Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Join the International Conference on: How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion?




Empathic Design
Empathy Circles

  Restorative Empathy Circles
Empathy Tent

Expert Interviews
Obama on Empathy


    Empathy Tests

The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy is the home of the global empathy movement. Our mission is to build a movement for creating a global worldwide culture of empathy and compassion. We do this through a variety of means.  First is by community organizing and by collecting, curating and organizing all the material we find on the internet on the topic.  A current  focus is on forming an International Empathy Trainers Association (IETA), an academic empathy training literature review meta-study, and public Empathy Tent listening deployments.


We are also a portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. The site  contains the largest collection of; articles, conferences, definitions, experts, history, interviews, organizations, videos, science and much more about empathy and compassion. To stay up to date on the latest, sign up for our Facebook: Page, Group and Causes  now.

Our current project is to develop our Empathic Design Trainings and Conference on, How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy? Contact us if you'd like to be involved in organizing this event. Let's help fill the empathy deficit by making people more aware of the fundamental importance of empathy and compassion in our lives. This is a collaborative project and we invite you to take part. Send an email if you'd like to get involved with the group or with creating this video, etc.


Empathy Cafe Magazine 
Searching the internet for the latest articles. Curated and organized into informative and attractive news pages. Subscribe for daily updates.


Empathy and Compassion
The latest news from around the world


Empathy and Animals
International News about Empathy & Compassion with, by and for Animals

Teaching Empathy

Articles about teaching & learning how to be more empathic & compassionate.

Empathy in the Workplace

Empathy and Justice


Blog Roll: Join the Quest 
interviews, panel discussions, etc,

We reached the 400+ Empathy Circles, Panels and Interviews milestone for our conference on how to build a culture of empathy and compassion!!!  There are over 400 hours of empathy and compassion experts from around the world talking about how we can build a movement to transform the world culture with empathy.

Bridging Empathy Walls
Arlie Hochschild


Arlie Hochschild is an American sociologist and academic. She is professor emerita of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. Hochschild has long focused on the human emotions which underlie moral beliefs, practices, and social life generally. Arlie is author of: Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.


Publisher's Weekly notes:
"After evaluating her conclusions and meeting her informants in these pages, it's hard to disagree that empathy is the best solution to stymied political and social discourse."

Berlin Wall, by Thierry Noir

"An empathy wall is an obstacle to deep understanding of another person, one that can make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs or whose childhood is rooted in different circumstances." 

"We, on both sides, wrongly imagine that empathy with the "other" side brings an end to clearheaded analysis when, in truth, it's on the other side of that bridge that the most important analysis can begin."

"We are all the surveyors, drafters, and followers of "empathy maps" which show us whom and whom not to empathize with. Just as political maps can be drawn and redrawn, so too can empathy maps - depending on the interplay of gender, race, class, and nationality."


The Empath's Survival Guide
Judith Orloff & Edwin Rutsch

Judith Orloff, MD is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, has helped patients find emotional freedom for over 20 years. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality to achieve physical and emotional healing. She is the author of The Empath's Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People.

 "Having empathy means our heart goes out
to another person in joy or pain,"


"Energy doesn't lie.
Keep sensing it, trusting it, letting it liberate you.


Sub Conference: Empaths

How Might We Build a More Empathic Culture?
Personal Theology: Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley
Edwin Rutsch

Edwin Rutsch is the founding director of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy and the founder of the International Empathy Trainers Association. The center’s website,, is the internet''s most comprehensive portal for empathy-related material, including interviews with over 300 experts on the topic.


He is a world traveler, a "seeker," a documentary filmmaker and has worked in the computer technology field. In his travels, he has interacted with a wide variety of cultures and peoples from all walks of life and learned to see and feel the common humanity of all people on the planet.


Empathy Stories: Heart, Connection, & Inspiration

Mary Goyer

 Mary Goyer is Holistic Counselor, Trauma Specialist, & Executive Coach. She supports organizations in cultivating innovative, collaborative, and productive work cultures. Individual coaching and team trainings focus on peak performance, conflict resolution, effective collaborative and feedback skills, and managing personality challenges that impede employee engagement.


She is editor of: Empathy Stories: Heart, Connection, & Inspiration. Empathy Stories is a collection of uplifting stories and anecdotes highlighting empathy-in-action in real conversations. These stories show what's possible when compassion comes first between family, co-workers, and perfect strangers in difficult - even life threatening - interactions. In Empathy Stories: Heart, Connection, & Inspiration, Mary Goyer invites over thirty communication experts to share their most teachable stories showcasing how simple and powerful true empathy is.


"What a difference it makes when a dash of empathy
 is added into tense or important conversations
 of every magnitude."

The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais


Empathy and the Danish Way of Parenting
Jessica Joelle Alexander

Jessica Alexander is an American expat, author, columnist and cultural trainer. She graduated with a BS in a psychology and went on to teach communication and writing skills in Scandinavia and central Europe. Married to a Dane for 13 years, she lives in Rome with her husband and two children, Sophia and Sebastian. She is the co-author of The Danish Way of Parenting; What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids.

 "The Danes' highly developed sense of empathy is one of the main reasons that Denmark is consistently voted one of the happiest countries in the world (this year it is once again number one). Empathy plays a key role in improving our social connections, which is a major factor in our overall happiness."


 Stress Solution: Using Empathy to Reduce Stress, Anxiety, Fear and Develop Resilience
Arthur Ciaramicoli

 Arthur P. Ciaramicoli is a licensed clinical psychologist. He is the author of The Stress Solution: Using Empathy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Reduce Anxiety and Develop Resilience and The Power of Empathy: A Practical Guide to Creating Intimacy, Self-understanding and Lasting Love.  He has been treating clients for more than 35 years. Arthur is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Massachusetts Psychological Association. Currently in private practice, he has been on the faculty of Harvard Medical School for several years and a lecturer for the American Cancer Society.


"Empathy calms the emotional brain so that we can perceive situations and interactions accurately and thoughtfully. With empathy, we produce our own natural stress-reducing chemicals that create calm, focused energy, allowing us to do and be our best."

The Scream - Edvard Munch

"Positive relationships and involvement in meaningful group experiences create resilience and lessen stress. Such experiences stimulate the release of oxytocin, the compassion hormone. This hormone produces feelings of security and calm and inhibits stress and anxiety: thus it protects us against the release of cortisol.... while cortisol make us fearful, oxytocin makes us feel comfortable, secure, and in a position to give and receive empathy... The good news is that we can produce this effect with practice by expanding our abilities to communicate with empathy."


How Empathy Can Close the Gap Created by Crime
Pete Wallis

Pete Wallis is the senior practitioner in restorative justice for Oxfordshire Youth Offending Service. He has facilitated hundreds of restorative meetings and written or co-authored several books and articles on the subject including, Understanding Restorative Justice: How Empathy Can Close the Gap Created by Crime and What Have I Done?: A Victim Empathy Programme for Young PeopleIn 2011 he set up a charity to support young crime victims, and he is a consultant for the new Restorative Services Quality Mark.



"Victim empathy work helps them to acknowledge that it is real people that they have harmed. Empathy engenders a sense of shared experience, and an identification with and understanding of the other person's situation, feelings and motives. Empathy has the potential to profoundly change our interactions with one another."


 Sub Conference: Justice

Developing an Empathic Way of Being
with Emotion-Focused Therapy
Robert Elliott


Robert Elliott is Professor of Counselling in the Counselling Unit at the University of Strathclyde, where he directs its research clinic and teaches counselling research and emotion-focused therapy. A professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Toledo (Ohio), he is co-author of several books.

He previously co-edited Psychotherapy Research, and Person-Centered Counseling and Psychotherapies, and is a Fellow in the Divisions of Humanistic Psychology, Psychotherapy, and Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association. He also teaches workshops about empathy around the world.



"Psychotherapist empathy has had a long and sometimes stormy history in psychotherapy. Proposed and codified by Rogers and his followers in the 1940's and 1950's, it was put forward as the foundation of helping skills training popularized in the 1960's and early 1970's."

Sub Conferences: Science

Developing an Empathic Way of Being
in Healthcare

Jeremy Howick

Jeremy Howick is senior researcher at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Services at University of Oxford.  His research lies at the crossroads of philosophy and medicine. His interest in empathetic care grew out of his interest in placebo effects.  Jeremy is also founder and director of the The Oxford Empathetic Care Program.


The Oxford Empathetic Care Programme (OxCare) is an interdisciplinary research group that includes medical practitioners, philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists.

Aims:  Promote the importance of empathy in clinical practice. This includes empathetic relationships between patients (and their families) and healthcare practitioners, as well as empathetic relationships between healthcare systems and patients/practitioners.


1. To develop and maintain a glossary of empathy (and related terms) definitions
2. To maintain a database of key measures of empathy
3. To identify and reduce contextual obstacles to empathy
4. Explore the relationship between evidence-based healthcare and empathetic healthcare
5. To develop empathy training for healthcare practitioners and healthcare managers
6. To develop a research program
7. To identify obstacles and facilitators to empathy
8. Explore the relevance of empathy to professional burnout and stress
9. To investigate whether the current model of revalidation is empathetic
10. To investigate how can empathetic care improve value-based healthcare

The Doctor by Luke Fildes (Wikipedia)

Sub Conference: Health Care

Empathy in Conflict Intervention
Richard Bowers and Nelle Moffett interviewed by Edwin Rutsch

Richard Bowers introduces himself by saying,  In addition to my private practice, I am a guest lecturer at Antioch University Midwest's Integral Studies in Conflict & Leadership program, I serve as a Ventura County Small Claims Court mediation supervisor through the Ventura Center for Dispute Settlement, and I mediate cases through the Los Angeles and Ventura County Superior Courts. My private practice, working with Nelle Moffett, involves workshops, practice groups, and working with individuals and couples focusing on communication and conflict coaching.

Nelle and I co-authored Empathy in Conflict Intervention: The Key to Successful NVC Mediation. This book brings together theories from psychology, conflict resolution, and sociology to explore the effectiveness of empathy in mediation.

From the book:
"What empathy provides for the mediator is a way to create an unbiased connection with each client without reverting to a cold aloofness that is sometimes taught in mediation training."

The Intervention of the Sabine Women - Jacques-Louis David (wikipedia)

"The impact of mediator empathy towards both parties may provide the support needed for successful mediation even when there is no ongoing relationship between the parties.  A better understanding of the power of empathy could lead to increased usage of empathy in mediation. This increased usage of empathy could increase perspective-taking by the parties within mediations, leading to increased connection, collaboration, or satisfaction with the mediation process for both mediators and disputants. "

Sub Conference: Justice

 In Defense of Empathy and Justice
John Gibbs

John Gibbs is a professor of developmental psychology at The Ohio State University and the author of Moral Development and Reality: Beyond the Theories of Kohlberg, Hoffman, and Haidt. John says, my interests pertain to cross-cultural sociomoral development, parental socialization, empathy, prosocial behavior, and antisocial behavior. I have, with students and colleagues, developed assessment measures of moral judgment, moral identity, social perspective-taking, self-serving cognitive distortions, and social skills. Together with
Martin Hoffman he wrote an article, Hillary has a point: In defense of empathy and justice.


Fresco of the Judgment of Solomon, (Wikipedia)


Hillary Rodham Clinton had a point when she recently urged:
"The most important thing each of us can do... is to try even harder to see the world through our neighbors' eyes, to imagine what it is like to walk in their shoes, to share their pain and their hopes and their dreams"....

we emphasize that empathy and justice are co-primary or mutual. If justice serves empathy, the reverse is certainly also true ...

Morality is most objective and compelling when justice and empathy align. That is, the moral prescription to act is strongest when victims are both wronged and harmed


 Sub Conference: Justice

The Power of Empathy and Focusing
Ann Weiser Cornell

Ann Weiser Cornell is an author, educator, and worldwide authority on Focusing, the self-inquiry psychotherapeutic technique developed by Eugene Gendlin. She has written several definitive books on Focusing, including

Ann has taught Focusing around the world since 1980, and has developed a system and technique called Inner Relationship Focusing.  She says,

" I want to say first of all how much I admire your work and how much I believe in what you are doing, because I believe that empathy can move mountains. Empathy can change the world. And it changes situations when we bring empathy in...


So the power of empathy to open a space where something new can happen is enormously impressive and yes, in 44 years now of working with Focusing and listening, I've seen it over and over and over again.  Now that is very powerful.


So what I would say is,
empathy releases impass

That is true and we see it all over the place when it's possible in groups, in working groups, even people who
love each other."


Empathy-Based Family Life with Hand in Hand Parenting
Craig Appel

Craig Appel is the Executive Director of Parenting by Connection that uses the Hand in Hand Parenting approach. They say, "Our mission is to provide parents with insights, skills, and support they need to listen to and connect with their children in a way that allows each child to thrive. We do this through easy-to-access support, classes, and literature. We offer vital information to help parents deal with issues from children biting and kids' temper tantrums to learning issues and bullying on playgrounds and in schools."


"I started to see that helping parents and changing the dynamic in the family and how children are raised is a huge leverage point for changing the world. Raising empathic children... has huge butterfly rippling effects in terms of changing the world...

We model the behaviour of listening with empathy, and that is how we help them grow into social and emotionally intelligent children."

Sub Conference: Empathic Family

Philosophers Empathy Circle

For & Against Empathy  
Lori Gruen, Jesse Prinz and Edwin Rutsch

With David Hume looking over his their shoulders, Edwin Rutsch facilitates a new way for philosophers to dialog with each other about their views. Instead of a competitive debate, they try to empathize with each others feelings, needs, points of view and understandings. Edwin facilitates this Philosophers Empathy Circle with Jesse Prinz who is 'against empathy' and Lori Gruen who is 'for empathy'. Check out this fascinating process and discussion. How will it end?


The School of Athens, by Raphael (Wikipedia)


Jesse Prinz is Distinguished Professor at City University of New York and
 author of 'The Emotional Construction of Morals'.


"empathy is prone to biases that render it potentially harmful...
I argue that, instead of empathy, moral judgments involve emotions
such as anger, disgust, guilt, and admiration. These, not empathy,
provide the sentimental foundation for morality."

Lori Gruen is Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University and
author of 'Entangled Empathy: From an Ethics of Justice to an Ethics of Empathy'

"Empathy is also something we are taught to "get over" or grow

out of. We learn to quash our caring reactions for others, and

our busy lives and immediate preoccupations provide

 excuses for not developing empathy."

"I feel we need to build a global culture of empathy.
 It's the only way humanity and the planet can survive."

Nurturing Empathic Family and Parenting
Robin Grille
"Our job is to be the teachers of empathy - We are empathy farmers!"

Robin Grille is an "empathy farmer", father, a psychologist in private practice with twenty years' experience, and a parenting educator. His articles on parenting and child development have been widely published in Australia and overseas. Robin's first book: 'Parenting for a Peaceful World'  has received international acclaim and led to speaking engagements around Australia, USA and New Zealand. 'Heart to Heart Parenting' is Robin's second book.

A passionate speaker and social change activist, Robin's extensive research has led him to feel that improved attention to babies' and children's emotional needs is the most powerful way to move societies toward sustainability and peace.


"The human brain and heart that are met primarily with empathy
the critical early years cannot and will not grow to
choose a violent or selfish life.


"Building of human empathy is one brick at a time and sometimes
bricks come down in the building process.


"Nobody can escape life's struggles and traumas, but those who have experienced the empathy that helped them build a strong sense of self in childhood tend to have a strong foundation for emotional resilience and can draw on positive internal resources to help them resolve and rebound."

Sub Conference: Empathic Family

  Entangled Empathy: From an Ethics of Justice to an Ethics of Empathy
Lori Gruen

Lori Gruen is Professor of Philosophy, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University where she also coordinates Wesleyan Animal Studies. Her work lies at the intersection of ethical theory and practice, with a particular focus on issues that impact those often overlooked in traditional ethical investigations, e.g. women, people of color, non-human animals. She has published extensively on topics in animal ethics, ecofeminism, and practical ethics more broadly.  Lori is author of, Entangled Empathy, An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals.

"Empathy is also something we are taught to "get over" or grow

out of. We learn to quash our caring reactions for others, and

our busy lives and immediate preoccupations provide

 excuses for not developing empathy."

Edward Hicks - The Peaceable Kingdom (Wikipedia)

From the book description, "In Entangled Empathy, scholar and activist Lori Gruen argues that rather than focusing on animal "rights," we ought to work to make our relationships with animals right by empathetically responding to their needs, interests, desires, vulnerabilities, hopes, and unique perspectives. Pointing out that we are already entangled in complex and life-altering relationships with other animals, Gruen guides readers through a new way of thinking about - and practicing - animal ethics."

Sub Conferences: Science

 Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work
Indi Young

"Indi Young is an expert consultant in user experience, offering her services in empathy research, strategy, and redesign to organizations around the world. She has helped with digital applications, services, process design, and content strategy. She focuses on helping engineers, designers, and stakeholders tackle the hardest problems by understanding the people they're trying to support. Indi offers workshops for any size group and provides consulting on an affordable basis. She offers her services directly and also through the Rosenfeld Media Experts group."    Indi is author of, Practical Empathy: For Collaboration and Creativity in Your Work(Put in the promotion code "CULTURE" for a book discount on the Rosenfeld publisher website)

"Conventional product development focuses on the solution.
Empathy is a mindset that focuses on people, helping
you to understand their thinking patterns
and perspectives.

Detroit Industry, Diego Rivera (Wikipedia)

From the book forward. "Indi Young's book is a practical manual for practicing empathy, which is a skill, not an innate talent. Empathy is a mindset that can be learned and improved with practice. There are best practices, techniques, and tools that help you get your own ego out of the picture and focus on what things are like from another person's perspective. It is not easy to do really well, but it is worth doing really well! And Indi's book shows you how to do it. Practical Empathy offers advice on how to practice an empathetic mindset toward other people involved in the conception, design, or implementation of a product."

Sub Conference: Human-Centered-Design and Business and Work


Empathic Design Team

Our human-centered design team meets every Tuesday at 10 am to 12:30 pm, as well as other dates and times. We meet at the Oakland HUB.
2323 Broadway, Oakland, CA

The empathy team is
open for others to join. 

Email Edwin if you would like more information and to join the team.

We won the Impact HUB Oakland
$5k Unlimited Membership!

Human-centered design begins from deep empathy and understanding of
needs and motivations  of people - the parents, neighbors, children,
colleagues, and strangers who make up your everyday community.
Acumen Course Handbook

Sub Conference: Human-Centered-Design

Empathy and Morality
Heidi Maibom

Heidi L. Maibom is professor of philosophy at University of Cincinnati. She studied at University of Copenhagen, University of Bologna, and University College London, and has held fellowships at Cambridge and Princeton Universities. She works on folk psychology, empathy, responsibility, and psychopathy. Heidi is the editor and contributor to the book, Empathy and Morality. She wrote the first chapter titled, Introduction: Everything you ever wanted to know about empathy.


Empathy and Morality, the book publisher's description: "This collection is dedicated to the question of the importance of these capacities to morality. It brings together twelve original papers in philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, and neuroscience to give a comprehensive overview of the issue and includes an extensive survey of empathy and empathy-related emotions.


Some contributors argue that empathy is essential to core cases of moral judgments, others that empathic concern and moral considerations give rise to wholly distinct motives. Contributors look at such issues as the absence of empathy in psychopaths, the use of empathy training for rehabilitating violent offenders, and the presence of empathy in other primates. The volume is distinctive in focusing on the moral import of empathy and sympathy."

 "The Good Samaritan" by Francois-Leon Sicar (wikipedia)

 "It brings together twelve original papers in philosophy, psychology,

psychiatry, anthropology, and neuroscience to give
a comprehensive overview of the issue and includes
an extensive survey of empathy and
empathy-related emotions."

Sub Conferences: Science


Empathy Connects and Removes the Blocks to Action!
Dominic Barter

Dominic Barter plays with dialogue and partnership, focusing primarily in the fields of education, justice, culture and social change. In the mid-90s he collaborated in the development of Restorative Circles, a community-based and -owned practice for dynamic engagement with conflict that grew from conversations with residents in gang-controlled shantytown favelas in Rio de Janeiro.

He adapted the practice for the Brazilian Ministry of Justice's award-winning national projects in Restorative Justice and supports its application in a further 25 countries. In recent years he has supervised the mediation program for the Police Pacification Units in Rio, served as invited professor at the Standing Group for Consensual Methods of Conflict Resolution, at the High Court of Rio, with a focus on school mediation and bullying, and focused on the development of restorative community. Currently Dominic directs the Dialogue Restoration project for the State Education Department of Rio de Janeiro and partners with the Centre for the Study of Public Security and Citizenship at Candido Mendes University.

La danse -  Henri Matisse (Wikipedia)

There's something really unique about empathy,
 that it clears the things that are blocking action,
and that it connects both inside and
to other people in a way that

is transformative.

As a long time student and colleague of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg Dominic serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Nonviolent Communication, shares Nonviolent Communication throughout Brazil and internationally, and supports its learning in project-based, community contexts. He has been active in the street movements and occupations in Rio in recent years. He's the very happy dad of an amazing 14 year old. You can find out more about Restorative Circles at

Sub Conference: Justice

Beyond Compassion Fatigue:
The Transactional Model of Physician Compassion

Antonio Fernando

Antonio (Tony) Fernando is a medical doctor and Senior Lecturer at the School of Medicine in the University of Auckland located in Auckland, New Zealand. His research interests include diagnosis and treatment of insomnia and other sleep disorders. He is currently working on a PhD on compassion in healthcare.


Tony wrote an article titled;  Beyond Compassion Fatigue: The Transactional Model of Physician Compassion.  He writes, "Paradoxically, despite being central to the practice of good medicine, the bulk of studies across the past two decades have been focused not on compassion, but on compassion fatigue....


Anatomy of the heart - Enrique Simonet  (Wikipedia)


We have suggested that the scientific study
of compassion in medicine may be enhanced
when conducted within a transactional framework...


"We have suggested that the scientific study of compassion in medicine may be enhanced when conducted within a transactional framework in which compassion is viewed as stemming from the dynamic interactions between physician, patient, clinical, and institution/environment factors. The Transactional Model of Physician Compassion offers a framework within which to identify and organize the barriers and facilitators of physician compassion and thus better inform future interventions aimed at enhancing physician compassion."

Sub Conference: Health Care


Panel 26: What is the Relationship Between Self-Empathy, Empathy,
Self-Compassion & Compassion?

In this panel discussion, Kristin Neff, Christopher Germer and Edwin Rutsch discuss the question,
What is the Relationship Between Self-Empathy, Empathy, Self-Compassion & Compassion?  There is a great deal of confusion about the meanings and definitions of self-empathy, empathy, self-compassion & compassion. We might be talking about the same experience, but are using different words, or are talking about different experiences and are using the same word, etc.


The Good Samaritan by Aime Morot  (Wikipedia)


There is a great deal of confusion about the meanings and
definitions of self-empathy, empathy, self-compassion
& compassion. We might be talking about the same

experience, but are using different words.

Some people, for instance, say there is compassion fatigue. Recently some in the compassion community have been saying it's really empathy fatigue. Kristin feels personal distress may be a more accurate term. Edwin feels there is no such thing as compassion or empathy fatigue, it is really more accurately described as empathy and compassion deficit fatigue. Join us for a wide ranging dialog about this and more with leaders in the field of empathy and compassion.

Kristin Neff is Associate Professor in Human Development and Culture, Educational Psychology Department, University of Texas at Austin. Kristin is author of Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind.

Christopher Germer is a clinical psychologist in private practice, specializing in mindfulness and acceptance-based treatment.  He is a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School and a founding faculty member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. Chris is author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions

Edwin Rutsch is founding director of The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. The center is a portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion.


Sub Conferences: Science and Self-Empathy

Empathy and Democracy: Feeling, Thinking, and Deliberation

Michael E. Morrell is Associate Professor, University of Connecticut. His main research interests examine the connections between empathy and democracy, the effects of direct democratic participation on citizens, and the role of political efficacy in democracy, public opinion, and political behavior. He is also continuing to explore his theory of the role of empathy in democracy as it relates to topics ranging from President Barack Obama to agonistic democracy. Michael is author of Empathy and Democracy: Feeling, Thinking, and Deliberation. He writes:


"Today's democracies are still struggling to fulfill democracy's
 promise of equal consideration, and the claim I will defend
is that they can do so most fully by giving
 empathy a central role in democratic
decision-making. "


Signing of the U.S.Constitution - Junius Brutus Stearns (Wikipedia)


"only by placing empathy at the heart of deliberation
can democracy fulfill its promise of
 allowing legitimate decisions that
 give equal consideration to
all those in society."

Building New Authentic Empathy Communities & Cultures
Kelly Bryson

Kelly Bryson, MA, MFT is the author of the best selling book, Don't Be Nice, Be Real - Balancing Passion for Self with Compassion for Others. He is a licensed therapist in private practice, lecturer, workshop facilitator, and consultant. He has been an authorized trainer for the International Center for Nonviolent Communication for over 20 years, and has trained thousands in the US, Europe, and the Middle East. Kelly is also a humorist, guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He in now working on building new authentic empathy communities & cultures.

Kelly writes, "When I empathize with someone, I become a strong and gentle wind, filling the sailboat of the other's inner exploration.  As the Wind, I have no control over the steering of the boat.  That is left up to the captain of the ship, the person I am being present to.  I do not try to direct, only connect with where the other is in this very present moment.  I bring in no ideas of thoughts about the past or the future.  I bring in no thoughts of my own.  I have no preference for where we go on this journey - only that it come from the captain's heart and choice.  The purpose of my presence is connection, never correction.  I am a steady, present trade wind, not an impatient and gusty gale."

Sailboats Racing on Delaware - Thomas Eakins (Wikipedia)

 When I empathize with someone,
I become a strong and gentle wind,
 filling the sailboat of the other's
 inner exploration

 "Empathy brings in nothing from the past. When I am empathizing I am not remembering when I was having a similar experience. In one sense I am not even there. The only thing present is your experience, feelings and stories. I am being with the felt sense of them. Relating to another experience is about you. Empathizing is about them. Some people get so caught up in the fear of wondering whether they are empathizing correctly that very little empathy or attention is left to be with the other. It is not really about doing empathy or giving empathy - it is being empathy."
Sub Conference: Compassionate Communication (NVC) and
Building Empathic Community

 On Carl Rogers and Being Empathic
Gay Leah

Gay Leah Barfield was a Fellow of Center for Studies of the Person for nearly 30 years where she created one of the first Women's Centers in San Diego, as well as the 22 year long series of "Living Now" Summer Institutes.  With Carl R. Rogers she co-directed the Carl Rogers Institute for Peace, applying person-centered principles to real and potential international crisis situations, for which Dr. Rogers was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987.  


Gay wrote the forward to: Being Empathic: A Companion for Counsellors and Therapists, by Steve Vincent. She published several chapters in person-centered texts over recent years relating to feminism and politics and PCA, with additional journal articles.




Empathy is a special way of coming to know another
and ourself, a kind of attuning and understanding.
When empathy is extended, it satisfies our
needs and wish for intimacy, it rescues us
from our feelings of aloneness.
Carl Rogers


Semi-retired, she continues to see private clients, mentor and train MA graduate student therapists at the University of Hawaii in Hilo, as well as write and publish about her experiences over the past 40 years as a "gatherer," social activist, and stubborn idealist. Her immediate concern for increasing civil discourse, based on Rogerian principles, particularly as applied to the political dialogue process, is paramount among her interests.


Gay and I talked about her work with Carl Rogers, her insights into the nature of empathy and what she sees as the many benefits of empathy.
Sub Conferences: Science:

What's Wrong With Empathy?
Denise Cummins

Denise Dellarosa Cummins is a retired Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Philosophy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include the evolution and development of higher cognition in artificial and biological systems.

Her experimental investigations focus on Causal Cognition, Social Cognition, and Moral Cognition. Denise is an author and contributor to several books including, Good Thinking and The Other Side of Psychology. She wrote an article titled, What's Wrong With Empathy, as a response to 'The Case Against Empathy' by Paul Bloom in The New Yorker.

She writes, "To most of us, the idea that empathy is a good thing is a no brainer. The more we empathize with the plight of others, the more ethical and moral we behave towards them. Yet a number of psychologists and philosophers reject this view....

Philosophers:  The School of Athens - Raphael (Wikipedia)

To most of us, the idea that empathy is a good thing
 is a no brainer.
... Yet a number of psychologists
and philosophers reject this view....

Some experts believe empathy leads to bad moral judgments and bad social policy... The desire to censure empathy stems from the belief that empathy and other emotions necessarily lead to anarchy and retributive justice, while reason necessarily leads to order and good judgment. Yet sufficient evidence from the annals of human history plainly shows that reason, untempered by empathy, is just as likely to lead to tyranny and genocide as it is to lead to good judgment. When compassion and reason are decoupled, judgment is not improved. Instead, the door is opened to inhumane practices."
Sub Conferences: Science

For & Against Empathy: Is Empathy Necessary for Morality?
Jesse Prinz

Jesse Prinz is Distinguished Professor at City University of New York, Graduate Center. He says "I work primarily in the philosophy of psychology, broadly construed. I am interested in how the mind works. I think philosophical accounts of the mental can be fruitfully informed by findings from psychology, the neurosciences, anthropology, and related fields. My theoretical convictions are unabashedly empiricist. I hope to resuscitate core claims of British Empiricism against the backdrop of contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science."


Jesse wrote a couple of papers critical of empathy titled, 'Against Empathy' and 'Is Empathy Necessary for Morality?'  His work has been referenced by other articles critical of empathy like 'The Baby in the Well, The case against empathy' by Paul Bloom in The New Yorker and 'The Limits of Empathy' by David Brooks in the New York Times.

Danger - empathy may be harmful?

Peter Paul Rubens - Prometheus Bound  (Wikipedia)


Against Empathy:
"empathy is prone to biases that
render it potentially harmful.

In this engaging interview-dialog, Edwin Rutsch empathizes with Jesse about the problems he sees with empathy and replies to some of the criticisms.  Jesses says, "empathy is prone to biases that render it potentially harmful. Another construct-concern-fares somewhat better, but it is also of limited use. I argue that, instead of empathy, moral judgments involve emotions such as anger, disgust, guilt, and admiration. These, not empathy, provide the sentimental foundation for morality."

Sub Conferences: Science: Philosophy

 Empathizing with Paul Bloom's Concerns, Criticisms and
 Judgments of Empathy

Paul Bloom is a Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on language, morality, religion, fiction, and art.


Three Wise Monkeys   (Wikipedia)

Empathy has some unfortunate features  -
is parochial, narrow-minded, and innumerate.

We're often at our best when we're smart
enough not to rely on it.

Paul's article in the May edition of the New Yorker Magazine
, titled "The Baby in the Well, The Case Against Empathy" expresses some of his concerns about the current enthusiasm for empathy.  We are developing some empathic dialog to listen to and empathically hear and respond to these concerns.

Design for an Empathic World: Reconnecting People, Nature, and Self.
Sim Van der Ryn

Sim Van der Ryn has been a teacher, writer, researcher, and practitioner of design for forty years. A leading authority on ecologically sustainable architecture and design, he is Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 1961.


Sim is author of numerous books including his most recent, Design for an Empathic World: Reconnecting People, Nature, and Self.  "He advocates for "empathic design", in which a designer not only works in concert with nature, but with an understanding of and empathy for the end user and for ones self.  It is not just one of these connections, but all three that are necessary to design for a future that is more humane, equitable, and resilient."


In Design for an Empathic World, Sim Van Der Ryn weaves

the architecture of empathy for self, others and

nature into a vibrant, compassionate whole...


"In Design for an Empathic World, Sim Van Der Ryn weaves the architecture of empathy for self, others and nature into a vibrant, compassionate whole. Brimming with gratitude, Van Der Ryn tells stories from his life as an architect, teacher and thought leader. His lesson, that only with empathy can we repair the fabric of humans and nature." Jonathan F.P. Rose
Sub Conference: Human-Centered Design


Empathizing with Paul Bloom and his Case Against Empathy
Mary Gordon

Mary Gordon is the Founder, President and the inspiration behind Roots of Empathy & Seeds of Empathy.  She is recognized internationally as an award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert who has created programs informed by the power of empathy.

The Child's Bath - Mary Cassatt (Wikipedia)

 I tell them we need empathy in the water supply
 to prevent social decay.

Mary is author of Roots of Empathy: Changing the World, Child by Child.  She says, "When I talk to city officials,  I speak of the fact that there is fluoride in our water supply to prevent tooth decay.  I tell them we need empathy in the water supply to prevent social decay."

Organizing through Empathy: Introduction
Kathryn Pavlovich, Keiko Krahnke

Kathryn Pavlovich is Associate Professor at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. She has a special interest in conscious capitalism, enterprise, self-leadership, ethics and spirituality. Keiko Krahnke is Associate Professor at the University of Northern Colorado. She has research interest in empathy, systems thinking, ethics, and spirituality. In this interview, editors Kathryn Pavlovich and Keiko Krahnke  give a broad overview of the book and the individual chapters.


Charlie Chaplin - Modern Times (Wikipedia)

This book challenges the existing paradigm of capitalism
 by providing scientific evidence and empirical data that
 empathy is the most important organizing mechanism..

Organizing through Empathy. "This book challenges the existing paradigm of capitalism by providing scientific evidence and empirical data that empathy is the most important organizing mechanism.... Empathy dissolves the boundaries between self and others, and feelings of  altruism towards others are activated. This process results in more compassionate and caring contexts, as well as helping others in times of suffering. This book provides evidence from neuroscience and quantum physics that it is empathy that connects humanity, and that this awareness can create a more just society.

Sub Conferences: Workplace and Science

Organizing through Empathy: Chapter 10 The Caring Climate:
How Sport Environments Can Develop Empathy in Young People 

Lori A. Gano-Overway


Lori A. Gano-Overway is Associate Professor in Health and Exercise Science interested in the psychosocial aspects of physical activity. 


Lori teaches sport psychology, health and exercise psychology, motor behavior, research methods, and administration of sport and physical education programs


 Organizing through Empathy. "This book challenges the existing paradigm of capitalism by providing scientific evidence and empirical data that empathy is the most important organizing mechanism."

The Biglin Brothers Racing - Thomas Eakins (wikipaintings)

By developing empathy, youth learn to attend to emotional cues,
listen, become sensitive to others, understand another's

perspective, and read the needs of others...

"By developing empathy, youth learn to attend to emotional cues, listen, become sensitive to others, understand another's perspective, and read the needs of others, which allows them to work and live with others in community and act with compassion toward others' needs."  
Sub Conferences: Workplace and Science

Organizing through Empathy: Chapter 12
Peter Senge and Keiko Krahnke

Transcendent Empathy: The Ability to See the Larger System

Keiko Krahnke is Associate Professor of Management; Business Communications at University of Northern Colorado in the Montfort College of Business. Areas of research interests include spirituality and business, systems thinking, Appreciative Inquiry, and corporate citizenship.


Peter Michael Senge is an American scientist and director of the Center for Organizational Learning at the MIT Sloan School of Management.


Study for Yosemite Valley Glacier Point Trail - Bierstadt Albert  (Wikipedia)


We propose the notion of "transcendent empathy"
as the
ability to see these larger systems in time
and space, to move beyond mere
intellectual understanding


"We suggest that empathy is something broader than knowing or feeling another's psychological or emotional state. The fundamental concept of empathy is to care about another as if you were in the shoes of the other. Our purpose here is to expand this caring to the larger living systems of which we are part. We propose the notion of "transcendent empathy" as the ability to see these larger systems in time and space, to move beyond mere intellectual understanding to embrace "system sensing" as a doorway to other awareness of what exists now and to future possibilities."
Sub Conferences: Workplace and Science

How to Transform Medicine with Empathy and Stories
 Danielle Ofri

Danielle Ofri, MD is an essayist, editor, and practicing internist in New York City. She is an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital, and Associate Professor of Medicine at New York University School of Medicine.


Danielle is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Bellevue Literary Review, the first literary journal to arise from a medical setting. Danielle's newest book - What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine - explores the hidden emotional world of the doctor, and how this impacts the medical care that patients receive every day.


Healing the Sick - Domenico di Bartolo (Wikipedia)

It's no wonder that the third year of medical school
figures prominently in studies that document
decline of empathy and moral reasoning 
in medical trainees...

She writes, "It's no wonder that the third year of medical school figures prominently in studies that document decline of empathy and moral reasoning in medical trainees... the erosion of empathy, for example, may have long-reaching consequences. Patients of doctors who score lower on tests that measure empathy appear to have worse clinical outcomes. Diabetic patients, for instance, have worse control of their blood sugar and cholesterol. Cancer patients seem to experience more depression. Medication compliance diminishes. Even the common cold can last longer."
Sub Conference: Health Care and Arts


Panel 24: Moving Medical Culture from Detachment to Empathy,
   Jodi Halpern, Helen Riess, Edwin Rutsch  

Edwin Rutsch, Director of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy, hosts a discussion with two of the primary leaders in the movement to transform medical culture from detachment to a culture of empathy.

The Doctor - Luke Fildes (Wikipedia)

I've investigated what happens to patients when
their doctors show a lack of empathy...
only recently have studies proven just
how harmful detachment and how
beneficial empathy is for healing.
Jodi Halpern

Jodi Halpern M.D., Ph.D, is Associate Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Joint Medical Program and the School of Public Health.  She is author of From Detached Concern to Empathy: Humanizing Medical Practice.

Helen Riess M.D., Ph.D is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.  She is Chief Technology Officer of Empathetics which offers scientifically based empathy training proven to optimize interpersonal engagement.'

Sub Conference: Health Care

 Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Daniel Siegel

Daniel Siegel M.D. is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute. His training is in pediatrics and child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. Dan is the author of many books on parenting, child development, Mindsight, etc.including The Developing Mind, Second Edition: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being.


After bath  - Mary Cassatt (

When kids are able to watch an interaction that's empathic,
 empathy isn't just being taught;
it's being demonstrated,

Dan shared his understanding about the importance of empathy and how it works in the brain thought mirror neurons. "When kids are able to watch an interaction that's empathic, empathy isn't just being taught; it's being demonstrated," Talking about the importance of empathic attunement, Dan says, "When we attune with others we allow our own internal state to shift, to come to resonate with the inner world of another. This resonance is at the heart of the important sense of "feeling felt" that emerges in close relationships. Children need attunement to feel secure and to develop well, and throughout our lives we need attunement to feel close and connected."
Sub Conference: Science

 Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
 Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington is president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group.  She is the author of numerous books including, On Becoming Love, Work, and Life.   Here is an interview I did with Arianna via email.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

For the empathy movement, a critical mass is
when the empathy habit is cultivated by
enough people that it can begin
to spread spontaneously.

How can we build a culture of empathy?

"To a physicist a critical mass is the amount of radioactive material that must be present for a nuclear reaction to become self-sustaining. For the empathy movement, a critical mass is when the empathy habit is cultivated by enough people that it can begin to spread spontaneously. I think of it as an outbreak of a positive infection. And everyone has the potential to be a carrier. So one thing we can do is to spread it as widely as possible...  


I think the opposite of empathy is the projection of our own fears onto others. We've seen this over and over again throughout American history. In times of economic upheaval, when huge numbers of people are losing their jobs, losing their homes, and feeling powerless to do anything about it, it has always been the case that people look for scapegoats. Empathy is the antidote to that."

Sub Conference: Journalism and Media.

Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Oxytocin
Paul Zak


Paul J. Zak is Professor of Economics and Department Chair, as well as the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University. He is author of: The Moral Molecule: The source of love and prosperity, which explores the relationship between Oxytocin, empathy, compassion, trust, etc


Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun by Louise Elisabeth  (Wikimedia)

The change in
xytocin predicted their feelings of empathy.
 So it's empathy that makes us connect to other people.

It's empathy that makes us help other people.
It's empathy that makes us moral


"The Moral Molecule is a first-hand account of the discovery of a molecule that makes us moral. It reveals that compassion [and empathy] is part of our human nature, why loneliness can kill you, and why your neighbor may be a psychopath."
Sub Conference: Science


Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion
James Doty


James Doty is Stanford Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery and founding director of the Center for the Study of Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE).   

CCARE is striving to create a community of scholars
and researchers, including neuroscientists,
 psychologists, educators and philosophical and
contemplative thinkers
around the
study of compassion.

Der gute Samariter - Vincent van Gogh (Wikipedia)



The Nature of Empathy and Compassion
 Paul Ekman


The survival of the planet as we know it depends
 on global compassion...

If I was president, thank god I'm not, I would start a
 Manhattan Project on global empathy

If I was president, thank god I'm not, I would start a Manhattan Project on global empathy. It has the urgency of the Manhattan Project. It needs the bringing together of the best minds in the world to focus on this issue, because there is an urgency too it. I think Al Gore was right, that time is running out. We can't wait 20 or 40 years to figure out what to do with this problem."
Sub Conference: Science


Frans de Waal talks with Edwin about the Nature of Empathy

How can we build a culture of empathy?
I think it is important in society, especially at the moment. Now that we have come out of this period where greed was so good. I think it is important to emphasize that there are alternative ways of looking at society. A society where solidarity is important and caring about others is important. 

Neonatal (newborn) macaque imitating facial expressions (Wikipedia)

How can we build a culture of empathy?
I think it is important in society, especially at the moment. Now that we have come out of this period where greed was so good.
.. A cultural and educational change that emphasizes empathy more.

The other things, that I'm not an expert on, is education and culture of course. A cultural and educational change that emphasizes empathy more. I would also warn that empathy is not invariably positive. People think that empathy is automatically a positive characteristic. Empathy can be used for bad purposes also.
Sub Conference: Science

 How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Marco Iacobon

Marco Iacoboni is Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Director of the Marco Iacoboni Lab, UCLA Brain Mapping Center at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is author of, Mirroring People: The New Science of Empathy and How We Connect with Others.

"Empathy plays a fundamental role in our social lives. It allows us to share emotions, experiences, needs, and goals. Not surprisingly, there is much empirical evidence suggesting a strong link between between mirror neurons (or some general forms of neuronal mirroring) and empathy."


Venus with a Mirror - Titian  (Wikipedia)

 A culture of empathy can be increased by: 
becoming aware about our biological capacity
 for empathy through mirror neurons


In this interview, Marco Iacoboni challenges the traditional Western understanding of human nature as selfish and struggling for surviving and suggests that neurologically and evolutionally we are predispositioned to create empathic connections. A culture of empathy can be increased by: 

  • becoming aware about our biological capacity for empathy through mirror neurons, 

  • having intention to increase culture empathy, 

  • creating more empathic living environment 

  • decreasing the focus on differences and labeling 

  • increasing the focus on us (similarities)

  • increasing empathic behavior of governments, leaders and media....

Empathy Definitions, Measurements & Metrics
 Marco Iacoboni, Lidewij Niezink, Edwin Rutsch

In this second interview, Marco Iacoboni, Lidewij Niezink and Edwin Rutsch discuss Definitions, Measurements & Metrics of empathy.  Marco says, "I think what's interesting to me most is to define metrics of empathy. How can I measure this thing?  Why it matters? If we want to design interventions to improve empathy we need to agree upon ways of quantifying it. People do get bogged down in debates on definitions and don't even get to the point of trying to discuss metrics of empathic behavior. This slows down progress, I think"
Sub Conference: Science


Let's find 1 million people who want to build a culture of empathy and compassion. We can make that world a reality.  'Like' our new Facebook page and join us on Facebook Causes.




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