Unify Challenge: College Bowl

Illustration - participating in a unify challenge

The power of different perspectives.

From cable news to social media, we tend to get information that confirms what we already believe. We live in media bubbles. And while it's human nature to find that comforting, it’s not so healthy for our country.

In October 2021, Unify America piloted the first-ever Unify Challenge College Bowl with 10 universities from across the county to help students share perspectives across differences and strengthen their civic muscles. Today, nearly 80 colleges and universities have joined as partners.

Here's how it works.

Two college students—total strangers from different schools with different political leanings or backgrounds—were matched into a one-on-one guided video conversation to talk about big goals for our country.

Yikes. Sound like trouble—or at least really awkward conversations? That’s what the students thought, too.

Animated GIF of a person being assigned a partner
illustrations looking at cal

How much time does this take to implement in my course?

The Unify Challenge College Bowl is designed with a super simple set-up.

From submitting your registration to the start of the College Bowl, this is a turnkey experience for faculty and staff. Most professors spend just 10-15 minutes reviewing and sharing materials with students, and the Unify America team takes care of the rest.

Download a handy dandy timeline for participating professors and university staff here.

Register your class or university

Professors dig the Challenge.

Unify America handled all the heavy lifting and provided professors materials for their classrooms, a unique landing page for student sign-ups, an attendance dashboard, and an impact report with the post-Challenge data.

Professors reported success across their diverse classrooms ranging in subjects from political science 101 and senior-level publc policy capstone classes to business communication.

Image of Professor Leah A. Murray, Ph.D

Professor Leah A. Murray, Ph.D.

Weber State University

Image of Professor Jeff Wilson

Professor Jeff Wilson

University of Illinois Chicago

Image of Professor Clark Friesen

Professor Clark Friesen

Lone Star College System

See an example landing page for studentsSee an example post-Challenge data report

Students make real connections.

Despite feeling nervous at the beginning, the majority of university students were surprised by how much they found agreement and how much they enjoyed a conversation with a stranger from a different “bubble.”

Here are stories from three students who participated in a College Bowl:

Mieko (University of Utah)

"It made me feel more comfortable to disagree with people... and hear the other side of things."

Jada (Western Michigan University)

"My partner was super cool and we had a lot of the same views. And even the times when we didn't, we were very understanding about being able to listen to each other."

Wyler (UW-Eau Claire)

"I definitely felt nervous going into the challenge...but we had a lot more in common than I would have thought going into it."

View videos from the 2023 Spring College BowlView more student testimonials from the College Bowl

The results are in!

8,170

students from 40 states

have participated in our bi-annual College Bowls since October 2021

167

universities & colleges

have participated in our bi-annual College Bowls since October 2021

84%

of participating students

rated the experience an 8 or higher (on a scale of 1-10)

99%

of participating professors

would recommend the Unify Challenge College Bowl to their colleagues and 80% plan to continue incorporating it in their future courses

Fall college bowl map
our partners

Thanks to all of our partnering universities, including:

Become a Partner University

Interested in bringing the Unify Challenge to your classroom or university? Schedule a 30-minute chat with our team, or sign up for our upcoming College Bowl.

Schedule a time to chat

Register your class or college for our next college bowl

Illustration - Character holding the American flag and pointing

Who’s Unify America?

Unify America is a cross-partisan nonprofit on a mission to replace political fighting with problem-solving. We create evidence-based interactive experiences that encourage constructive conversations across political ideologies and backgrounds.

Founded by Harry Nathan Gottlieb (founder of Jellyvision and Jackbox Games), we’re a team of game makers, tech makers, anthropologists, and business leaders who all share a passion for bringing Americans together.

Learn more