The theme of the 2015-16 Common Experience is “Building Communities in a Global Society.” M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, states that “Community building is the bedrock of all human relationships. It should serve to lower or remove the barriers to communication that unduly separate us humans one from another.” Community building involves developing an authentic relationship among a group of people. An authentic relationship is one in which a group of two or more people who, regardless of their backgrounds, have been able to accept or transcend their differences, enabling them to communicate openly and effectively, and to work together toward common goals, while having a sense of unusual safety and trust with one another.

Efforts to build communities have been taking place since the beginning of humankind. In the United States we continue to struggle with community building - witness recent events in Ferguson, Missouri or Baltimore, Maryland. As the global village continues to shrink we will be confronted with more and more people who are “different.” How can we learn to accept or rise above these differences and develop authentic relationships so that we can more effectively pursue and reach our common societal goals?

Over the course of 2015-16 we are not only going to look at the obstacles to community building such as poverty, inequality, race, language, and power structures but also suggest and discuss some ways to overcome those obstacles. We encourage you to join us as we explore one of the most basic of human activities – community building.