Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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


Empathic Design
Empathy Circles

  Restorative Empathy Circles
Empathy Tent

Expert Interviews
Obama on Empathy


    Empathy Tests

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Best Ways to Learn, Practice and Deepen Empathy
Michele Borba

Michele Borba, is an internationally renowned educational psychologist and an expert in parenting, bullying, and character development. She is an award-winning author of twenty-two books translated into fourteen languages. One of the foremost authorities on childhood development in the country, she is a regular NBC contributor who appears regularly on Today and has been featured as an expert on Dateline, The View, Dr. Phil, NBC Nightly News, Fox & Friends, Dr. Oz, and The Early Show, among many others.  She is author of, UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World.


"Empathy is the root of humanity and the foundation that helps our children become good, caring people. But the Empathy Advantage also gives them a huge edge at happiness and success."

Sub Conference: Education

Bridging The Divide Of Polarizing
Conversations with Edwin Rutsch

Being interviewed by Justine Willis Toms on New Dimensions Radio.
See this link for Free Listening Through May 7, 2019.

For over 4 decades New Dimensions has been gleaning experience and inspiration from some of the world
's most innovative, enlightened, and trustworthy wisdom leaders as it sows the seeds of encouragement and confidence that, together, we can meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What is the history of the concept of empathy

  • What is the difference between empathy and sympathy

  • What are some physical traits we can cultivate to establish empathy with another

  • What is an example of connecting with a neighbor of a different political persuasion

  • How developing empathy is a gateway practice like developing a muscle

  • What is the process used in the Empathy Cafes both on-line and in person

  • How Rutsch set up an Empathy Tent at a Berkeley political rally

  • Why it is important to repeat back to the person what they have said without having to agree with them...

  • ....

Qualified Empathy
A key element for an empowerment professional

Eija Raatikainen

Eija Raatikainen (PhD / University of Helsinki) is a Principal lecturer in University of Applied Sciences of Metropolia in Social Service programme. Her academic focus is "Trust”, as phenomena in different field, as like in social work and educational practice.  Eija is coauthor of the study,  Qualified Empathy: A key element for an empowerment professional.

"In this paper, we will describe how teaching and learning to use empathy has been a part of studies for Social Services students. We argue that professional empathy can be approached in multisensory
ways when studying empathy.


 In our case, we have used traditional learning and teaching methods alongside creative methods such as visual arts and drama as ways to learn
and teach empathy."

Teaching Adults to Teach Empathy To Kids
Lynne Azarchi

Lynne Azarchi is Executive Director of Kidsbridge Tolerance Center outside of Trenton, New Jersey--a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering bullying prevention, diversity appreciation, anti-bias, empathy, and empowerment. Lynne is the author of, 'The Empathy Advantage: Coaching Children to Be Kind, Respectful, and Successful.'

Empathy may be not be a cure-all, but just a little effort can transform a child into a more sensitive, caring human being. The good news is that empathy - the ability to "walk in someone else's shoes" - can be taught. This book is all about teaching adults to teach empathy to kids. The payoff will last a lifetime.


Current State of the Empathy & Compassion Movements
 and where do we go from here?

James Doty



James Doty is Stanford Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery and founding director of the Center for the Study of Compassion and  Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). CCARE is striving to create a community of scholars and researchers, including neuroscientists, psychologists, educators and philosophical and contemplative thinkers around the study of compassion.

Edwin Rutsch is director of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. The center has many projects to help raise the level of empathy in our global society and culture.


A discussion about the current state of the empathy and compassion movements and where they might be headed. We discuss the Empathy Circle process as a way to hold constructive dialogues. CCARE becomes a cosponsor of the project to hold Empathy Circles between Congressional Representatives from the
political left, right and center.

About The Empathy University

Rasha Kutty

(View Video On Youtube)

Rasha Kutty is the founder of the Empathy University. Rasha is an advocate for empathy and firmly believes in the power of the individual to effect change in their surroundings, one step at a time.  The Empathy University's goal is to provide empathy training to educators  and corporate organizations to help grow a culture of empathy in the world. The Empathy University journey began with the realization that empathy is a revolutionary skill that can solve almost all unsettling issues facing humanity today.


Q. Why the focus on empathy? 

A.  Empathy;

  •  improves the quality of your interpersonal relationships.

  • boosts your happiness and creativity levels.

  • based work cultures are more productive, have higher employee satisfaction and retention rates.

  •  fights inequality and racism.

  • lowers incidences of domestic violence and sexual assault

Innovation & Constructive Change with Empathy

Amy J. Wilson

(View Video On Facebook or On Youtube)


Amy J. Wilson is a change leader, community builder, movement maker, and an empathy advocate. Amy specializes in building and sustaining cultures of innovation with a social good mission and is the author of Empathy for Change.


"If our bodies are wired for human connection, empathy is our beating heart. Often thought of as a "soft skill," empathy is a superpower that I've learned to wield for good and accept that it's my biggest strength.

I think of empathy as more than just "stepping into another's shoes" it's about feeling with each other to act, if needed. Empathy is responding to the thoughts and emotions of others with the purpose of meeting each other's needs."

Empathy as the Gateway and Path
Thom Bond


Thom Bond is a founder of New York City for Nonviolent Communication.  Thom is the creator and leader of, The Compassion Course and author of the Compassion Book: Lessons from the Compassion Course.

From the book,
"Empathy is the basic practice that brings me to compassion. It is ultimately quite simple, and quite challenging.


Empathy is the exploration of our human experience  - our feelings, our needs - our life-energy trying to emerge and guide us. It is the mindful question, the wondering and the genuine curiosity about what we or some else is going through."


It's time to harness the power of empathy.
Fostering Empathy Through Museums

Elif Gokcigdem 

Elif Gokcigdem is a thought leader, historian of Islamic art, and a museum scholar who is committed to creating fertile grounds of empathy through informal learning platforms to inspire positive behavior change, caring mindsets, and compassionate worldviews that value all of humanity and the planet.

Musée du Louvre - Hubert Robert (Wikipedia)

 It's time to harness the power of empathy by creating shared terminology, vision, and values across disciplines and sectors. As leaders of cross-industry dialogue and innovation, we are positioned to develop the standards and best practices of the empathy-building movement.

Empathy Activists Circle
How might we
grow the empathy movement?


A series of Empathy Circles with empathy activists. Most participants have written books or head programs on the topic. This is a way to explore the different facets of empathy together and for people in the field to get to know each other and exchange ideas and insights.

Edwin Rutsch: Director, Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

Jackie Acho: Author, Empathy Deficit Disorder: Healing from Our Mix-ups About Work, Home, and Sex

Anita Nowak: Author, The Empaths Strike Back! 

Jack Ricchiuto: Author, Simple Listening

The Empathy Instinct:
How to Create a More Civil Society

 Peter Bazalgette 

Peter Lytton Bazalgette is a British television executive and creative figure. He is a television producer who helped to create the independent TV production sector in the United Kingdom, and went on to be the leading creative figure in the global TV. He was Chair of Arts Council England from 2012 until 2016. He is the author of: The Empathy Instinct: How to Create a More Civil Society.


Empathy is the power of understanding others, imaginatively entering into their feelings.
It is a fundamental human attribute, without

which mutually cooperative societies

cannot function.

Empathy Circle with Empathy Activists
How might we build a more empathic society and culture?



This the first of a series of Empathy Circles with empathy activists.  Most participants have written books or head programs on the topic.  This is a way to explore the different facets of empathy together and for people in the field to get to know each other and exchange ideas and insights.  




Edwin Rutsch
Director, Center for Building a Culture of Empathy
"The Empathy Circle is the most effective gateway practice for
nurturing and practicing empathy that I know of."

Jackie Acho
Author, Empathy Deficit Disorder: Healing from Our Mix-ups About Work, Home, and Sex 
"The empathy deficit disorder is the result of an economic
 system built on the separation of work and home."

Minter Dial
Author, Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence 

"Here are five of the best ways to strengthen your empathy muscle
 and abilities: 1. Listen. Practice active listening, by
reformulating what you hear out loud..."

Anita Nowak
Author, The Empaths Strike Back! 

"Empathy is the most positively disruptive force on the planet,
but only when it leads to action. It's time for an
 empathic action revolution.



Empathy Deficit Disorder:
Healing from Our Mix-ups About Work, Home, and Sex

Jackie Acho

Jackie Acho is President of The Acho Group, a strategy and leadership consulting firm. Prior to founding The Acho Group in 2005, she was a Partner in the Midwest Complex of McKinsey & Company. She has worked for technology, industrial, academic, nonprofit, and economic development clients on a variety of issues, with particular focus on growth and innovation, strategy, and leadership development for more than 25 years. Jackie is co-author or Empathy Deficit Disorder: Healing from Our Mix-ups About Work, Home, and Sex.


The empathy deficit disorder is the result of an economic system built on the separation of work and home. This separation has devalued the most foundational form of empathy - the emotional, embodied, so-called affective empathy that is our birthright. As a result we have forgotten who we are...

(Source: Wikipedia Dance)
By aligning our new external reality with our innermost humanity, co-creation offers a solution to our empathy deficit disorder and an opportunity to unite our divided world. Empathy is that powerful.

Sub Conference: Workplace

Putting Empathy into
Business and Artificial Intelligence

Minter Dial

Minter Dial is a thought-leader, author, consultant and professional speaker. He is president and founder of Digitalproof Consultancy, a strategic firm providing digital and brand consulting to clients including Kering Group, Samsung, Google and L'Oreial.  Minter is author of, Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence. The objective of this book is to explore ways to increase empathy in business and machines.


For business, empathy may be the biggest untapped lever for productivity, customer fidelity and long-term profitability!

Source Wikipedia

Here are five of the best ways to strengthen your empathy muscle and abilities:

1. Listen. Practice active listening, by reformulating what you hear out loud...

2. Explore Differences....

3. Read Fiction...

4. Do Mindfulness...

5. Know Why....

Sub Conference: Workplace

Empathy A History

Susan Lanzoni



Susan Lanzoni is a historian of psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience and teaches at Harvard's School of Continuing Education. Her work has been featured in the Atlantic and American Scientist and on Cognoscenti on WBUR, Boston's NPR station.  She is author of Empathy: A History. The book tells the fascinating and largely unknown story of the first appearance of "empathy" in 1908 and tracks its shifting meanings over the following century.


History tells us that empathy comprises a complex,

artful but also effortful practice that enrolls
feelings, intellect, and imagination.



Empathy, in it's many varieties, offers an oblique and

 sometimes direct challenge to the idea that we are

enclosed selves, sharply defined against

 the world and others.



The Empathy Effect 

 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 author of The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences. "In this book, I hope to demonstrate how showing greater empathy toward your fellow human beings can enhance your own life and society as a whole. Through empathy, parents see their children for who they are, and help them realize their potential.

Teachers connect with students in ways that help learners discover and expand there talents. Businesses are more likely to thrive because they invest in the people working for them. Politicians start to represent the needs of their constituencies.

The arts have always been a connector for people of all walks of life to learn more about one another, find common ground, inspire curiosity rather than judgment, and provide shared mind empathic experiences that remind us that all people are part of the fabric of humanity. "


Sub Conference: Health Care

 Experiences with training and facilitating restorative circles and conflict resolution.

 L'aura Joy


L'aura Joy is a Certified Trainer in Nonviolent Communication, and since 2007 she has been working in the fields of communication, conflict resolution, peace and justice, healing, and decision-making and leadership.

Having grown up in Auroville, an international intentional community in Tamil Nadu, India, L'aura is passionate about exploring how we can live our lives in empowered and co-creative ways. Nonviolent Communication (NVC) offers such a clear, yet deeply powerful and transformative framework within which to explore both our inner realities as well as outer relationships. L'aura is also trained in Restorative Circles and Sociocracy, and she applies these approaches to her work with justice and governance in Auroville.

Contemporary Perspectives on Empathy,
Compassion and Self-Compassion

Chad Woodruff



Chad Woodruff is a Cognitive Neuroscientist who uses neuroimaging techniques  to investigate social and cognitive processes. Chad has had extensive experience as a graduate student, post-doctoral fellow, and an assistant professor with neuroimaging and has mentored undergraduate students in the use of these techniques for 10 years.

He is co-editor of, The Neuroscience of Empathy, Compassion, and Self-Compassion. The book provides contemporary perspectives on the three related domains of empathy, compassion and self-compassion.


It informs current research, stimulates further research endeavors, and encourages continued and creative philosophical and scientific inquiry into the critical societal constructs of empathy and compassion.


Sub Conferences: Science


Political Left and Right Empathy Circle

Topic: How Might We Bridge the Political Divides?

View On Youtube  - On Facebook - October 12, 2018



Hosted by: Empathy Tent 
building a culture of empathy
As part of the Empathy Tent and National Week of Conversations Project we hold a Democracy Circle (Empathy Circle) on How might we bridge the Political Divides in the USA? We invite participants from all points on the political spectrum to take part.
 Take Part in Left-Right Empathy Circle.

For National Week of Conversation Project
Mending the frayed fabric of America by bridging divides one conversation at a time. Americans of all stripes are stepping up to address the growing cultural crisis of hyper-polarization and animosity across divides. Together we can turn the tide of rising rancor and deepening division with widespread conversations.




The Empathy Initiative
 to change lives and improve the quality of care
Tracy Levett-Jones

Tracy Levett-Jones is the Professor of Nursing Education and Discipline Lead at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Her research interests include: empathy, belongingness, clinical reasoning, interprofessional education, cultural competence, simulation and patient safety. Tracy has authored ten books, the most recent being 'Clinical Reasoning: Learning to think like a nurse' and 'Critical Conversations for Patient Safety'; as well as nearly 200 book chapters, reports and peer reviewed journal articles.


The Empathy Initiative is a group of like-minded academics and practitioners with a strong belief in the power and potential of empathy to change lives and improve the quality of care provided to patients/clients/residents.


Our group shares a commitment to undertaking collaborative empathy research that has the capacity to transform education and practice. The purpose of the Empathy Initiative is to generate high quality, rigorous empathy/compassion research that informs and influences student learning and patient care, either directly or indirectly.
Sub Conference: Health Care

C..inneapolis Institute of Art
Karleen Gardner



Karleen Gardner is Director of Learning at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She also heads up the Center for Empathy and Visual Arts.

Mia envisions taking a leading role in collaborating with museum colleagues as well as researchers, scholars, content experts, and other influencers to research and explore practices for fostering empathy and global awareness through the power of art and to share these findings with the field.

In our increasingly divisive world, polarized by issues regarding politics, racial inequities, marriage equality, global warming, income disparities, and immigration policies, it becomes clear that our failures to understand other people's feelings are exacerbating prejudice, conflict, and inequality.



Musée du Louvre - Hubert Robert (Wikipedia)


If we wish to develop not only a more equal society but a happier and more creative one, we will need to look outside ourselves and attempt to identify with the experiences of others. This critical skill is called empathy, which "has the power to transform relationships, from the personal to the political, and create fundamental social change".


UC Berkeley: Effective Expression of Empathy
Alissa Stover



Alissa Stover is new gradate in Psychology from UC Berkeley. She along with other students, designed and facilitated a series of empathy classes there over a several year period.  The Empathy Tent Team worked with the classes to facilitate the empathy circle practice and set up the empathy tent in Sproul plaza.  We dialogue with Alissa about her experience facilitating the classes.


Empathy Tent at UC Berkeley Sproul Plaza

We believe that empathy is not only fascinating as a concept, but important as a skill on an individual and societal level. By the end of this course we aim to have a better understanding of empathy and to feel more able to use it in our daily lives.



 Noah Berlatsky - Against Empathy
Edwin Rutsch - For a Culture of Empathy

(View On YouTube or On Facebook)

Edwin dialogues and empathizes with

Noah about his article: 
The Case Against Empathizing With Trump Supporters



"Empathy isn't the solution to our political crisis..... 
 In practice, unfortunately, empathy is an imperfect tool for political or moral change, one that can exacerbate divisions rather than healing them. Trump himself leverages empathy to enable his administration's bigotry and cruelty and to justify eroding political norms."


"Empathy is the solution to our political crisis and here is why...."


Responses to
"Misuse of Empathy Is Devaluing Pain"

Matthew Delaney

Matthew Delaney is an editor and reporter for a local newspaper in the Washington, D.C. metro area. He wrote an article in the magazine Quillette, titled The Misuse of Empathy Is Devaluing Pain. He had a wide range of criticism of empathy, saying it is; divisive, self-centered, and unhelpful. It makes people take sides in a conflict, supports cancel culture, it leads to tribalism, and temps us into immediacy. Matt feels hopeless that society will change for the better or overcome it's polarization and that it will have to hit a rock bottom before it can change.

Edwin listens to and empathizes with Matt and shows how he is misunderstanding the nature of empathy.  He explains how the qualities he is criticizing are not empathy, but the blocks to empathy.

EMPATHY WEEK: Feb 22-26, 2021

 We Are Building The Empathy Generation
Ed Kirwan


Ed Kirwan is a filmmaker, teacher, coach and founder of Empathy Week, which runs Feb 24 through Feb 28th 2021.  Empathy Week is an invitation for young people across the world to put empathy into action, developing the skills of leadership and resilience along the way.

5 Tips to Cultivate Empathy
Alexandra Smith


Alexandra Smith is a licensed professional clinical counselor and writer based in Minneapolis. She wrote the article, 5 Tips to Cultivate Empathy. In this dialogue we discuss the article and her tips. She writes,

Practicing empathy is an essential step to resolving conflict and developing meaningful relationships. Here are five ways to activate empathy.

  1. Shift into an empathy-ready mindset..

  2. Ask open-ended questions...

  3. Practice active listening...

  4. Recognize the limits of empathy...

  5. Pass it on...


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