In the Name of Identity

How to hold difficult conversations about identity, race, and current issues

Course Details

  • Price: FREE
  • Start Date: On Demand
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Partner: Acumen’s Fellowship Program

What You’ll Learn:

  • Facilitate a difficult conversation about issues of identity, race, belonging, and violence using a text by Amin Maalouf as a springboard
  • Explore your own identity and the identities of others through conversation
  • Trace the historical roots and learn about the underlying causes of current events
  • How to have empathy for different worldviews


The headlines are littered with reports of terrorism, mass shootings, protests on college campuses, and a refugee crisis. The world feels like shattered glass, unsure and unclear of its identity.

How to make sense of it all?

In this course, you’ll join a global conversation about questions on identity and current events.  Guided by curated excerpts from the 1996 book In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong, by Amin Maalouf, you will learn about the multiple dimensions of identity; the roots of violence and tribalism; and the value of embracing multiple allegiances and affiliations. To structure this conversation, you’ll receive a discussion kit complete with a downloadable version of the text, a step-by-step facilitator’s guide, and background materials that will equip you to host a small group of friends or colleagues in a two-hour discussion of the first five chapters of Maalouf’s book.


Discussion-Based Course

Course Syllabus

PDF icon Download (113.42 KB)
  • Downloadable version of Amin Maalouf’s text
  • Step-by-step facilitator’s guide and background materials that will equip you to host a small group of friends or colleagues for a discussion
Section 1: Individual Preparation
  • Activity: Introduce Yourself to the Global Community
  • Activity: Pre-Meeting Checklist
  • Reading: Context on Amin Maalouf
  • Activity: Identity Plot
  • Reading: Amin Maalouf’s Text
  • Activity: Reflection and Optional Notetaking Worksheet
Section 2: Team Meeting using Discussion Guide
  • Discussion: Welcome and Introductions
  • Discussion: Group Norms
  • Discussion: Understanding Identity
  • Discussion: Violence and Identity
  • Discussion: A New Concept of Identity
  • Discussion: Wrap-Up
Section 3: Virtual Sharing with the Global Community
  • Activity: Reflection on Discussion

Supported By

This discussion guide has been drawn from the curriculum for Acumen’s Fellowship program.  This curriculum has been developed by Acumen’s Leadership team including Jacqueline Novogratz, Sasha Dichter and Bavidra Mohan who have years of experience hosting powerful conversations with emerging moral leaders from around the world.

What People Are Saying

Mark Arnoldy, Founder and CEO of Possible Health

“This reading is a valuable tool to enable diverse groups of people to come together and solve problems.”

Mark Arnoldy, Founder and CEO of Possible Health