little chance for recovery. Our panic buttons get pressed over and over again. The gut brain goes on believing it’s fighting for its life, with higher thought stuck on the back burner indefinitely. Our reactions thus may continue the way of the caveman. The good news, thankfully, is that our brains are able to override urges of fight or flight. But with so much chemistry polluting the mix, the game plan for how to do so often gets blocked. Today’s Challenge Primary topics of social concern may have changed over the last half-century, but taking extreme opposing views is still alive and well. The rigid defiant approach—my way or the highway—once again is so ingrained that even Congress can’t seem to dig its way out. Gut brains are on high alert over today’s issues, and they won’t back down without a fight. On the other hand, how might the intellect judge our status? Well, we’ve been exposed to the protests. We’re painfully aware of opposing positions on the corona virus crisis, racial injustice, policing practices, the presidential election, and the like. As was the case in sixties, however, letting the gut brain carry a sign and shout out its dismay won’t in itself create solutions. In spite of this, the gut brain still strives to override intellect—unless, we purposely choose to step in. Once we recognize what’s originating in fight or flight, acknowledge it, and put it in its proper place, intellect can rise above misplaced emotion. Our better reasoning can then be dedicated to revamping the process of dealing with conflict, rather than focusing solely on the opposing positions that the gut brain gets so worked up over. We’re in luck. Thanks to brain science research of the past couple decades, we now have a smorgasbord of options for getting fight or flight chemistry in check, such as: slowing down, listening instead of reacting, examining our thoughts, and mindfulness practices. . . . and much more. Future articles will describe many ways to take control or even make use of excess fight or flight chemistry, all the while seeking new answers for managing divisiveness. Take heart, my young friends. This step of your journey will become one of many in finding you are part of something much bigger than yourself. Patterns can indeed be broken. You’ve got this. .ugb-7c3eef4 .ugb-img{width:472px;height:auto !important}.ugb-7c3eef4.ugb-feature{background-color:rgba(151,151,151,0.6)}.ugb-7c3eef4.ugb-feature:before{background-color:#979797}@media screen and (min-width:768px){.ugb-7c3eef4 .ugb-feature__item{grid-template-columns:1.52fr 0.48fr !important}}About the AuthorLaurel Hughes, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist specializing in disaster mental health, is author of “The Cogjam Effect – and the Path to Healing Divisive Community and Fractured Science,” www.thecogjameffect.com
16
Sep

A Month in Review

A Month in Review

The Future of Policing and Voting in the U.S.By Andrew Weinzierl & Chloé Johnston After the onset of quarantined continued far longer than anyone imagined, summer took on a different tone. What is ordinarily a time for regrouping or relaxing was transformed into a period of worldwide efforts calling for police reform.   Sparked by the killing of George Floyd in May, every single state in the U.S. and several dozen countries worldwide called for an end to police brutality through public action. Calls for racial equity have sparked change in some cities, and it has increased tension in others. As such a heated topic, BridgeUSA began to focus our efforts on the theme of policing, through August, in the hope to keep the conversation moving forward. As an organization, we held discussion events, featured prominent speakers to discuss the topic, and shared student perspectives, among much else. Other chapters had also joined in the conversation by hosting discussions on the future of policing within their communities. BridgeKU, for instance, held an event on the right to speak and protest. BridgeBerkeley hosted Adama Iwu, Time Woman of the Year (2017), for a discussion on the role of students in activism and movements for change. .ugb-3a2c6f0 .ugb-image-box__box{border-radius:0px !important}.ugb-3a2c6f0 .ugb-image-box__item{height:294px !important}.ugb-3a2c6f0 .ugb-image-box__item1 .ugb-image-box__image{background-image:url(https://13g3ug2c670s488b483ny6i5-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/unnamed-1024×341.jpg)} Across the pond, BridgeAfrica held an event on police brutality and reform with guest speaker George Kegoro, the Executive Director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission. Mr. Kegoro discussed the history of policing in Kenya and similarities in structures around the world. BridgeMaastricht, a chapter of BridgeEurope, partnered with students from BridgeUSA chapters to discuss comparative methods of policing. To read more from BridgeMaastricht click here. More recently, we held a national event on policing, featuring a former police commander in Arizona, an attorney focused on poverty and community development, and the former Deputy AG of Maryland. Through a Q&A discussion, the panelists talked about how reform would present itself. With the 2020 Presidential Election less than two months away, BridgeUSA will begin shifting the focus from discussing police reform to actionable change. Actionable change that can come about from voting. During a pandemic, when going to the polls can present a health risk, and ongoing debates around mail-in ballots, our country, and especially young people, face more barriers to voting than ever in 2020. Our shift in topic kicked off on Tuesday, September 15th with a virtual discussion on the youth vote in 2020. The panelists Yael Bromberg, chief voting rights counsel of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, and Scott Kendall, a veteran voting rights attorney at Holmes, Weddle & Barcott, and former counsel to U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski and Chief of Staff to Alaska Governor Bill Walker. The importance of voting has never been more relevant. In a time of social unrest, our opportunity to make a change is inextricably tied to the coming elections and our ability to vote. So, pull up a chair and let’s talk about it. Stay tuned for more events and discussions!
14
Sep

Bridge Institute to Bridge-Intern

Bridge Institute to Bridge-Intern

URI sophomore spends lockdown as Divided We Fall intern By Molly Ahern Initially, joining the Bridge Institute seemed like a bad idea. I was coming out of a less-than-ideal freshman year of college, I’d given up on every skill I tried to master during the lockdown, and my family was getting on my last nerve. The last thing I needed was an unpaid job editing opinion pieces for some big wig on the internet. Honestly, I applied for internships through BridgeUSA out of sheer boredom rather than a genuine interest in journalism. Much to my surprise, however, I found that working at Divided We Fall through the Bridge Institute was one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had since college began.  The internship began as many online jobs do. I became acquainted with Conor Donovan, an executive at DWF who would officially become my boss. He showed me what I was doing as an intern and set me up with the social media accounts. I and another intern would be working to improve DWF’s presence on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Additionally, he told me I’d have the opportunity to write and edit pieces throughout the summer. .ugb-8112aee .ugb-blockquote__quote{width:70px !important;height:70px !important}Now’s the part where I pitch the Bridge Institute to all of you reading this while trying hard not to make it sound like a multilevel marketing scheme. Conor had a more hands-off approach to his management, which I appreciated as it allowed the other writers and myself more creative license in our work. Plus, we basically got to set our own hours, which was great because I could get my writing done when everyone else was asleep. At the conclusion of my internship, I ended up writing one op-ed and editing two more. Now’s the part where I pitch the Bridge Institute to all of you reading this while trying hard not to make it sound like a multilevel marketing scheme. In fact, I’ll explain in detail why the Institute is a much better idea than selling overpriced leggings out of your garage. Number one: there’s no buy-in. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on products you probably don’t even like just to try and pawn them off on your high school friends over Facebook. Number two: you learn new skills that will actually help you in your life. I didn’t know how to edit a paper properly until I started at Divided We Fall, thanks to the help of the BridgeUSA team. Number three: you’ll make new friends and connections. I’ve stayed in touch with my boss even after the internship ended, and he offered me a paid position with the company. So give the Institute a try. I’m glad I did. For more information on the BridgeInstitute click here. .ugb-7825deb .ugb-img{width:1024px;height:auto !important}.ugb-7825deb.ugb-feature{background-color:#979797}.ugb-7825deb.ugb-feature:before{background-color:#979797}About the Author Molly Ahern is a sophomore at the University of Rhode Island as well as the Vice President of URI’s Bridge chapter. She is studying Environmental Science and Political Science and she hopes to one day have a career in environmental justice law.