As the spring semester begins, the university will launch Building Bridges, a public art and engagement initiative designed to foster new connections among UMass Amherst community members who come from greatly varied backgrounds and hold differing perspectives. It’s an opportunity, no matter what your role or job may be on campus, to become actively engaged.

The project includes a series of high-profile art installations, enrichment courses for staff, events and lectures. Together, these are intended to invite people with different personal backgrounds— across race, religion, class, immigration status, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability and nationality—to connect and strengthen community.

“In the fall, we embarked on the Hate Has No Home at UMass campaign to affirm the importance of respecting difference in our community,” says Enobong (Anna) Branch, associate chancellor for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. “This semester, we plan to offer several initiatives to foster community-building. The Building Bridges initiative speaks to the power of creative expression and engagement as a means to build connections across difference and create a more inclusive campus community.”

To achieve this, students, faculty and staff are invited to get involved in Building Bridges in a way that feels meaningful to them, whether by attending an event or contributing to one of the three core projects: a Building Bridges Art Installation; a course called Building Bridges: Our Immigrant Voices; and a course called Building Bridges: Showcasing Worker Artists at UMass.

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