Bridging Divides: What Can Ahimsa (Nonviolence) Offer? 

A Virtual Conference: October 8-10, 2021

Call for Proposals

Deadline for submitting Proposals: August 30, 2021

Print Call for Proposals


  Ahimsa Center in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences at Cal Poly Pomona invites presentation proposals for a multidisciplinary virtual conference on Bridging Divides: What Can Ahimsa Offer? 

Conference Description 

We are living in an era of divides. And they are growing in all realms-- social, political, economic, racial, religious, and ecological. While these divides are not entirely new, their intensity and impact are posing existential challenges. The rapidly increasing ethnic and racial divisions are shattering the very image of our multicultural society. The deepening political differences are endangering the concept of “one nation, indivisible.” And while we are the richest nation on earth, the rising economic divide is corroding the very structure of our society with growing poverty and homelessness. These divides are being exploited for political purposes which in turn are widening the divisions and undermining the very fabric of our democracy. More perplexing is the current “vaccine divide” amid a pandemic which is threatening the overall well-being of humanity itself.

Notwithstanding the efforts of scores of organizations and hundreds of individuals who have been working to bridge divides of different sorts, the divisions are continuing to impact growing number of people.

This virtual conference will explore the role and significance of ahimsa in bridging such divides. 

Ahimsa or nonviolence is usually understood in terms of what it is NOT, that is it is not violence. This conference will focus on ahimsa in terms of what it IS. Ahimsa is nonviolence rooted in compassion and empathy, fearlessness and forgiveness, gratitude and generosity. It evokes civility and trust, promotes among all a sense of oneness and amity.

As such, can ahimsa serve as a guiding principle for bridging the divides, for promoting inclusion and strengthen the foundation of our multi-cultural and multi-racial society? Can it bring a sense of unity into our classrooms, communities, and workplaces? 

Proposals: Focus and Scope 

We invite proposals representing multiple disciplinary perspectives that illuminate the role and significance of ahimsa in bridging and transforming the divides. The scope of the conference is inclusive of any topic that engages with positive attribute(s) of ahimsa in bridging and/or transforming the divides of any kind. Presentation topics may also draw upon the lessons from the historical exemplars of ahimsa such as Gandhi, King, Chavez, and others who used nonviolence to overcome the divisions and to create unity.

The conference also invites presentations on the role of nonviolence education/peace education in nurturing a sense of one-ness, friendship and empathy to create better understanding among students drawn from diverse backgrounds. 

Virtual Conference Schedule (Tentative with possible minor adjustments): 

Friday, October 8: 4:00-6:30 p.m. PDT
Saturday, October 9: 10:00-12 Noon; 1:00-3:00 p.m. PDT
Sunday, October 10: 10:00-12 Noon; 1:00-3:00 p.m. PDT 


Our audience in the conference will be diverse: college faculty and students, K-12 educators, business executives and other professionals, and members of the larger community.

Proposal Submission

Please submit via email a 250-300-word abstract of your presentation topic consistent with the conference description along with a one-page professional profile (both as word attachments) by Monday, August 30. 

Proposals will be peer reviewed as they come in. Authors of successful proposals will receive notification via email by September 10. Submissions should have intellectual rigor and depth without being technical or jargon ridden. 

For submission or inquiries, email to: Dr. Tara Sethia <>