8th International Conference on

" Engaging The Other:"

The Power of Compassion


April 13-15, 2018

Edgewood College ~ Madison, Wisconsin, USA

(Watch for full program details)


At a time when escalating polarization is the true culprit,
a shared common-ground conference
promoting respectful listening, dialogue, trust,
and action to bridge the divide


JOIN US for an interactive, working conference to:

  • Address rising polarization and animosity in our society
  • Advance a wider public dialogue about toxic images of "Us and Them,"
  • and Promote positive joint action for compassionate remedies and healing in our relationship with a perceived "Other."

An opportunity to LEND YOUR VOICE to a gathering of various "sides" and "Other" identities engaging together for 3 days of:

  • Developing a framework of trust, 
  • Facilitating deep listening and constructive dialogue within a neutral, respectful space, 
  • Increasing understanding and appreciation of different perspectives, 
  • Building a common language to find commonalities and points of agreement,
  • Cultivating our capacity for genuine engagement, appreciation of diversity, and reconciliation, 
  • Promoting collaborative action planning for shared aims and bridging the divide.

Sponsored by:
Common Bond Institute (CBI), Edgewood College, International Humanistic Psychology Association (IHPA), and Michigan State University

Endorsed by:
An international list of over 100 cooperating organizations and universities

Official Partner and Event of:
Charter For Compassion  and  Parliament of World's Religions


~ A Conference For Everyone ~



Goals and Possible Outcomes

This year's ETO program focuses on:

  • the toxic divisions, distrust, hatred, and enemy images intensifying across our society,


  • creating a shared space to promote deep listening, mutual understandings, appreciation, support, and concerted cooperation in finding common ground and practical visions for strategic action on healing the divide.

Through respectful, person-to-person engagement in a trusting environment the conference seeks to identify both common ground on fundamental needs & intentions, and how we may differ on how to go about meeting those needs and intentions we have in common. Along the way fundamental questions, dilemmas, and implications are considered, including how hostile, enemy identity is formed, perpetuated, and manipulated, and how to challenge embedded negative belief systems that ascribe nefarious intent and promote adversarial perceptions of "The Other."

The central task is to tap our shared wisdom, compassion, and responsibility in developing practical strategies for applying results to the current state of relationships, and create immediate opportunities for collaborative action following the conference.



Outcomes are co-created by conference participants.
Examples of possible outcomes and follow-up may include:

1) Promoting working networks of bridge-building activists conducting on-going community-based dialogue groups across the country to widen public involvement and continue the process of compassionate engagement.

2) Developing a regularly meeting virtual working group of key stakeholders to follow up on identified points of common ground and interests, and explore proactive possibilities for mutual support and cooperation in advancing them.

3) Linking with other like-purposed events and efforts to progressively build on each others energy and outcomes in better promoting a shift away from distrust, division, polarization, and hostility in public conversation, and toward a more civil and constructive path for addressing honest issues of disagreement we as a society have different perspectives and opinions on.

4) Producing a resource of information, references, and opportunities to become involved in efforts to place the topic on the wider public table, increase awareness and solidarity, and encourage empowered civic engagement.

5) Formulating findings and preparing joint recommendations on reducing polarization and animosity within the public discourse for public policy makers, social-political representatives, and the general public.

   An important, timely dialogue
                        ....everyone needs to be part of.


Donate to our Subsidy Fund
to help students and participants from developing communities attend
by making a Tax Deductible donation through our partner organization
International Humanistic Psychology Association




The conference is a highly interactive learning community meant to build from day to day toward collaborative action plans applied beyond the conference. Sessions are designed to offer space for deep listening, exploring common needs, intentions, and concerns, sharing diverse perspectives, imparting knowledge and skill, and stimulating increased understanding, practical applications, and next steps in putting principles into practice. 

In-depth Dialogue and deliberation are the essential engines of the conference. As such, a central driving feature of the program is conducting interactive topical roundtables and dialogue groups to actively engage all participants in exploring and addressing conference themes, and contributing their expertise, perspectives, and personal experiences.

Structure of the ETO Conference. A 3 day working program of:

  • Interactive topical roundtables
  • Facilitated All-conference Dialogues and Action Planning
  • Facilitated Dialogue and Action Planning Break-out Groups
  • An interactive resource and conversation HUB
  • Live 2-way Global Links to key stakeholders
  • Daily Blog Summary for updating participants
  • Final Processing and Action Planning session for next steps beyond the conference.
  • Rich Networking and Collaboration Opportunities
  • Interdisciplinary, Multi-cultural Community.
  • Displays and Poster Sessions

Examples of Participants:

Community activists and leaders, Social-Political activist and leaders, Peace activists, Government and NGO representatives, Cultural/ethnic and spiritual community representatives, Members of minority and majority groups, Human service providers, Visionaries and front-line thinkers, Academics and students, Social Science researchers, Representatives of university departments, professional associations, and academic groups, Anyone from the public drawn to the mission of the conference.

Coordination with Other Efforts:

A goal of the ETO Conference is to programmatically link with  other like-purposed events to help support and build on each other’s process and outcomes. Included are also other CBI conferences, such as the International Conference on Transgenerational Trauma (TT) (Jordan).

Previous Year Sample Programs:



The Other often conjures up images of strange faces, practices, and beliefs, usually in faraway places. At the same time that it challenges our understanding, our sense of normalcy, and sometimes our sense of security, it is a label we all share.

....Steve Olweean