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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

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Panel 6: How does Empathy Show up in Your Restorative Justice Work?

Deb Witzel
Rhea Blash
Laura Snider
Beverly Title

Edwin Rutsch

1. How do you all think restorative justice helps build empathy? Do you have a story of when you saw it or felt it?
2. When you are sitting in a restorative justice process how do you know when empathy is happening?.
3. What ways do you work to build empathy when doing restorative justice?
4. What else would you like to say about restorative justice and empathy?
Sub Conference: Justice.


Panel 11: Nurturing Empathy in the Home: Attachment and Reflective Capacity


Elle McSharry

Kim Beuhlman

Sarah Schumacher

Edwin Rutsch

Nurturing Empathy in the home: Attachment and reflective capacity.  
Kim, Sarah and Elle discuss promoting empathy, reflection, safety, and compassion in relationships between adults and the infants and toddlers in their care.
Sub Conference: Home & Family.

Kathryn Lee: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Education

Kathryn Lee is Director of Innovation, Partnerships, and Service at Prospect Sierra School in El Cerrito, California. She was an organizer of the 'TEDxGoldenGateED: Compassion and Education Conference' held in Richmond, California which had over 700 attendees. Prospect Sierra is an innovative school that has been at the forefront of incorporating empathy and compassion into it's curriculum including the Root's of Empathy, the StartEmpathy programs, etc..

How can we build a culture of empathy?

Celebrate, Educate, Discover, and Uncover. I  believe that empathy is not only a muscle that needs regular exercise to stay strong, but that there are stages in the development of empathy, and  essential skills to be learned.  For example, if you feel for other people, but your speech doesn't convey that, then you might not really be helping to create a more empathetic society.

Also, to be an effective communicator in the world, one must know how to listen for understanding, convey that in words and body language, AND have advocacy skills. We can't listen our way out of a problem. Sometimes empathy requires strong action -- compassion -- and it might not always be cum-by-ah.
Sub Conferences: Education

Bhismadev Chakrabarti: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Science

Bhismadev Chakrabarti heads a research group at the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics at the University of Reading, UK. The group studies emotion perception, empathy, and autism using functional MRI, eye gaze tracking, and psychophysiology.  He works in collaboration with the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. Bhisma shared his insights into the physical nature of empathy and how we can build a culture of empathy.

"Empathy is the lens through which we view emotions in others. The highly empathic can sense others' emotions automatically, while those with lower empathy are often marked by a deficit in picking up socio-emotional cues from other people. Empathy exists in a continuum across the population, and our research here targets the following questions:
a) how does empathy influence the perception of emotions in others and in ourselves?
b) what are the neural and behavioral processes underlying empathy?"
Sub Conference: Science: Neuroscience.

Charles Eisenstein: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Sacred Economics

Charles Eisenstein is a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. He is author of: Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition. Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth.

David Hazen (author, Love Always Wins: Hope for Healing the Epidemic of Violence) and Edwin Rutsch, interview Charles about how to transform society and build a culture of empathy.  How to move from a culture of separateness, alienation, greed and selfishness to empathy, gift, connection and love.

Erika Rosenberg: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Education

Erika Rosenberg offers scientifically- and practically-based training and consultation in a wide range of areas associated with the study and/or understanding of human emotion, facial expressions of emotion, and the improvement of emotional functioning through meditation.

Erika has been practicing meditation for over 20 years. She is a senior teacher for Project Compassion at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University where she teaches the 9-week Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT). The training combines science, mindfulness and Compassionate Communications traditions.
Sub Conference: Science and Education 

Jim says we have to go beyond mindfulness to a transcendent connection between people. We can get beyond loneliness,  isolation and depression to have a more sustained happiness, by contributing to the wellbeing of others.
Sub Conference: Science

 Leah Weiss Ekstrom: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion

Leah Weiss Ekstrom is a Contemplative Educator whose research and teaching focuses on the application of meditation in secular contexts.  Currently, Leah is Director of Compassion Education at Stanford's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE).

Leah directs the CCARE: Compassion Training Course (CTC) professional education program as well as other educational initiatives such as the application of compassion meditation in schools.  "The Compassion Training Course is a nine-week program designed to develop the qualities of compassion, empathy, and kindness for oneself and for others. The CTC integrates traditional contemplative practices with contemporary psychology and scientific research on compassion. The program was developed at Stanford University by a team of contemplative scholars, clinical psychologists, and researchers."
Sub Conferences: Education

Joey Katona: How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Education

Joey Katona is the Project Manager for the Empathy Initiative ( at the world’s leading social entrepreneurship organization, Ashoka. He leads a small core team working to launch the Empathy Initiative in the US and globally. He participates in the strategic development of the start-up and works to creatively manage the day-to-day operations.

Joey develops ways to help the team stay on track toward its goals -- coordinating, sourcing, and following up on various partner and funder leads and helping manage external relationships. "Start Empathy, is a community of individuals and institutions dedicated to building a future in which every child masters empathy...

Start Empathy is not out to build a single program, curriculum, or silver-bullet fix. Rather, we're working to unleash demand for empathy as a core 21st century skill – collaborating with social entrepreneurs, educators, parents, and key players in the media, business, and academic sectors to make empathy as essential as reading and math in early education. Success will take all of us, and will require rethinking how we parent, educate, and raise our children in a world that is changing faster than ever before. "
Sub Conferences: Education

Laura Zax: Dialogs on How to Start Building a Culture of Empathy in Education

Laura Zax is Editor of the website. Start Empathy, an initiative of Ashoka, is a community of individuals and institutions dedicated to building a future in which every child masters empathy.

Laura is also CEO & Co-Founder - The Nighttime Adventure Society. "I make music and mischief".

"Empathy is critical both to individual human development and to our collective ability to solve problems and build a stronger society. Cultivating empathy can start with really simple actions, like taking the time to stop, breathe, and listen when your child comes to you with a problem. It can start with a bedtime story. It can start by understanding what your strengths are as a school or as a teacher, and in honing in on ways you can embed empathy into your teaching, culture, and behavior. The bottom line: it can start today."
Sub Conferences: Education

Meg Lyons: How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion with Charter for Compassion Pakistan

Meg Lyons is Executive Officer of the Charter for Compassion in Pakistan. Meg talked to us via her laptop while being driven through the streets of Karachi, Pakistan at night. It really brought home the power of communications technology to bring people together.

Meg talked about her value of courage and authenticity, as well as, about her work of promoting the Charter for Compassion in Pakistan.

'The Charter of Compassion is a cooperative effort to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more importantly, compassionate action to the center of our lives. Our programs, tools, and activities allow our stakeholders and partners the opportunity to explore the value of collaboration, empathy, and compassion within their own respective entities, and institutionalize these positive changes across all sections of society. '
Sub Conferences:

Muna Awad: Building Empathy with Charter for Compassion - Jordan

Muna Awad is Programs Director at the Charter for Compassion-Jordan. She has 15 years of experience working in education as teacher, trainer and private tutor. She worked as head of department for training youth.

Muna developed creative positive parenting tools: “Mother’s ToolBox” to help parents creatively overcome the challenges they face raising their children and be able to inspire them to become better people.   She feels education is the best way to build a culture of empathy and compassion.

Sub Conferences: Education

Carolyn Pedwell: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Carolyn Pedwell is a Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University in the UK. Author Feminism, Culture and Embodied Practice: The Rhetorics of Comparison.

Forthcoming Book: Affective Relations: The Transnational Politics of Empathy. 

How to build a culture of empathy?  .Realizing that 'empathy' is not one thing and that it may not always be positive. A critical approach to thinking through the politics of empathy needs to consider the ways in which empathy may produced, mobilized and be felt differently across different times, spaces and contexts. It also needs to take into account the risks and contradictions of practices of empathetic engagement, as well as their more productive possibilities.   Rather than thinking about empathy as a discrete or singular emotion, I'd recommend that we think more critically about the ways in which it is linked with other emotions, such as power, shame, etc.
Sub Conference: Science


Panel 04: Fostering Empathy With the Arts

Lynn Johnson
Seung Chan Lim
Joan Kuenz
Tal-Chen Rabinowitch
Eva Vigran
Edwin Rutsch

This panel of guest artists from the fields of dance, music, theater, and design, shared their personal insights of how empathy plays a vital part in their various art forms.  The artists also outlined how they would make empathy front and center in our culture through their art form.
Sub Conferences: Arts

Susan Partnow: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion

Susan Partnow is an organizational development and training consultant and teaches Compassionate Listening and many other

empathy and compassion building processes  Contributor to the book: Practicing the Art of Compassionate Listening


How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion?

1. Set the Intention (value it; talk about it; name and invite it).

2. Slow down to the speed of wisdom to make space for it.

3. From the Inside Out: Cultivate self awareness and regulation - know your triggers; do the practice with compassion & BE Compassion.

4.  Build community from these principles - to embrace conflict, differences, challenges as opportunities to deepen intimacy, understanding, connection - and find creative solutions like Restorative Circles.
Sub Conferences:

Leah Green: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion

Leah Green is Founder and Executive Director of the Compassionate Listening Project.

She has led 26 training delegations to Israel-Palestine, speaks and

  writes about Middle East peace-building, and has produced three documentaries about the conflict. Contributor to the book: Practicing the Art of Compassionate Listening.

Leah shared many personal stories about the power of empathy and compassion.
How to build a culture of empathy?
Training, I just believe that we need to integrate programs starting in school - meaning preschool, kindergarten, whatever age...and consistently include these programs at every level. For parents, I also think it would be incredibly helpful if every family had to have “training” before they have children.'  

Sub Conference: Education 

Andrea Cohen: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion

Andrea Cohen is a communications consultant, project developer, and facilitator who has been involved with the Compassionate Listening Project
 for many years. She is Author of: Practicing the Art of Compassionate Listening.
For Andrea, empathy is like the exquisite attunement of musical strings to each other. The opposite is chaos, discord, and the sound of finger nails on the chalk board. She offers ways and skills to create and deepen the attunement. 
How to build a culture of empathy? 
Listen with the heart and teach people specific conflict resolution skills they can use in the heat of conflict when they might tend to lose their ability to stay centered in the heart.
Sub Conference: Education 

Jan Hutton: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion

Jan has served as a community organizer, social worker in hospice and hospital settings, meditation teacher, group facilitator in the Quaker community and, she hopes, a ‘kind’ person. The guiding principle for Jan’s work as a facilitator is, “How do we look at those who differ from us and see our shared humanity?”

She offers Compassionate Listening Training with the strong belief that implementing peacemaking in the public sector makes it vital that we practice, heart to heart, that very same peacemaking in our personal lives. To build a culture of empathy we each take responsibility for acknowledging the fear that our own hearts might break when empathizing with someone else's pain?

Sub Conferences: Education

 Patricia Jennings: How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Education

Patricia (Tish) Jennings is Co-Leader of the "Program on Empathy Awareness and Compassion in Education (PEACE)" at Penn State University. "The PEACE area seeks to promote health and wellbeing in children, youth and families through the scientific understanding and promotion of awareness, compassion and empathy. The program includes faculty, research associates and students whose work focuses on developing a strong multidisciplinary science in this emerging area.

PEACE supports interdisciplinary scholarly activities ranging from theoretical essays to basic research on the development of awareness, compassion and empathy, to the design and evaluation of interventions intended to foster these attributes in individuals and relationships."    Sub Conferences: Science and Education 


Marc Bekoff: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Marc Bekoff  is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder and is a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society. He is author of numerous books including: The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy.

How we can go about building a culture of empathy?
I think about that a lot, in fact a book that I just sent off that will be out next year called, "Ignoring Nature No More: The Case for Compassionate Conservation". I see a lots of ways that we can build a culture of empathy...
Sub Conference: Science
Sub Conference: Animals

Dahlia Lithwick: How to Build a Culture of Empathy on the Supreme Court and Beyond

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate and is a commentator on various national media programs such as NPR, Rachael Maddow Show, Democracy Now, etc. She has written and commented on the role of empathy in relationship to the Supreme Court, same-sex marriage and woman's issues.

There was a great deal of contention and confusion about the nature of empathy during the last Supreme Court nomination hearings. We talked about preparing now, for the next Senate discussions and debates about the role of empathy in the justice system and Supreme Court.


"When Obama talked about empathy in “The Audacity of Hope,” he was very, very clear.  He didn‘t want judges to make stuff up so that the poor guy wins.  What he said is, put yourself in the other person‘s shoes, right?  That was his mom‘s credo. When he talks about empathy, I think all he‘s saying is, just listen.  Listen to what the other side is saying.  See if there is merit to their argument.  And then think it through." 
Sub Conference: Justice  and Media

Howard Zehr: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Restorative Justice

Widely known as “the grandfather of restorative justice,” Zehr began as a practitioner and theorist in restorative justice in the late 1970s at the foundational stage of the field.  Author of many books including The Little Book of Restorative Justice.

We talked about the role of empathy as a foundational value in the restorative justice movement. Edwin thinks a more accurate term would be restorative empathy.  Howard has said, "This vision of mutuality is supported by neuro science and attachment theory. The new neuro science is teaching us that we as a human being, our brains are designed to connect with other people."
Sub Conference: Justice

Stanford University Conference: Happiness Within Reach from Empathy & Compassion
   A one day long conference on happiness at Stanford University. The importance of empathy, self-compassion, compassion and connecting with others to being happy was a constant theme..

"And it turns out that this fear of having compassion for yourself is strongly correlated with fear of having compassion for others, and a lack of willingness to extend compassion to others. Self compassion is not letting ourselves off the hook and being self indulgent, it's about choosing to use our own happiness and our own desire for meaning and connection with others as our primary motivation, as opposed to using guilt shame and fear as our primary motivation."

Debbie Custance: Study on Dogs having Empathy for People in Distress

Debbie Custance is a lecturer at Goldsmiths College, Department of Psychology, London. She coauthored a study titled, 'Empathic-like responding by domestic dogs to distress in humans: An exploratory study'. 

The study tested how dogs respond to someone pretending to cry and be in distress.  The majority of dogs came over to the person crying in a way that seemed to express empathic concern.  "When the stranger pretended to cry, rather than approaching their usual source of comfort, their owner, dogs sniffed, nuzzled and licked the stranger instead.  The dogs’ pattern of response was behaviorally consistent with an expression of empathic concern..."

Sub Conference: Science and Animals & Nature.

Stanley Coren: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Dogs

Stanley Coren is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of many best-selling books on dogs including, 'How Dogs Think: Understanding the Canine Mind', 'How To Speak Dog' and 'The Modern Dog'.  

Stanley says empathy is the glue that connects us and that "there is a consensus that the mind of a dog is very similar in capacity and behaviors to the mind of a human 2 to 3-year-old." "Recent research demonstrates that dogs have empathy and recognize when humans are emotionally distressed. Their response is an attempt to comfort the unhappy person as best they can." One way to foster empathy in children is for children to have a dog, which helps them learn how to connect and relate to others. The dog will not judge them but offers empathic connection.
Sub Conference: Animals & Nature

Kevin Behan: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Dogs

Kevin Behan is a dog trainer and has written articles about empathy in dogs. He is author of: Your Dog Is Your Mirror: The Emotional Capacity of Our Dogs and Ourselves. "canine cognition labs around the world are conducting experiments to elucidate how dogs have become so attuned to human beings that they seem to have developed a capacity for empathy. But is this kind of empathy a form of emotional contagion or a form of higher cognition? Or is it something else entirely?... "
Sub Conference: Animals & Nature

Lee Charles Kelley: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Dogs

Lee Charles Kelley is a dog trainer and has written articles about empathy in dogs. He writes a blog in Psychology Today called 'My Puppy, My Self: How dogs make us human'. Lee and I talked about the nature of empathy in dogs from Lee's perspective of working with dogs as a trainer and having been an actor. We also reviewed the study, 'Empathic-like responding by domestic dogs to distress in humans', by Debbie Custance, and the related articles by Stanley Coren and Kevin Behan.
Sub Conference: Animals & Nature

Dennis Tirch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion

Dennis Tirch is a compassion focused psychologist specializing in the practice of awakening.  He is Associate Director, American Institute for Cognitive Therapy as well as, Founder and Director of The Center for Mindfulness and Compassion Focused Therapy.

We held a wide ranging discussion about how to foster empathy and compassion in society.  Dennis is author of: The Compassionate Mind Approach to Overcoming Anxiety. There are many factors that contribute to developing a mind that is prone to intense anxiety, and if you have such a mind, there are many things you can do to change the way it works. Research has shown that practicing kindness and compassion soothes experiences of fear, while self-critical thoughts tend to intensify them. 
Sub Conferences: Science

Alfred Kaszniak: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Science

Alfred Kaszniak is Professor and Head, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona. His publications focus on neuropsychological aspects of memory, emotion, aging, and age-related disorders of the central nervous system, particularly Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. His recent research has also examined emotion regulation and the cultivation of compassion in long-term Buddhist meditators.

His video taped presentation, 'Empathy & Compassion: Contemplative and Neuroscience Perspectives' gives an informative overview of the current understanding of the nature of empathy and compassion.

Sub Conferences: Science

Keiko Krahnke: How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Business

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. Currently interested in learning about human consciousness and teaching empathy and compassion.

She says, Empathy is wholeness and knowing that we are all part of one field and are interconnected. The opposite of Empathy is being trapped in narcissism.


Coauthor: Empathy, Connectedness and Organisation. 'In this paper, we conceptually explore the role of empathy as a connectedness organising mechanism. We expand ideas underlying positive organisational scholarship and examine leading-edge studies from neuroscience and quantum physics that give support to our claims. The perspective we propose has profound implications regarding how we organise and how we manage. First, we argue that empathy enhances connectedness through the unconscious sharing of neuro-pathways that dissolves the barriers between self and other.'
Sub Conferences:
Education and Workplace

Anita Nowak: PhD Dissertation: Pedagogy of Empathic Action as Informed by Social Entrepreneurs

In this interview, Anita Nowak talks about her PhD dissertation titled 'Introducing a Pedagogy of Empathic Action as Informed by Social Entrepreneurs.''

"I contend that our innate human empathy can be leveraged as a tool of social change through the practice of Empathic Action. Furthermore I argue that a Pedagogy of Empathic Action offers the best means by which to foster this."

Anita works to address five questions; What is empathy? 
What is Empathic Action?  Acting on empathy for another/others.
What group of individuals is already practicing Empathic Action?
How might narrative inquiry interviews with such individuals inform a Pedagogy of Empathic Action?  What are the broad strokes  of such a pedagogical approach?
Sub Conferences:
Education and Workplace

Art Markman: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Science 

Art Markman, PhD is a cognitive scientist at the University of Texas. He writes blog entries for Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Harvard Business Review, and


Author. Smart Thinking: Three Essential Keys to Solve Problems, Innovate, and Get Things Done

"Why Empathy Makes You More Helpful. There is a lot of research suggesting that empathy  increases people’s desire to help others. Empathy is the ability to share other people’s emotion. The better able you are to feel what someone else is feeling, the more likely you are to want to help them when they are in a difficult situation. This ability also extends to animals. We are able to project feelings onto animals like dogs, and that increases our need to help them.  But, what is it about empathy that promotes the need to help?"
Sub Conference: Science

Sam Vaknin: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Psychopaths & Narcissists?

Sam writes and speaks about psychopathy & narcissism. He's the author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited.  He describes himself as a person devoid of empathy. "I do not possess empathy: I am a thrice-diagnosed psychopathic narcissist." Narcissists and psychopaths lack empathy. This deficiency renders them emotionally and cognitively crippled. They exploit, manipulate, and abuse other people because they are unable to relate to them otherwise.


He says there are two type of empathy, one is 'cold empathy', it's metaphorically like a library of books with no emotion. Psychopaths & Narcissists have this quality of empathy but do not see (or care) how their actions affect others.

 Lisbeth Holter Brudal: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Norway

Lisbeth Holter Brudal is a psychologist living in Oslo, Norway. She is the author of many books, including, Om bevissthet (About Consciousness) which is about psychology, mindfulness, science fiction, near-death-experiences and cosmic consciousness and the terror attack 22.juli 2011 in Oslo.

Lisbeth has developed courses in Empathic Communication.

One course (20 hours) for professionals who want to use Empathic Communication in their work and one course (40 hours) for trainers in the method.The trainers give the 20-hours courses, one-day seminars introducing the method, participate in different congresses about education and also give lectures about Empathic Communication at different university colleges. The trainers also learn during the 40-hours course how to educate other trainers. Empathic Communication, as a method, has been presented on Norwegian TV. 
Sub Conference: Education 

How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Music Arts

Tal-Chen Rabinowitch

Tal-Chen is working in Cambridge towards a PhD. Her research explores the social nature of musical group interaction in children and the ways in which it can be directed towards the long-term enhancement of emotional empathy. This work explores experimentally the effects of musical group interaction on children’s every day capacity for empathy, and in particular, the emotional impact of synchronization during musical interaction. Her research suggests that music promotes empathy.

This work explores experimentally the
effects  of musical group interaction on
children’s every day capacity
for empathy

Violone - Peter Lely (Wikipedia)

Her research suggests that  music
promotes empathy.

Tal-Chen says her metaphor for empathy is like closing the distance between people and merging while the opposite is distance and a wall.
Sub Conferences:
Science and Arts


Panel 007-A: How to Create a Culture of Empathy with Men?

Owen Marcus

David Mabelle

Michael Welp

Edwin Rutsch


Owen Marcus moderates this panel discussion about how men can deepen their empathy and live more fulfilling lives. Owen, David and Michael facilitate men's groups. Owen says, "What empathy gives you. You may find yourself enjoying life more. The more you connect to others, the deeper the interaction. It is as if you step beyond a screen to actually contact the person. You go from being an observer or critic, to a participant."
Empathy Conference

Catherine Cadden: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with NVC

Catherine Cadden has been an educator since 1987 finding alternatives to teaching, learning, and conflict resolution that work with the principles of nonviolence. 

Author of, Peaceable Revolution Through Education.  The book offers practical everyday guidance for creating peace and connection in today's learning environments.

How can we build a culture of empathy?
1. Truly releasing enemy imaging that blocks compassion.
2. Remaining curious about each other and letting go our expectations based on our assumptions and our fixed ideas about how people ought to behave.
3. Being clear about our needs in a way that does not hold them as more or less important than another's. Sub Conference: NVC

Jo Berry: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

I have founded a Charity Building Bridges for Peace, I am a inspirational speaker and facilitator in conflict resolution and peace building. 

I am passionate about finding alternatives to blame and how to resolve conflict without hurting another human being. I am healing from losing my Father to terrorism and am transforming my pain into my passion for peace. I work with Pat Magee who planted the bomb which killed my Dad and am involved in reconciliation and peace in Northern Ireland and all over the world.

I commit to seeing the humanity in everyone and understand we all have a different story. Peace comes when we see the needs of the 'other' when we stop demonizing any other group but instead take responsibility for our need to blame another. Through dialogue with emotional safety we can begin to break down walls and open hearts. I believe in the power of listening with empathy.

Mary Beth Oliver: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Journalism

Mary Beth Oliver is a Penn State Distinguished Professor and  co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, as well as, a member of the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies.

She is co-author of Media Effects Advances in Theory and Research.

We talked about the role of the media in fostering a culture of empathy. Needless to say, the media is doing a lot to inhibit empathy at the moment.


Mary conducted a study titled, 'The Effect of Narrative News Format on Empathy for Stigmatized Groups'.  "The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the extent to which news story format (narrative vs. non-narrative) can initiate empathic processes that produce more favorable evaluations of stigmatized groups." The study showed that narrative stories stimulate more empathy and compassion.
Sub Conference: Journalism and Media

Kenneth Barish: How to Build a Culture of Empathy in the Family

Kenneth Barish is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University. He is also on the faculty of the Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy and the William Alanson White Institute Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Training Program. He is author of Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child's Emotions and Solving Family Problems.

How to Build a Culture of Empathy in the Family?

1) It begins with our relationships with our children. If we put aside as little as 10 - 15 minutes a day to share in our children's interests and listen to their concerns, we strengthen their willingness to listen to others.
2) All real dialogue begins with our willingness to hear - and make a genuine effort to appreciate - another person's concerns: their interests, anxieties, and grievances.
3) Then, when our children know that their feelings are valued and important, we can teach them that so are the feelings of others.
4) We can include doing for others as a regular part of our family lives.
Sub Conference: Home & Family

Michael Kimball: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Anthropology

Michael Kimball is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the
University of Northern Colorado. In his video  'Recovering Empathy', he explored the relationship of empathy and the antithesis of antipathy and apathy. Antipathy is wanting to shut down a threat and fear which are often caused by unfamiliarity, differences, ignorance, inexperience and irrelevance. Apathy is shutting down when we feel powerless.

Metaphorically, empathy is like an arch bridge. Empathy empowers construction of a stone arch bridge of interpersonal communication; apathy is the gap between the sides; antipathy is tensional stress, i.e., underlying forces trying to pull the connection apart. The Stone arch bridge, like human survival strategies, has an ancient heritage. The metaphorical bridge is made of individual stones – moments of shared experience; outreach efforts; courage to allow oneself to be vulnerable, etc. Sub Conference: Science

Lesley Grant: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Mindfulness with Couples, Parents & Children

Lesley Grant, founder and director of Marin Mindfulness a unique community cooperative program that teaches mindfulness and loving-kindness practice to parents, teachers and children, preschool-preteens, speaks about how she is adapting mindfulness and applied mindfulness practices for children, parents and co-parenting couples, toward developing a culture of empathy.


She says: “Parents who practice mindfulness can develop the capacities to raise children who seek creative non-violent solutions to problems.” Mindful family relationships and both parents and children’s peer relationships are a foundation of a culture of empathy.
 Sub Conference: Education   (Mindfulness)

Rick Ackerly: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Education 

Rick is a nationally recognized educator and speaker with 45 years of experience working in and for schools. With a master’s in education from Harvard University, Rick has devoted his career to building thriving learning communities. Author, "
The Genius in Children: Bringing out the best in your child"

How to build culture of empathy?
'Children have empathy; the best way to educate it is to utilize it. All good educators know empathy is one of their greatest abilities, and the origin of some of their greatest passions. Their brains are designed to know how others feel. They are wired with mirror neurons; when someone else is hurt, they feel it. By eighteen months they know that another person might want something different from what they want, and are inclined to give them what they want, rather than what they would choose for themselves.' Sub Conference: Education 

Matthew Winslow: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Matthew Winslow is Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at Eastern Kentucky University. He teaches a class on empathy in the filed of psychology.

Matthew says empathy is like being an actor and the best Halloween costume ever.  He sees empathy as a skill that can be developed with practice. People need both the motivation to empathize and the ability to do so. Narcissism is the opposite of empathy because it’s the narrow focus on the self. The opposite of empathy is wearing mirrored sunglasses on backwards so you only see yourself.
Sub Conference: Science

2013 Parenting Matters TeleConference - Stephanie Bachmann Mattei talks with Edwin Rutsch

The Parenting Matters TeleConference
Thursday, January 24 - Monday, January 28, 2013
Presented by the NVC Academy and Stephanie Bachmann Mattei.  Join us for this virtual conference packed with world renown parenting speakers and receive the latest cutting-edge information on what brain science has to offer on parenting and healthy brain development in children, and practical tips for parenting from your heart even when feeling stress. Learn how to foster
and deepen empathy and compassion in the home.
Sub Conference: Home & Family

David Weinstock: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Aikido

David Weinstock is a certified International Nonviolent Communication Trainer, a Somatic Coach, Aikido Instructor (30 yrs.) and originator of Somatic Consensus. He leads community workshops in schools, prisons, businesses, intentional communities & organizations around the world.

David and his family live in an intentional community in Washington State that they helped found and where consensus has been practiced for over 20 years. To learn more you can go to his website.

 How to build a culture of empathy?

Jesse Wiens: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Zen NVC

Jesse Wiens is an internationally recognized Center for Nonviolent Communication Certified Trainer and the founder of ZENVC, an approach to the practice of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) that integrates meditation, mindfulness, and inner work. He has a passion for bringing the best of Eastern and Western wisdom to bear on the problems of today, supporting individuals, couples, and communities to come back into wholeness.
How to build a culture of empathy?
  • Create opportunities for people to share and bear witness to each other's celebrations (gratitudes) and mournings (grief/despair/sadness) in a group.
  • Create opportunities for people to share silence together, and bear witness to their own breath.
  • Familiarize yourself with the many ways that people are disempowered in our culture, and understand how the two suggestions above empower people; use these understandings as a springboard to raise questions and spark critical and creative discussions with others
  • Jesse says empathy is like a rubber band. It gets stretched out and that's fear, anxiety, disconnection, etc. It automatically comes back into  the natural shape.
    Sub Conference: NVC
Vinciane Rycroft: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Education 
Vinciane Rycroft is Director and Co-Founder at Mind with Heart, an educators' network for a secular education in empathy and compassion.The main focus is on creating the conditions for young people to come to a firm commitment to empathy and compassion based on their own reasoning, experience and initiative.

Mind with Heart hosts the Conference, Empathy and Compassion in Society in London. The Conference will address three topics:
1. Compassion and empathy: scientific definitions, misunderstandings and function.
2. Compassion, the benefits at the personal level.
3. Compassion in action and social cohesion

Sub Conference: Education 

Joshua Davis: Empathy Report: 5th Annual Meeting - Social & Affective Neuroscience Society

Josh Davis is Term Assistant Professor at Barnard College, NY. His research deals with adaptive emotional state control and mind-body connections.  While not an expert in empathy, in this interview, Josh gives us a report on some of the latest findings about the nature of empathy from the 5th Annual Meeting of the Social & Affective Neuroscience Society.
- Symposium Session A: Empathy
- Empathy for Positive and Negative Emotions:
- Poster Session D (Empathy, Culture, Social Interaction
- Session I Empathy & Choice
Sub Conference: Science
: Neuroscience

David Hazen & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Peace, Love, Nonviolence

David Hazen is a peace activist living in in Eugene, Oregon. He is author of, Love Always Wins: Hope for Healing the Epidemic of Violence.

He is an Imagineer, Eugene City of Peace. Advisor, International Cities of Peace. Peacemaker of the Year 2011, Nobel Peace Laureate Project

How to build a culture of empathy?

We live in a culture of violence. There is no quick and easy way out. And yet there is a path for walking away from it, one step at a time. As far as I know, there is no other way - there is no shortcut to learning how to love than surrendering to the process, letting go of old self-serving fears, defenses and rigid beliefs, letting go of narcissism.  Define the problem, give up the struggle and repair the damage.

Jon Ramer: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion

Jon Ramer is Co-founder of Compassionate Action Network and Compassionate Seattle. The mission is, 'Awakening compassion within ourselves, our children and the world.


He is musician and a tireless organizer and advocate for fostering empathy and compassion through a wide variety of means around the world. "Starting from within, working in a circle, in a sacred manner, we heal and develop ourselves, our relationships, and the world."  The 4th Way Guiding Principles

Kathleen Barry: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Kathleen Barry is Professor Emerita of Penn State University and a feminist activist and sociologist. She is author of  Unmaking War, Remaking Men: How Empathy Can Reshape Our Politics, Our Soldiers and Ourselves The book explores soldiers' experiences through a politics of empathy - probing the psychopathy and sociopathy of war.

See her author talk, interview and an overview of her workshop on Unmaking War and Building Empathy.
Sub Conference: Science

Marcy Axness: How to Build a Culture of Empathy in the Family

Marcy Axness has a private consulting-counseling practice specializing in mind-body fertility, pregnancy psychology, adoption, and early parenting.  She is author of Parenting for Peace: Raising the Next Generation of Peacemakers. Marcy also provides training for adoption, education, and mental health professionals about the latest findings in the science of human thriving.

How to build a culture of empathy in the family?
1. By giving our children the gift of a well-built brain -- i.e., the frontal and occipital lobes have the circuitry they need to even process empathy!! This begins before most people think parenting begins - in the womb, or even earlier. It is our birthright to experience empathy, and that right is taken from us if we don't have a well-wired brain.
2. For the child to witness and experience empathy, in an everyday, all-day way.
3. Model empathy with our own cells, through how we care for ourselves.

 Sub Conference: Home & Family

 Jerry Green: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Emotional Aikido

Jerry Green is a mediator, and creator of TUNING IN to the Body, online lessons in embodied compassionate communications, which is based on his seminars in Emotional Aikido, for transforming pressure, fear & anger into centered empathy and grounded actions in the home and at work. 

The Martial art of Aikido embodies many of the qualities of empathy, such as, seeing the common humanity of everyone and holding everyone with care. In this dialog, we talked about the embodiment of empathy through Aikido, which makes it easier to feel the somatic essence of empathy in our bodies.
Sub Conference: Aikido & Empathy

California College of the Arts Students Interview Edwin Rutsch on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Inspired by your interviews and your belief that networking and dialoguing is key to creating an empathic culture, I am reaching out to you with the hope that my team and I could interview you. I am in an MBA program at California College of the Arts n San Francisco, currently enrolled in a social entrepreneurship course.


We have chosen empathy as the focus of our semester project  – specifically with the purpose of building individual and community capacity for empathy in order to foster shared understanding and spark action on global issues. Catalina Garcia, Shana Fong, Devin Harvath

Luisa Semedo: How to Build a Culture Based on a Morality & Ethics of Empathy

Luísa Semedo is a PhD Philosophy student at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, France. Her PhD dissertation is about Ethics of Empathy.  The aim of her interdisciplinary work is to frame a new ethics in which empathy is its foundation (contagion, empathic distress and imitation), its instrument (simulation, imagination and empathic concern) and its purpose (trust, altruism, cooperation and respect).

She says that empathy is like dreams, because in dreams we can be a different version of ourselves. In real life, empathy allows us to put ourselves in the place of others, and experience others lives. Because of our common humanity others are a possibility of us.  The opposite of empathy is a desert island.  
Sub Conference: Science

Sam Chaltain: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Education

Sam Chaltain is a DC-based writer and education activist. He works with schools, school districts, and public and private sector companies to help them create healthy, high-functioning learning environments. He is Author coauthors five books including, American Schools: The Art of Creating a Democratic Learning Community

We talked about how to transform schools to create culture of empathy.  For Sam it's important that all students feel hear and seen and are able to express themselves.
Sub Conferences: Education

Ane Axford & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Highly Sensitive People & Empaths

Ane Axford specializes in working with genetically highly sensitive people (HSP).  She hosts websites, a Facebook page, podcasts, workshops and other resources on this.  


Ane says honesty is her most important and value. Honestly sharing your own feelings is a part of being of empathic. For her empathy is like a compass, creating a container for intentional and safe connection for two people to come together on purpose.

How to build a culture of empathy?

 Know where you are coming from with your energy, your focus, and your sensations. Understanding if you are more introverted or extroverted, more analytical or more feeling based, more sensitive or more hardy can allow you to know where you are starting from, where others are starting from, and so where you can come to meet.

Self-Empathy and Self-Compassion. Remember that HSPs must practice empathizing with themselves and showing compassion toward themselves in order to really bring that into experiences with others. Otherwise, they just feel overwhelmed by other's feelings.
Sub Conference: Empaths

Alice Aird: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Alice Aird lives in Melbourne, Australia and is Founding Director of the Empathy Foundation.  She hosts the site for growing empathy and says, " I have come to understand that empathy grows empathy, and that the greater the human capacity for empathy the greater our ability to cooperate in creating a peaceful and sustainable world. So that's we what are working on here at the Empathy Foundation - practicing empathy and growing more of it in the world. Universal empathy is possible.

My mission is to create empathic parenting for purpose. It's a long term project, and may not be achieved in my life time - I'm sure many others will be involved. Also I have much healing of my own wounds to do (empathically)."
My top three ways to grow a culture of empathy are;

1. Raise children with empathy, and grow their empathy centres of the brain.

2. Expand parents/teachers/caregivers awareness of empathy, it's value, and how to grow it - with great empathy.

3. Honor the unique purpose inside everyone of us, child and adult, and empathetically support each other in the difficult journey to manifesting it.
Sub Conference: Home & Family

Stephanie Mattei: How to Build a Culture of Empathy in the Family

Stephanie Bachmann Mattei is a Certified Trainer with The Center for Nonviolent Communication. Parenting is Stephanie’s niche. Parenting is a powerful and far-reaching tool for social transformation. Mahatma Gandhi’s said, "If we are to reach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with the children.” Parenting is one of the most crucial ways to bring about social change in terms of consciousness evolution. We are moving toward a more empathic child rearing.

How to Build a Culture of Empathy? Presently the three main unempathic "Parenting Tools" are; Corporal Punishment, Guilt and Shame inducing communication (verbal and non-verbal), behavior modification through rewards carrots and sticks.  Research show these approaches do not foster empathy and emotional intelligence. In order to change a habit, we need to know what to put in its place. We need an empathic parenting approach.
Sub Conference: NVC  and Sub Conference: Home & Family

 Rob Kall interviews Edwin Rutsch on How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Politics
Rob Kall is host of the Bottom-Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360AM) and publisher He is a blogger with over 100 articles on Huffingtonpost. is a tough progressive website, supporting values that are really dead center American, like fairness, democracy, justice, protection of our national resources and commons, and preferring to support humans and America before corporations and religions.
Edwin Rutsch is founding director of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy.
 How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Men's Groups: Owen Marcus, Ken Solin, Edwin Rutsch 
A discussion with Owen Marcus and Ken Solin, both leaders in the men's movement, on how to use micro-communities to teach men empathy and other missing emotional skills. Both Owen and Ken are long term workshop leaders and have a new initiative for building a men's movement to foster Masculine Emotional Intelligence. They hold Man Camp Weekends and have a tool kit where men can start their own circles.


Some of the questions addressed in this dialog were;

  • How would men sitting together shift the ‘culture of empathy’?

  • What is the best way to not just educate men about empathy, but teach the skill?

  • Why are men behind on the empathy curve?

  • In your Man Camp Weekend you speak about a man “being his own hero” – what does that mean?

  • How can men learn empathy in one weekend?

"One of the values that I think men in particular have to pass on is the value of empathy. Not sympathy, empathy. And what that means is standing in somebody else's shoes, being able to look through their eyes. You know, sometimes we get so caught up in "us" that it's hard to see that there are other people and that your behavior has an impact on them.

 And sometimes brothers in particular don't like to feel empathy, don't like to think in terms of "How does this affect other people?" because we think that's being soft. There's a culture in our society that says we can't show weakness and we can't, therefore, show kindness. That we can't be considerate because sometimes that makes us look weak."  Barack Obama
Sub Conference: Home & Family

Govert van Ginkel: Survivors of Sexual Assault and Building a Culture of Empathy

Govert van Ginkel is speaker, trainer, coach, facilitator and mediator who is experienced in many different processes. He has a background as a lawyer.


Govert says, "We thrive on connection and some even say we are hard wired for connection, yet it can seem so hard to do when you need it most. Empathy is the missing link. Empathy will help you support yourself and connect with others in situations in which you normally would feel lost."

We held two discussions, first we reviewed, step by step, his article, Practical Empathy: As it applied to Survivors of Sexual Assault. He says, "Empathy is a scare commodity in general and specifically when you are the victim of a crime. Practical application of empathy can make an enormous difference in the outcome for both the victim/survivor of a crime, the effectiveness of police and justice department, as well as, for all others involved." In the second hour, we had a free style discussion about the nature of empathy and how to foster it.

Sub Conference: NVC

Stephen Carrick-Davies: How to Build a Culture of Empathy Online?

 "I am an independent freelance professional working in the fast-changing field of new communications technology, predominantly where it impacts on the lives of children, parenting, schools and the wider society.

 "Just as a programme like "Roots of Empathy" introduced a live baby to help children re-connect and gain an empathetic understanding and connect with their feelings so we now need a new understanding, a new "e-pathy" to remind us of our humanity and curb the actions of many internet users who risk becoming "comfortably numb."

Bob Koehler: How to Build a Culture of Empathy?

Bob Koehler is a journalist: reporter, editor, writer and columnist.  He is the author of Courage Grows Strong at the Wound

How to build a culture of empathy? 
1. Use restorative justice and peace circles. 
2. Personal awareness is always crucial:
3. Be the media.
Sub Conference: Journalism and Media

How to Build a Culture of Empathy? Melanie Swan

 Melanie Swan is founder of DIYgenomics, a non-profit research organization founded in March 2010 to realize personalized medicine through crowdsourced health studies and apps. One of the project is 'Social intelligence genomics & empathy-building'.  It examine whether individuals with certain genetic profiles may have a greater natural capacity for social intelligence genes which have been associated with optimism and empathy, extraversion, and altruism.  It has also developed a Personal Virtual Coach mobile app-based intervention for empathy-building. Sub Conferences: Science

Cinnie Noble: How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Cinnie Noble is a lawyer-mediator, conflict management consultant and a certified coach  She is the author of,  Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY Model. It is a comprehensive and dynamic book about coaching people on a one-on-one basis, to improve their skills for managing and engaging in their interpersonal disputes. We talked about how to use empathy in resolving conflict and in personal coaching. Sub Conference: Justice

Nick Walker: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Aikido - Autism

Nick Walker is a speaker, educator, author, and consultant on a wide range of topics. He is the founder and senior instructor of Aikido Shusekai, an aikido dojo in Berkeley, California. He  holds a 6th degree black belt in aikido and has been teaching the art to adults, teens, and children for over thirty years.

He is coleading an empathy training workshop called Embodying Empathy. He says,  empathy is possibly the most important social skill you possess, yet it can be very fragile.

It is common to get triggered and lose the capacity to empathize in the presence of conflict, anger, fear, or anxiety. You may attack or withdraw, or become unable to think or feel your way to a more useful response.


The solution: learn to fully embody your empathy so that it becomes a safe and reliable stance that you can return to in times of trouble. In this one-day experiential workshop, empathy expert Karla McLaren and somatic psychologist and aikido teacher Nick Walker will teach you how to access and strengthen your natural capacity for empathy.
Sub Conference: Aikido & Empathy

Karla McLaren: How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Karla McLaren says, " I’m an author, social science researcher, a cappella arranger, and an empath, which means I know that I read emotions. I worked as an empathic healer for twenty-five years, and I once thought that my empathic skills were mystical....

She is author of, The Language of Emotions: What your feelings are trying to tell you

Karla also leads workshops, she says,  "Empathy is possibly the most important social skill you possess, yet it can be very fragile. It is common to get triggered and lose the capacity to empathize in the presence of conflict, anger, fear, or anxiety. You may attack or withdraw, or become unable to think or feel your way to a more useful response. The solution: learn to fully embody your empathy so that it becomes a safe and reliable stance that you can return to in times of trouble."

Karla McLaren interview on Empaths
"I'm an empath, which means that I am able to read and understand emotions, You're an empath too - we all are..."
How do we create a culture of empathy?
- learning about what emotions are.
- watch out for demonization and idealization.
Sub Conference: Empaths

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