In an age of social isolation, what does it mean to belong?
Humanity is at an inflection point. Stress, disconnection, and increasing environmental degradation have people yearning for more than just material progress, personal freedom, or political stability. We are searching for deeper connection. We are longing to belong.
On Belonging is an exploration of the crisis of social isolation and of the fundamental human need to belong. It considers belonging across four core dimensions: in our relationships with other people, in our rootedness in nature, in our ability to influence political and economic decision-making, and in our finding of meaning and purpose in our lives, with lessons on how to create communities centered on human connection.
A trailblazing advocate and thought leader on questions of social connectedness, Kim Samuel introduces readers to leaders around the world who are doing the work to cultivate belonging. Whether through sports, medicine, music, business, culture, or advocacy, the people and programs in this book offer us meaningful lessons on building a world where we all feel at home.
About the Author
Kim Samuel is an activist, educator, and movement builder. She is the founder of the Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness and an academic lecturer at institutions including Oxford, Harvard, and McGill Universities. Samuel was recently named visiting scholar at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, University of Oxford and the first-ever Fulbright Canada ambassador for diversity and social connectedness. She lives in Toronto.
“Samuel . . . debuts with an innovative program for fostering community . . . The author’s interviews with a diverse roster of interlocutors . . . offer captivating profiles of what connection and community look like in action and effectively model the kind of cross-cultural relationships she encourages readers to develop. This compassionate journalistic treatise on building more inclusive communities hits the mark.”
— Publishers Weekly
“How do we overcome the division and despair that threaten to consume us? Kim Samuel offers a powerful answer: We need to build experiences and institutions of belonging. In this timely, warm, and persuasive book, she shares stories and solutions for reclaiming common purpose and authentic connection. On Belonging is essential reading for anyone who wants to imagine and build a more inclusive future.”
— Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics and cofounder of CASEL
“On Belonging comes at the perfect time, when so many feel adrift and alone. Kim Samuel traveled the world to study the human need to belong and why so many don’t. Drawing on a stunning array of conversations, Samuel has written an important book that shows a path to a more connected future.”
— Mary Jordan
“On Belonging is a roadmap for escaping the isolation that has become so prevalent today. Kim Samuel shows the value of belonging and positions it at the center of nearly every facet of human life, from education to psychology, from caregiving to urban planning. This is an important book, both for describing a problem that is fundamental yet often neglected, and for proposing meaningful and effective solutions.”
— Kenneth Roth
“In this important book, Kim Samuel explores how we can find greater emotional, intellectual, ecological, and spiritual connectedness. There’s no human being alive who does not have a wealth of gifts to give. On Belonging shows how we can help every person know their worth and share what they have to give. It reveals how we can realize our right to belong.”
— Graça Machel, founder, Graça Machel Trust
“With heart and soul, Kim Samuel makes the compelling case for a vision of human progress that’s both new and ancient. Our true well-being depends not on our wealth or technological sophistication but, rather, on our degree of shared belonging. Through powerful storytelling and analysis, this book helps us turn our focus to what really matters. On Belonging is an important book for the times in which we’re living.”
— Wade Davis
“Kim Samuel dives deeply into one of the most complex issues of twenty-first-century human existence, the results of which can be discovered in this compelling book. On Belonging draws narratives from profound life experiences, timeless literature, and cutting-edge academic research. The key to finding potential solutions to so many of the social, ecological, economic, and political challenges we face will be revealed within these pages. Find inspiration and even hope right here!”
— Annie Lennox, singer-songwriter and global feminist activist
“Kim Samuel has dedicated her entire life to ending isolation. Now with her lucidly written new book, On Belonging, she is showing the world that the keys to happiness are not ego-driven isolation or artificially imposed divisions, but mutuality, reciprocity, and relationships. On Belonging is a book urgently needed to heal the wounds caused by isolation and separation. Either we swim together or we sink together. Kim Samuel’s voice is a voice of wisdom, love, and compassion, and this is one of the most important and timely books of the year.”
— Satish Kumar, editor emeritus
“In On Belonging, my beloved goddaughter Kim Samuel shows how we can help build a world of love, respect, and trust. It’s a guide to how our whole society can operate on the principle of harmony. We can’t live without human connection. This book shows how we can all overcome the disconnection and reawaken the beauty. Read this book, y’awl!”
— Quincy Jones
“On Belonging is an urgently needed response to the terrible isolation which has shattered our societies. Drawing on her extraordinarily rich tapestry of interviews and experiences, Kim Samuel’s highly accessible and engagingly written book offers profound insights and should be read by the widest possible audience.”
— Ian Goldin, professor of globalization and development, University of Oxford
“In this remarkable book, Kim Samuel shows how we can and must increase our sense of belonging. Surveying all aspects of our lives, she uses powerful evidence and stories to demonstrate how we can do this. An informative and touching book.”
— Lord Richard Layard, professor and co-director, Well-Being Program, London School of Economics