Crossing Divides Program

The Ronnie F. Heyman ’72 Crossing Divides Program

Students in a classroom with their backs to the camera listen to Dean Heather Gerken speak at the front of the room with Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg seated next to her.

The Ronnie F. Heyman ’72 Crossing Divides Program establishes a formal speaker series that brings together high-profile leaders from opposite sides of major national debates to discuss how they bridge differences and work to understand each other.

The program, announced in October 2023, is designed to foster discourse across the political and ideological spectrum and reinforce the core values of lawyering.

The Crossing Divides Program will also provide co-teaching opportunities for courses and support student initiatives that reinforce this work. 

“At a moment when the world is increasingly polarized, our ability to work through differences and uphold the finest values of this profession has never been more critical,” said Dean Heather K. Gerken. “At Yale Law School, we have a storied tradition of not only crossing divides, but forging friendships across divides.”

The Crossing Divides Program is part of the Tsai Leadership Program at Yale Law School.

Program Events

The Crossing Divides Program offered a full slate of events during the 2023-2024 academic year designed to demonstrate the importance of working across ideological divides. 


The program includes a formal speaker series as well as faculty panels, co-teaching opportunities for courses, and support for student-led initiatives — all themed around the importance of collegiality despite difference. Notable guest speakers included Bob Bauer, former White House General Counsel under President Barack Obama, in conversation with Ben L. Ginsberg, former Counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign; Judge J. Michael Luttig, Co-Chair of the American Bar Association Task Force for American Democracy, in conversation with Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor Heather K. Gerken; and Judge Thomas B. Griffith in conversation with former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. The program also invited judges to visit the Law School and discuss their cooperative working relationships on the bench. 


In April, Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan and Judge Amul Thapar visited the Law School as part of the Admitted Students Program, an event that was also open to current students. In March, two student groups — the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society — brought Chief Judge Boasberg and Judge Dabney Friedrich to the School for a Judges Chat with support from the Crossing Divides Program.