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Obama on Empathy


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CCARE - Compassion & Business Conference
April 27, 2013

  I went to the Compassion & Business Conference yesterday at Stanford University and had a lot of fun meeting up with people I had only known online. Fun to meet them in the flesh and be able to give them a big hug. I was also giving out my 'FREE EMPATHY' cards.

The conference was hosted by the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE).  It was an important topic - how to bring more compassion into the business world. Lot's of presenters from science, education and business, etc. offering talks, panels and some hands on workshops. I would have liked more hands-on time since the academic part is so readily available online now-a-days... what's so precious is the time to get together with people in deeper personal dialogs. I would love to do some empathy circles in a setting like this.

The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy was a sponsor of the event. Was great to see our logo up on the screen.. I had to take a picture of that. ;-)
Empathy and Compassion in Society Conference

The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy is pleased to be a Supporting Sponsor of the Empathy and Compassion in Society conference, to be held in London, 24 to 27, October 2013.
Vinciane Rycroft director of the conference.

Compassion and Technology Conference  December 6, 2013 - Stanford University, CA

The Compassion and Technology Conference at Stanford is an innovative conference presented by the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). 

This inaugural one-day conference will take place at Stanford University on December 6, 2013 and will include talks by academic experts and tech industry leaders, as well as presentations by innovators, engineers and designers who are competing as finalists in the Compassion and Technology Contest. 


The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy is a Media Sponsor of this event.

How to Build a Culture of Empathy In Medicine
Raúl de Velasco


Raúl de Velasco is director of Clinical Ethics at the University of Miami Bioethics Program and Chair of the Baptist Health Bioethics Committee.  He  says. "I am a physician who practiced Nephrology for over 30 years and had  a very large practice. Most of my patients were on dialysis and needed kidney transplants, they had a lot of problems, you learn how to detach from  their suffering but as I did that almost as a survival mechanism the practice  of medicine became less enjoyable more about numbers than of people."

The Gross Clinic - Thomas Eakins (Wikipedia)

Raúl saw the importance of empathy for doctors
and has been working to promote empathy
 in the medical field.


Raúl saw the importance of empathy for doctors and has been working to  promote empathy in the medical field.  We held two interviews about his  studies and work on empathy. In the second interview, Raúl walked thought his Clinical Empathy Slide Show Presentation. The presentation  discusses;

1. Psychology of Empathy
2. Objectification and the ‘wiring’
3. Caring in Medicine
4. The Practice of Empathy
5. Problems with Empathy

Sub Conference: Health Care

Got Empathy? The Foundations of Empathy
Thea Blair

Thea Blair is a Waldorf teacher, and a Pediatric Massage Therapist. She operated a successful, Waldorf-inspired pre-school out of her home for fourteen years. Observing the amazing results of touch, either playful or comforting, in resolving children's emotional stress led her to seek a massage training. She now works as a parent and teacher coach, and a touch educator.


Thea brings Peer Massage to schools as a consultant. She is available for talks and workshops about touch, parenting, and childhood development.  In this dialogue we discussed her empathy research and insights.


Under the Horse-Chestnut Tree - Mary Cassatt (Wikipedia)


The ability to empathize develops with contributions from

various biologically and environmentally based factors.

These factors include genetics, child temperament,

parenting factors such as warmth, parent-child synchrony...

Thea wrote a research paper on empathy: "The Role of Motor Development in the Development of Empathy" and holds "The Foundations of Empathy" presentations on empathy as well. She writes: "The ability to empathize develops with contributions from various biologically and environmentally based factors. These factors include genetics, child temperament, parenting factors such as warmth, parent-child synchrony, and other qualities of the parent child relationship, and physical imitation such as facial mimicry and motor imitation, using areas of the brain such as the mirror neuron system and the limbic system. In this paper I will explore how motor development supports the development of empathic awareness."

Sub Conference: Education

Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
 Lou Agosta

Lou Agosta is on the faculty of the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. He practices psychotherapy in the Chicago. His area of concentration includes the dynamic containing and transforming of domestic violence and intimate partner abuse.


Lou is author of Empathy in the Context of Philosophy which is an exploration of the deep structure of empathy as a fundamentally human capability for creating possibilities of community and human relations. He also writes extensively about the nature of empathy on his website

The Scream - Edvard Munch (Wikipedia)

 if one is overwhelmed by the other’s trauma and
re-traumatized, one is not using one’s
empathy properly. Simply stated,
you are doing it wrong. "

"The short definition of empathy is that it is the capacity to know what an other individual is experiencing because (speaking in the first person for emphasis) I experience it too, not as a merger but as a trace affect or experience that samples the other’s experience. Thus, if one is overwhelmed by the other’s trauma and re-traumatized, one is not using one’s empathy properly. Simply stated, you are doing it wrong. "
Sub Conference: Science

Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy and Resilience
Robert Brooks

Robert Brooks is one of today's leading speakers on the themes of resilience, motivation, and family relationships. During the past 30 years, Dr. Brooks has presented nationally and internationally to thousands of parents, educators, mental health professionals, and business people with a message based on encouragement, hope, and resilience. He is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School.


He is author or co-author of 15 books including: Handbook of Resilience and has written numerous articles about empathy. He writes, "In my workshops and writings I have consistently emphasized the importance of empathy as an essential skill for enriching our lives...  If empathy is not translated into behavior it will indeed be a "sideshow." However, when empathy serves as a guiding light for our behaviors, showing us the path that leads to compassion and caring, it becomes a potent force that will improve the lives not only of our children but ourselves as well. The more we bring together theory, skills, and actions, the more we can engage in activities that permit us to lead purposeful, fulfilling, caring lives.."

The Schoolmaster - Adriaen van Ostade (Wikipedia)

a common characteristic of individuals who are successful
as business leaders, teachers, parents,
spouses, or healthcare professionals
is their ability to be empathic.

 "a common characteristic of individuals who are successful as business leaders, teachers, parents, spouses, or healthcare professionals is their ability to be empathic. Empathic people are skilled in placing themselves inside the shoes of another person and seeing the world through that person’s eyes.


It is not surprising that Daniel Goleman listed empathy as one of the main components of emotional intelligence. In my activities as a therapist and consultant as well as in my personal life, I have come to believe that empathy is implicated in all of our relationships, impacting on the satisfaction and effectiveness with which we interact with others."
Sub Conference: Home & Family

How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Health Care
 Helen Riess

Helen Riess, M.D. is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry,
Harvard Medical School and Director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The mission of the Program is to enhance empathy and interpersonal relationships in healthcare. She is also Chief Technology Officer of Empathetics which offers scientifically based empathy training proven to optimize interpersonal engagement.

Helen is a coauthor of the study, Empathy Training for Resident Physicians. The study concluded;  "A brief intervention grounded in the neurobiology of empathy significantly improved the physician empathy as rated by patients, suggesting that the quality of care in medicine could be improved by integrating the neuroscience of empathy into the medical education."

Plato's Academy mosaic from Pompeii (Wikipedia)

Empathy is like "getting underneath the skin of another person,
to merge temporarily with their experience, then getting out,
 to reflect on the experience.  Empathy can be taught,
 although a certain endowment may be inborn

Empathy is like "getting underneath the skin of another person, to merge temporarily with their experience, then getting out, to reflect on the experience.  Empathy can be taught, although a certain endowment may be inborn, research shows that it is a mutable trait. Our study demonstrated that empathy could be increased significantly in the training group and it decreased significantly in the control group.
Sub Conference: Health Care

How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Scott Churchill


Scott D. Churchill is Professor of Psychology at the University of Dallas and Editor of The Humanistic Psychologist. His work focuses on development of phenomenological and hermeneutic methodologies. Currently he is studying interspecies communication with Bonoboos. Scott wrote the article, Encountering the Animal Other: Reflections on Moments of Empathic Seeing.  He writes, "Unfortunately, there have not been many psychologists willing to entertain the notion of empathy or intuition as a reliable or even valid mode of access to psychological life of others."


Hall, Freud, Jung, Clark (Wikipedia)


Unfortunately, there have not been many psychologists
willing to entertain the notion of empathy or intuition
 as a reliable or even valid mode of access
 to psychological life of others


In this article Scott explores the first person (self-centered), third person (detached omnipotent) and empathic second person perspective. "As a whole, the field of psychology has generally provided for the first person perspective to be legitimate means of access only to one's own private experience, while insisting that we must observe all others' experience from a neutral "third person" perspective."
Sub Conference: Science

How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Pakistan
Maryam Sakeenah

Maryam Sakeenah is a social worker, teacher, and freelance writer living in Lahore, Pakistan. She  teaches Literature, Islamic Studies and Sociology.


She is leading a project for virtual education for underprivileged school children

Maryam also authored a book documenting Islamic and Oriental responses to the Clash of Civilizations, titled Us Versus Them and Beyond: An Oriental-Islamic Rejoinder to the Clash of Civilizations Theory.


I talked with Maryam from her home in Lahore, Pakistan about her article, The Murder of Human Empathy.  This was her response to the recent attacks on Christian homes in Lahore. She writes,   "Empathy is curbed and limited through narrow, parochial banners of ethnicity, nationalism, race and creed so that the empathic drive does not extend to the out-group. The out-group is then ‘otherised’. However, a more severe form of this is dehumanization of the other, often institutionalized by the social superstructure: state, media, education, religion."


Empathy is curbed and limited through narrow, parochial banners
of ethnicity, nationalism, race and creed so that the
empathic drive does not extend to the out-group.


She calls for leaders (especially religious leaders) in Pakistan to stand up and advocate for fostering empathy for all people.  "Empathy humanizes and civilizes. Its suppression intensifies secondary drives like narcissism, materialism, violence and aggression. The task of religion, education and the media must be to bring out the empathic sociability stretching out to all of humanity..."
Sub Conferences: Education 

How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Pakistan
Aurangzeb Haneef

Aurangzeb Haneef is a religious scholar and teacher in the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan.  He completed a Masters of Theological Studies at Harvard University. Earlier, at two universities in Austria and Spain he completed an International Master in Peace, Conflict and Development Studies with a focus on Religion/Islam and Peace building.


Aurangzeb sees empathy as being central to the peace building
process and he works to create dialog between the
 different social factions in his classes.


In this dialog and interview, we talked about the role of empathy as being foundational to peace building. In Pakistan there is great polarization between the conservative and liberal social factions and they are not talking to each other with empathy. Aurangzeb sees empathy as being central to the peace building process and he works to create dialog between the different social factions in his classes.
Sub Conference: Science

Fear, Creativity and Empathy
 Anne Paris, Marian Brickner, Edwin Rutsch

Anne Paris, PhD, author of Standing at Water's Edge: Moving Past Fear, Blocks, and Pitfalls to Discover the Power of Creative Immersion, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has practiced psychotherapy for over 25 years, and has specialized in working with artists, trauma victims, couples, and parents.

Marian Brickner is an Animal Photographer. "Marian has a rare gift, which takes remarkable skills of empathy, communication and visual art along with a high level of technique."

In this discussion we talked about the relationship of Fear, Creativity and Empathy. Anne writes, "My ultimate goal is to help you increase your self-empathy and stir you curiosity about how artistic blocks are understandable and reasonable responses to your past experiences, your present fears and your assumptions about your future... 


Leonid Pasternak (Wikipedia)


 I believe one of your major tasks in moving through the
 creative processis finding a way to be more empathic
with your own experience.


 Through empathic encounters, immersive connections can ultimately diminish feelings of aloneness while strengthening the persons core... I believe one of your major tasks in moving through the creative process is finding a way to be more empathic with your own experience. "

Sub Conference: Arts


Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Roman Krznaric


Author: The Wonderbox: Curious Histories of How to Live

I believe that empathy – the imaginative act of stepping into another person’s shoes and viewing the world from their perspective – is a radical tool for social change and should be a guiding light for the art of living. As I describe in this video definition of empathy, it matters not just because it makes you good, but because it is good for you

Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion
Emma Seppala

Emma Seppala originates from Paris, France and is Associate Director at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. She is an Honorary Fellow at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds in Madison, Wisconsin.


Her research areas include: Complementary & Alternative Interventions (yoga, meditation); The Science of Happiness, Health, Well-Being; Stress; Trauma; Emotion and Emotion Regulation; Compassion, Social Connectedness; Cross-Cultural Psychology. 

Sub Conference: Science


 Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Maia Szalavitz


Maia Szalavitz is a writer and co-author of Coauthor: Born for Love: Wh Empathy Is Essential and Endangered

Empathy - fully expressed in a community of nurturing interdependent people - promotes health, creativity, intelligence, and productivity. In contrast, apathy and lack of empathy contribute to individual and societal dysfunction, inhumane ideologies, and often brutal actions.
Sub Conference: Science


On Empathy
Rick Hanson

I have a special interest, a particular interest in practical methods, useful things, found at the intersection of psychology, brain science and contemplative practice... I think looking out at the world today, we have a crises of empathy in a way.
Sub Conference: Science

 Roots of Empathy and the Importance of Empathy with Children
Mary Gordon

Your quest for an empathic culture, or a Culture of Empathy as you call it, I think is a great quest. I don't think it's ever to late to develop empathy. It starts so naturally... I think we should do everything that we can to cultivate empathy and we can do it at every level. So why would we not.
Sub Conference: Education

 Empathy, Spriituality and Religion

Huston Smith

An Interview with Huston Smith, religious studies scholar and author of many books on world religions including The World's Religions.

"I'm a seeker after truth. For me empathy is at the heart of love. We humans are empathetic creatures.'

Sub Conference: Interfaith

 Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Education
Bob Sornson

Bob Sornson was a classroom teacher and school administrator for over 30 years, and is the founder of the Early Learning Foundation.  He works with schools and education organizations across the country, focusing primarily on developing comprehensive programs which support early learning success, building classroom and school culture to support the development of social and behavior skills, and offering parent training.


Bob  is the author of a number of books including: Stand in My Shoes: Kids Learning About Empathy.  "When Emily asks her big sister what the word empathy means, Emily has no idea that knowing the answer will change how she looks at people...  Empathy is the ability to notice what other people feel. Empathy leads to the social skills and personal relationships which make our lives rich and beautiful, and it is something we can help our children learn. This book teaches young children the value of noticing how other people feel. Were hoping that many parents read it along with their children." 
Sub Conferences:

 How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Peace

James O'Dea

James O’Dea is the lead faculty for the Shift Network’s Peace Ambassador Training with hundreds of international participants. These trainings are ongoing.

He is on the extended faculty of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and its former President.

James is author of, Cultivating Peace: Becoming a 21st Century Peace Ambassador. 

"When we can really put ourselves in the shoes of the other, when we can reach new depths of empathy, then we can be effective ambassadors of peace....

 The Peaceable Kingdom - Edward Hicks (Wikipedia)

When we can really put ourselves in the shoes of the other,
 when we can reach new depths of empathy,
 then we can be effective ambassadors of peace....
Without empathy there is no way forward for civilization.


Without empathy there is no way forward for civilization. Individuals who lack empathy are trapped in selfish motivations and ego fixations: they have not learned how to see themselves in the predicament of others. Politicians who lack empathy relate to others through a primitive in-group inclusion or out-group exclusion. This degree of psychological development cannot negotiate any form of middle ground. Conviction is reduced to simplistic binary codes such as "You are either with us or against us.""
Sub Conference: Peace & Empathy

How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Social Work
Louise Grant


Louise Grant is Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Bedfordshire. Louise has been studying the role of empathy in fostering resilience in social workers in the UK.

She says, "My teaching interests are in children and families social work and in particular in developing reflective practice for effective social work and developing supervision knowledge and skills in social workers. My research focus is on reflective practice and developing emotional resilience for social work practice"


Louise is co-author of the study, 'Exploring Stress Resilience in Trainee Social Workers: The Role of Emotional and Social Competencies'. In order to inform the development of interventions to enhance the work-related well-being of early career social workers, this study examined several emotional and social competencies (i.e. emotional intelligence, reflective ability, empathy and social competence) as predictors of resilience in 240 trainees.

Sub Conferences: Health Care and Science

How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Acting and Imagination

Diana Castle

Diana Castle is a first generation American born of a holocaust survivor. She attended a fine arts high school before graduating with a BFA in theatre with a music minor. She began her career in both musicals and dramatic roles in NYC, in national tours and regional theatre, as well as on stages internationally.

 "Diana Castle’s THE IMAGINED LIFE™ – Acting As The Art of The Empathetic Imagination- is a creative philosophy and practical application of your natural empathetic imagination to the art of acting...


Diana works with actors, singers, writers and directors of diverse backgrounds from all over the world in an effort to illuminate an experience of alternative perspectives, facilitate catharsis and create community through her creative philosophy and the empathetic imagined life experience."


We had a fun, dynamic and almost 2 hour discussion about the nature of empathy and how to embody it through acting. We explored how to not just talk about empathy, but embody it.
Sub Conference: Arts


Panel 21: Philosophy and Empathy

  Anthony I. Jack
Joshua Knobe
Philip Robbins
Edwin Rutsch
This panel brings together three leading researchers in the emerging field of experimental philosophy: a field which uses the experimental methods of the cognitive and social sciences to shed light on philosophical problems. This is a free ranging discussion of recent research and work in progress.

We discuss how our conception of the minds of others relates to empathy of various types, with a particular focus on empathy in the sense of compassion. The discussion touches on dehumanization, objectification, and how empathy relates to our tendency to see minds as embodied, as able to feel different kinds of emotion, and as possessing autonomy or free will.
Sub Conference: Science

How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Criminal Justice System

 Chad Posick

Chad Posick has a B.S. degree in criminal justice and an M.S. degree in public policy from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He just finished his Ph.D in criminal justice from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. He has worked with Project Safe Neighborhoods in the Western District of New York as well as the Department of Criminal Justice Service’s Project Impact. His research areas include restorative justice, cognitive behavioral interventions and action research.


We talked about Chad's research and study: More Than a Feeling: Integrating Empathy Into the Study of Lawmaking, Lawbreaking, and Reactions to Lawbreaking. "Empathy is related, directly or indirectly, to important elements in criminology such as the enactment of harsh penalties for repeat offenders, antisocial behavior, feelings of legitimacy toward the law, and attitudes toward the death penalty. Although empathy is beginning to find its way into criminological discourse, it is still not well understood nor often incorporated into quantitative research. "

Sub Conferences: Science and Justice

How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Reflective Listening

Maria Seehausen


Maria Seehausen is a psychologist and neuroscientist at the Cluster of Excellence: Languages of Emotion of the Free University Berlin, where she works on her dissertation on the effects of empathic paraphrasing on emotion in social conflict. She also works as a freelance mediator, trainer and coach, and is interested in the scientific exploration of intervention techniques used in conflict resolution. Maria is lead on the study, 'Effects of empathic paraphrasing - Extrinsic emotion regulation in social conflict'.


"In the present study, we investigated the effects of empathic paraphrasing as an extrinsic emotion regulation technique in social conflict. We hypothesized that negative emotions elicited by social conflict can be regulated extrinsically in a conversation by a listener following the narrator’s perspective and verbally expressing cognitive empathy.


20 participants were interviewed on an ongoing or recently self-experienced social conflict...  it is possible that empathic paraphrasing not only leads to a reduction of negative emotion in participants, but even induces positive emotions, such as happiness and relief about being listened to and validated.'

Sub Conference: Science and Justice

How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Archaeology

Penny Spikins

Penny Spikins is Senior Lecturer in the Archaeology of Human Origins in the Department of Archaeology, University of York. One of her main areas of research is on the archaeological evidence for the evolution of empathy and compassion.  "My early research centred on Mesolithic northern England where I retain an interest and enthusiasm, although I'm best known for my later research into the emergence of autism and the evolution of empathising and compassion in the Palaeolithic."  Penny is writing a book titled, 'How Compassion Made Us Human: An archaeology of prehistoric sentiment'

We discussed;

  • why it is important that compassion was key to our evolutionary history.
  • how archaeological evidence can tell us about how compassion evolved.
  • how a capacity to put others first in modern hunter-gatherers works to help them survive, not just as a group but as individual (which helps us understand the evolutionary pressures in the stone age).
  • the building blocks of capacities to put others first in apes, and how humans take those capacities to another level.
    Sub Conference: Science

Panel 20:  Empathy in Critical Care - Empathy and Healthcare Conference

Keonnis R. Taylor
Jodi Halpern
Barbara Beach
Marilyn Ababio
Edwin Rutsch
This panel with experts in the field of healthcare explored the role of empathy and compassion in providing medical care.

A few of the questions addressed were;

  •  How do those providing objective medical care, especially around the grim subject of one's own death, provide compassionate care without absorbing the emotions surrounding imminent death?
  • Please describe your work and why the principle of empathy is relevant to it?
  •  The theory of Counter-Transference in Psychology postulates that the practitioner's feelings are entangled with the patient's. Does this also happen in the medical field? etc.
    Sub Conference: Health Care

 Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
 Anthony Jack


Anthony Jack, PhD (Tony) is Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science, Philosophy, and Psychology in the Brain, Mind and Consciousness laboratory in the Department of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

He says, "I have a PhD in Experimental Psychology and extensive training in Philosophy and Neuroscience. I started out doing largely theoretical work on consciousness, but then got interested by the emerging field of brain imaging. I use fMRI to study attention, consciousness and social processing in the brain." 


Tony has been studying empathy and was involved in a study that looks at the analytic and empathic neural networks and how they relate to each other.  This article 'Empathy represses analytic thought, and vice versa' on Science Blog says,  "When the brain fires up the network of neurons that allows us to empathize, it suppresses the network used for analysis, a pivotal study led by a Case Western Reserve University researcher shows... At rest, our brains cycle between the social and analytical networks. But when presented with a task, healthy adults engage the appropriate neural pathway, the researchers found. The study shows for the first time that we have a built-in neural constraint on our ability to be both empathetic and analytic at the same time."
Sub Conference: Science: Neuroscience

Restorative Empathy Circle 1 with Democrats and Republicans


We hold Restorative Empathy Circles for individuals and groups that are in conflict. These groups can support a wide variety of conflicts.

Restorative Empathy Circles with Democrats and Republicans bring the different political parties and political movements together. This was our first Restorative Empathy Circle.

We asked; what is your most important value and how did it become important to you, how does your value relate to empathy and how can we foster empathic connection and understanding across political lines? 

There seemed to be a consensus about the importance of fostering empathy and compassion in society. We learned a lot about refining and developing the circle process for the next time. Unfortunately we had a bit of computer technical problems with Skype, audio, etc. 

Participants were;

Four Week Series:
Pattie Porter (The Texas Conflict Coach) Interviews Edwin Rutsch & Keiko Krahnke

4. Building a Culture of Empathy in the Business World and Beyond  - 
 Listen to Podcast  -  See Video

 In our final episode of the series Conflict and Empathy: Where Has Empathy and Compassion Gone? Keiko Krahnke from the University of  Colorado will join me and Edwin Rutsch, Center for Building a Culture of Empathy to discuss how do we foster empathy in a business, work and  beyond?   We will also look at the larger social systems and see how we can build a truly global culture of empathy.
Sub Conferences: Workplace

Four Week Series: Pattie Porter (The Texas Conflict Coach) Interviews Edwin Rutsch
3. Nurturing a Culture of Empathy in the Family  -  Listen to Podcast

  In our third episode of the series Conflict and Empathy: Where Has Empathy and Compassion Gone? Edwin Rutsch, Center for Building a Culture of Empathy and I will discuss how do we foster empathy in a family? Edwin will share some personal stories of how he has personally fostered empathy in his extended family and how he used Restorative Empathy Circles to heal family conflicts.
Sub Conference: Home & Family

Four Week Series: Pattie Porter Interviews Edwin Rutsch
2. Empathy – How Do We Build It?  -  Listen to Podcast  -  See Video

In our second episode of the series Conflict and Empathy: Where Has Empathy and Compassion Gone?, Edwin Rutsch and I will discuss how do we build empathy and compassion? Edwin will discuss a number of strategies he has implemented at the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. One strategy has been the use of Empathy Circles using empathic reflective listening with individuals and groups. He will share real life examples and will model the skill.


Four Week Series: Pattie Porter (The Texas Conflict Coach) Interviews Edwin Rutsch
1. What Does Empathy Got To Do With It?  -  Listen to Podcast

   For many of us engaged in conflict or embroiled in a dispute, it can be very difficult to muster up empathy and compassion for the other side.  The longer the conflict goes unresolved it seems the less empathy we have for them as a human being. In this first of our four episode series–Conflict and Empathy: Where Has Empathy and Compassion Gone?– we will introduce the “wheel of empathy” and the “feel of empathy” as

defined by Edwin Rutsch, Founder of a global empathy movement called The Center for Building a Culture of Empathy.  We will also discuss how compassion intertwines with empathy and set the foundation for how you build empathy.


  • Let’s start by sharing with listeners about how you got started in this work of building a culture of empathy and creating the Center.

  • Given that this is the first episode in our series Conflict and Empathy, let’s set the stage and define some of these concepts.

    • What exactly is empathy and the intention behind it?

    • How is empathy different from sympathy?

    • How does compassion intertwine with empathy?

  • We said that we would introduce two concepts…the “wheel of empathy” and the “feel of empathy.” What is important to know about these concepts?

  •  How do these wheels tie into the Empathy Circles you host through Google Hangouts?

Sub Conference: Justice

How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Healthcare
Dorrie Fontaine

Dorrie Fontaine, is Dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Virginia. At the school she started the Compassionate Care & Empathic Leadership Initiative (CCELI) "which exists to create dialogue around and preparedness for nurses who deal every day with people in life-changing situations–one-time or chronic illness, terminal disease, end-of-life care and even death itself–and all the highly-charged, complex issues surrounding them.

 The CCELI focuses on systems that optimize patients’ and their family’s quality of life, incorporate compassion and empathy into personal behavior, interprofessional interactions and encounters with patients and families.  We’re developing clinical, educational and research initiatives that further those aims. Our ultimate vision is to reduce human suffering and promote health and well-being by fostering compassionate people and systems."


"Can compassion be taught? UVa Nursing's all volunteer army of nurses, physicians, administrators, professors and students are learning concrete ways to insert compassion into every patient interaction -- and they're bolstering their own resilience in the process."

Sub Conferences: Health Care

How to Build a Culture of Empathy or Not
Mark Honigsbaum

Mark Honigsbaum is a Research Associate at the University of Zurich's Institute for Medical History and the author of 'Living With Enza'.

Mark wrote some articles about the role empathy, The Politics of Empathy and Barack Obama and the 'empathy deficit' which was published in the Guardian. We talked about his articles and views on the role of empathy in society

Mark said, "I'd be very happy to talk to you about empathy just so long as you understand that I am primarily an historian of medicine so, while I am all for promoting greater compassion and awareness of the predicament of those less fortunate than myself, I am wary of this notion of empathy as intrinsically pro-social and moral. This strikes me as a very recent notion, traceable to the birth of the psy sciences around the turn of the last century. Moreover, if alleviating the suffering of the poor and disadvantaged is to be more than a feel-good sound bite it has to be married with a real political agenda, which means making choices and taking sides (in my opinion of course)"

Sub Conference: Journalism and Media

Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Mark Rosenblum

  Mark Rosenblum is Professor of History and Director of Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding (CERRU) at Queens College, New York. 

CERRU inspires a generation of leaders who value cross-cultural engagement, listening, and empathy to inform positive social change.

"Building Empathy - One of the goals of the program is to increase students’ ability to understand and empathize with a wide range of experience and opinion. During the dialogue sessions, our student facilitators lead groups of students in discussion regarding contentious issues on campus and in the community. Participants are encouraged to listen actively, and without judgment, even if they do not agree."
Sub Conference: Science

How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT)

Wendy Wood

Wendy Wood is Senior Lecturer at the Mental Health and Therapeutic Practice Faculty of Education, Health and Sciences at University of Derby, UK.  Wendy is also Programme leader for the Compassion Focused Therapy programme.

"I worked within the NHS for 14 years as a Mental Health Nurse then as an assistant psychologist and then as a counsellor in primary care. I also worked for a year as a freelance trainer, therapist and clinical supervisor."

"Compassion Focused Therapy is a psychological approach that was originally developed to help people with high shame and self-criticism, and this course will introduce you to the basic ideas and interventions that are used. This course is for you if you are in a mental health profession, for example psychiatry, psychology, nursing or occupational therapy and you are trained to form and develop psychotherapeutic relationships.


Also, if you have basic counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy skills and you would like to develop your skills when working with clients who experience shame and self-criticism thoughts, then this course is for you."
Sub Conference: Science

Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Walter Osika

Walter Osika MD, PhD, works as a stress researcher and his research profile is "neuropsychiatric and cardiovascular measures in childhood and adulthood". He has primarily studied self assessed psychological health and cardiovascular regulation in children. He is also participating in epidemiological studies of early exposures and later outcomes in terms of psychiatric and cardiovascular disease, as well as in studies of burn out patients and of autonomic regulation in relation to hearing and cognition." 
Walter is researching how compassion relates to stress and is part of a group that is setting up a Swedish version of the The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education located in Stanford University.

 Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Lidewij Niezink

Lidewij hosts the Empathy and Charter for Compassion groups on Linkedin. Her Ph.D was in empathy and altruism. She is a strategic advisor, trainer and innovator, and helps organizations, groups and individuals to implement different aspects of empathic concern into their professional as well as private lives.  

How to build a culture of empathy?  Stop looking for the qualities of empathy and compassion outside of ourselves. We ALL possess these qualities already (as research is showing us). Develop and make use of the methods offered to cultivate empathy and compassion within ourselves according to what speaks to our individual minds and hearts...  Sub Conference: Science

How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Melanie Sears

Melanie Sears has been a trainer for the Center of Nonviolent Communications since 1991. She works with businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, individuals, couples and parents in transforming their usual way of operations, interpersonal interactions and dealing with conflict to one which is more compassionate, conscious and effective.

 Melanie presents Nonviolent Communication at conventions, at universities, and at churches.  She has been interviewed on the radio and on TV and is the author of several books including: Humanizing Health Care with Nonviolent Communication.
Sub Conference: NVC and Health Care

 Empathic Listening Demonstration
Melanie Sears Offers Edwin Rutsch Empathy for an Inner Conflict

Melanie Sears is a trainer in Compassionate Communication. She is author of several books including: Choose Your Words: Harnessing the Power of Compassionate Communication to Heal and Connect.  In this second interview with Edwin Rutsch, Melanie offers empathic listening to Edwin for a problematic past experience he had.
Sub Conference: NVC
and Health Care

Global Empathy Experiment - How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Gil Lavie

Gil Lavie is a Viral Advertising Expert and started the Global Empathy Experiment ( in one of his classes at the the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel.  He say, "I'm half art - half science. My interests are memes, humor, empathy and other fascinating notions. I had a 10-year career in hi-tech global marketing. Then I started one of the first viral ad agencies in 2002, where I created over 50 viral video commercials that organically reached out to hundreds of millions of viewers".
"Globalizing empathy is a step towards a better society, developing care and understanding that cross geographical, social and species boundaries. Can us caring lead others to care? And can this care be translated into actions? Actions like saving lives, spreading love, reaching out and giving a helping hand… We are simply students creating a platform for promoting Empathy by crowd-sourcing creativity & humor."
Sub Conferences: Education 

Panel 25: Libertarian: How might we transform domination cultures
& systems into empathic cultures?


Wesley Bertrand

Katie Testa

Tom Garrett

Edwin Rutsch


Through a reflective listening and empathy process, we explored some of the concerns about systems (organizations and institutions with laws, rules, policies, procedures, and norms) that can discourage empathy with self and with others. Domination systems are based on hierarchies of authority and demanded compliance, with punishments administered for noncompliance.
In turn, people tend to play roles and obey rules that deny personal choice and self-responsibility, which diminishes human freedom. Perhaps anger, fear, and distrust underlie such "power-over" practices, in which others are not really seen as capable and willing to meet human needs--so they must be forced to do so. We speculate that if empathy were focused on and practiced in relation to systems of domination, helpful transformations could take place.   Sub Conference: Politics

 How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Wesley Bertrand and Edwin Rutsch

Wesley says, "From an early age I’ve been fascinated about how to achieve a higher level of emotional awareness and personal evolution, and thus life satisfaction. Psychology has been a passion of mine well before receiving my Bachelor of Science degree in this field in ’97. I have a keen interest in answers to the important questions about self, reality, and others. Reading profound books such as Honoring the Self by self-esteem psychologist Nathaniel Branden helped provide many of the missing pieces."
Psychology and Politics.

How to Build a Culture of Empathy?
Jason Marsh

Jason Marsh is editor in chief of Greater Good magazine and website at U.C. Berkeley. Jason is a graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and a co-editor of, The Compassionate Instinct.

How to Build a Culture of Empathy?

First, promote personal contact across different groups. Do this in places like the workplace, schools and so on.  Second, encourage cross-group contact and perspective taking among kids and in schools. Create a curriculum of empathy within schools.

Third, inequality creates a negative spiral, it reduces empathy which creates more inequality, which reduces empathy further, which creates more inequality, etc.  We need to create a positive spiral of more empathy, more equality, more empathy, more equality.

Sub Conferences: Science and Journalism-Media.

How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Peace
Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung is the principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies. He founded the Peace Research Institute Oslo in 1959 and is referred to as the "father of peace studies".

Johan has also mediated in over 150 conflicts between states and nations. He has published over 100 books, including 'Peace by Peaceful Means: Peace and Conflict, Development and Civilization' and "The Fall of the U.S. Empire - And Then What?” 


He co-founded TRANSCEND International which has as its mission: "To bring about a more peaceful world by using action, education/training, dissemination and research to transform conflicts nonviolently, with empathy and creativity, for acceptable and sustainable outcomes."

He has a quote which I find succinctly sums up the relationship between empathy and peace. “By peace we mean the capacity to transform conflicts with empathy, without violence, and creatively — a never-ending process”
Sub Conference: Justice

Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Vivian Bohl

Vivian Bohl is an Estonian philosopher at Tartu University. She is a PhD student and her doctoral work is in the field of social cognition. We talked about the definitions of Empathy. She says,  "Defining empathy has always been a tricky issue and up to now, the conceptual issues surrounding 'empathy' are causing more and more confusion in scientific and philosophical literature. It's about time someone did something to solve these complex conceptual issues. I see that in your project, you are also interested in compassion. This is a very important empathy-related topic, in my opinion.

For me, the best definition of compassion is a Buddhist definition: it is the wish to alleviate the suffering of others and to eliminate the causes for suffering. Since I'm quite happy with that definition, we could discuss what this definition exactly means and also talk about how to become a more compassionate person."
Sub Conference: Science

How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Education
Bob Kane, James D'Amanda

Bob Kane is Director of the Center for Mindfulness & Empathy Education (CMEE) at The Harley School. Bob  teaches Hospice at The Harley School. As an end-of-life care educator and hospice nursing assistant, he continues to mentor high school students to provide comfort care to the dying and their loved ones

James D'Amanda is a Grant Writer and Event Manager at CMEE, as well as, a freelance writer.

The Center for Mindfulness and Empathy Education at the Harley School has the mission to empower Nursery-12 teachers, students, staff and parents with the requisite tools and support necessary to foster a sustained, compassionate presence through the development and nurturing of programs that demand authentic human engagement, stimulating our inborn capacity to compassionately connect to and understand others, embracing their situation as our own...  The center evolved in response to the increasing recognition that mindfulness and empathy play an indispensable role in humanizing our educational systems... We don't have a School uniform. But we do require you to walk in someone else's shoes.
Sub Conferences: Education 

How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Yoga
 Julian Walker

Julian has been teaching yoga since 1994 and practicing Mind-Body Healing since 1997. His approach to yoga combines a 20 year fascination with spirituality, science, psychology, music and poetry. He maintains a busy bodywork practice and teaches ongoing classes, chakra-based workshops and transformational retreats. He also writes and blogs on the intersection of spiritually, science and psychology. In this discussion, we explored how yoga can foster empathy.   
Sub Conference: Yoga

Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy
Ian Reifowitz

Ian Reifowitz teaches history at Empire State College of the State University of New York. He is the author of, Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity

In his article, Obama Calls for Empathy in Israel, Ian writes, "President Obama gave an absolutely terrific speech yesterday in Israel.

 The key section of the speech occurred when the president declared that Israelis need to truly understand how Palestinians see the conflict differently than they do. Obama urged them to "put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their eyes...  In this piece, I want to point out that this concept of putting oneself in the shoes of one's opponent or even just someone different from oneself, i.e., empathy, is at the heart of Obama's entire worldview...

He has drawn on the idea of empathy repeatedly as part of his push to encourage and invigorate ties across lines of race, culture, religion, region, etc. in this country. As I've written in my book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, empathy is thus central to his call to strengthen our sense of being one American people.
In The Audacity of Hope Obama spoke of empathy as being "at the heart of my moral code" and defined it as "a call to stand in somebody else's shoes and see through their eyes."
Sub Conference: Science


Panel 23 - The Role of Empathy in Crime, Policing and Justice

Chad Posick
Joe Brummer
Michael Rocque
Edwin Rutsch
The role of empathy in policing, both empathy for and by the police, is gaining attention from criminal justice researchers and practitioners. While research on the effectiveness and importance of empathy in policing is limited, the existing research indicates that empathy increases perceptions of legitimacy and trust in the police.
This panel discusses a range of issues related to the role of empathy in criminal behavior, punishment, and policing with a specific emphasis on training police on how to incorporate empathy into their work.
Sub Conference: Justice

About the upcoming 'Empathy & Compassion in Society' Conference
in London
- Nov 23-24, 2012

Vinciane Rycroft is Director and Co-Founder at Mind with Heart, an educators' network for a secular education in empathy and compassion.

In this dialog, Vinciane gives a short overview about the upcoming 'Empathy & Compassion in Society' Conference
that will be held in London - Nov 23-24, 2012.

The Empathy and Compassion in Society 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

How to Build a Culture of Empathy in Healthcare

Richard Levin

Richard Levin is an internationally recognized physician scientist, scholar, cardiologist and educator. He is also the President and CEO of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. The Gold Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering humanism in medicine.  "It encourages the development of physicians who combine the high tech skills of cutting-edge medical science with the high touch skills of communication, empathy and compassion."

The organization says that, "As the nature of doctor-patient relationship changes, compassion and empathy are essential." The Foundation fosters the development of empathy in healthcare thought a variety of ways and initiatives, such as,  lectures, conferences, physician networking, grants, fostering scientific research, award ceremonies, a website, etc.
Sub Conference: Health Care

How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion

Marc Brackett


Marc Brackett is a Research Scientist in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. He also is Deputy Director of Yale's Health, Emotion and Behavior Laboratory and Head of the Emotional Intelligence Unit in the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy.

He is the lead developer of The RULER Approach to Social and Emotional Learning, an evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) program that currently is implemented in hundreds of schools throughout the United States and abroad. The acronym RULER refers to the five key emotion skills of Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating emotions. Marc says authenticity is his most important value.

Sub Conference: Science

 How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Movies
Alex Gabbay

Alex Gabbay is a  Filmmaker and Director. His documentary, 'Love Hate and Everything in Between' is about empathy and looks into the world of neuroscience, psychology, education and technology to explore the extraordinary relevance of empathy in today’s increasingly interconnected world.  Man’s capacity for kindness and compassion is overshadowed only by his ability to be as cruel and destructive. Can empathy resolve issues of aggression and subjugation, where wars, politics and economic sanctions have failed?



Guernica by Pablo Picasso  (Wikipedia)


Can empathy resolve issues of aggression and

subjugation, where wars, politics and
economic sanctions have failed?


Empathy – a subject increasingly tested by world events and studied by scholars – is put under the microscope in this documentary. Alex and Edwin have a wide ranging discussion about the nature of empathy and his suggestions for building a culture of empathy.  
Sub Conference: Arts

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