Beyond Conflict was honored to be featured for a third year in a row at the Summit Annual conference in Los Angeles from November 2-5, 2018. The annual gathering brought together more than 3,000 leaders, activists and visionaries from the arts, politics, media, grassroots organizations and the private sector for a series of wide-ranging conversations and workshops designed to build community and push forward innovative ideas to solve pressing global challenges. Summit participants ranged from Starbucks founder Howard Schultz and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper; to former Vice President Al Gore; contemporary artists Jenny Holzer and Hank Willis Thomas; investor Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates; legendary guitarist Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead; and the pioneering activist and colleague of Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta; among countless other visionary individuals, musicians and performers. Beyond Conflict presented three powerful panels that highlighted the pioneering work carried out by our BC Innovation Lab (BCIL) to address issues around racism, the global refugee and migrant crisis and the growing problem of polarization in the United States. The presentations focused on Pre-empting Racism, the Science of Belonging and Inclusion, and a Workshop on Mental Health and Trauma. The BCIL is carrying out new and innovative research to better understand the cognitive, social, and neural mechanisms that underlie social conflict and social change. We are combining that research with our 25 years of direct experience around the world, and seeking to develop new and more effective frameworks and measures to address some of the biggest and most intractable problems we face as a global community. The Preempting Racism project is exploring the development of racial preferences in children between 3 and 6 years of age in the United States. While it’s well known that our social environment leads to racial preferences, researchers had not previously looked at the specific social and behavioral processes that shape such preferences in early childhood. Developing a measurable understanding of those processes could help us create real world tools, interventions and training that could help address one of the most pernicious conditions of our modern society. BC staff also discussed current and potential new research in brain and behavioral science that can help us better understand the cognitive and emotional basis of inclusion or “belonging,” which at its root is a subjective felt feeling that is expressed biologically, physiologically and psychologically in the human body. The Mental Health and Trauma workshop showcased the Field Guide for the Barefoot Psychologist — a booklet and mobile application to help migrants, and those who work with migrants, to address psychological issues dealing with displacement and chronic stress. The Field Guide is a narrative-based mindful therapy tool and is currently being piloted with Syrian refugees, and workshop participants discussed how two key aspects — the nature of storytelling, and educating people on how their brain works — can be empowering and destigmatizing ways to effectively cope with trauma. We are grateful to our hosts and fellow Summit participants, and look forward to exploring the various potential partnership opportunities and meaningful connections developed as a result of the conference.
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