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

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  • 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
The course already started. Can I still enroll?
You can enroll up to 2 weeks after the start date of the course.
When will the next course be offered?
We offer our courses a few times a year. Sign up for our emails to be notified of the next time the course will be offered.
Do I get a certificate for this course?
You will earn a Statement of Accomplishment if you complete 5 of 6 assignments, including the final assignment, by the last day of the course.
How do teams work?
We recommend you find friends or colleagues for your team that you can meet with in person each week. Each team member should register for the course individually. You’ll then be able to form your team on the NovoEd platform once the course begins.
Do I have to complete the course with a team?
While we believe taking the course with a team will give you the best experience and chance of completing the course, it is possible to complete the course individually if you wish.
What should I expect from the assignments?
You will create a Life Map, develop your own personal story, integrate it into a larger presentation, and record your presentation for feedback from your classmates. You should allocate at least one hour a week to complete each assignment.

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