Tackling Polarisation in Communities: Workshop with Alison Goldsworthy
Join us on 12 July for a workshop with Alison Goldsworthy where we will explore ways to tackle polarisation within our communities.
Social polarisation is an increasingly significant problem in many communities in Wales. Differences in positions on major societal issues such as Brexit, COVID and immigration, as well as around local controversies such as traffic schemes and building developments, have strained relations between neighbours and created tensions that weaken community cohesion and a community’s capacity to act. This free one-day workshop for senior decision-makers and practitioners in the public sector and civil society concerned with community cohesion in Wales aims to develop a suite of solutions to bridge divides that can be implemented by organisations working with communities. Facilitated by leading writer and consultant on polarisation, Alison Goldsworthy, the interactive programme will explore what polarisation is, how and why it happens, and what civil society groups, businesses and public bodies can do to counter it, with examples of success initiatives. The event will be informed by research undertaken as part of the ESRC WISERD Civil Society Research Centre.
Organised by WISERD and the Aberystwyth University Dialogue Centre, supported by funding from the UKRI Economic and Social Research Council and the Research Wales Innovation Fund.
Alison Goldsworthy is a world-leading expert in the science of polarisation and its effects. Born and raised in South Wales, Ali cut her teeth as a political campaigner and civil society activist in Wales and England, including as Head of Supporter Strategy and Engagement at Which?, and running the successful campaign for opt-out organ donation in Wales. She moved to California in 2017 as Sloan Fellow at Stanford University, where she co-created its first course of depolarisation. She co-founded the Depolarisation Project and co-authored the acclaimed book, Poles Apart: Why People Turn Against Each Other (Penguin, 2021) with Alexandra Chesterfield and Laura Osborne. Ali is now President of Accord, a joint venture between MHP Group and Influence at Work which provides consultancy for major corporations and organizations on both sides of the Atlantic to promote awareness of polarisation and develop counter-polarisation strategies. She continues to advise Stanford’s Conflict and Polarization Lab as Senior Research Associate, and is a Lecturer with the Intellectual Forum at Jesus College, Cambridge University, and Vice-Chair of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.
Professor Michael Woods is Professor of Human Geography at Aberystwyth University, where he is Co-Director of the Centre for Welsh Politics and Society, and a Co-Director of the Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD). He is leading research in the ESRC WISERD Civil Society Research Centre examining both the role of local civil society groups in (inadvertently) fostering polarisation and how local civil society can help to counter polarisation in communities.