Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

   Home    Conference   Magazine   Empathy Tent   Services    Newsletter   Facebook    Youtube   Contact   Search

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


Conference  -  Panels  -  Possible Panels  -  Facebook Event  -  Education  -  Volunteer - [Planning]

International Online Conference on:
How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion?
Permanently Ongoing

Sub Conference: Arts
How to Build
a Culture of Empathy with the Arts

Empathy in the Arts Magazine
  Empathy and Compassion in the Arts
 (Drawing, Writing, Stories, Poetry, Music, Dance, Fine Art, etc)

Empathy for Actors and Animators
Ed Hooks and Edwin Rutsch

Ed Hooks has been an entertainment industry professional for more than three decades. He has appeared in more than 100 television programs and films and is one of the most respected acting teachers in the United States. Since 1996, Professor Hooks created acting training specifically for animators, and his system is used by leading animation schools internationally.


Performance animation is all about empathy,
and we discuss it extensively in every class I teach...
To be very clear: you, as an animator, should try to
 create an empathetic response for your character.


A projecting praxinoscope, Wikipedia


"Performance animation is all about empathy, and we discuss it extensively in every class I teach. The word "empathy" is the English translation of the German "Einfuhlung", which means "to project yourself into what you observe", and it did not appear in the English language until the 1920's.  The word "sympathy" has been in use far longer, and that is why the two are at times erroneously considered interchangeable. 

Even Charlie Chaplin, the person who literally brought empathy to comedy, never used the correct word.  He said "sympathy" and meant "empathy". To be very clear:  you, as an animator, should try to create an empathetic response for your character"

Sub Conference: Arts

Fear, Creativity and Empathy with 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...  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

Anne Paris: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Children's Books

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.

Also, Anne is coauthor (text) with Marian Brickner (photography) of  Empathy Magic: Insides Out.. A new book that is a fun and whimsical way to introduce young children to EMPATHY. Stunning photographs of bonobo apes illustrate what empathy is, and how empathy helps build good relationships with family and friends. Cute, fun, and engaging. A wonderful tool to help facilitate social skills development, as well as to prevent later problems such as bullying, school violence, and depression. Geared towards children aged 3-7.
Sub Conference: Home & Family and Arts

 Danielle Ofri and Edwin Rutsch: How to Transform Medicine with Empathy and Stories

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

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


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

Diana Castle: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Acting and Imagination

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

 Ron MacLean: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Fiction

Ron MacLean is author of the novels Headlong and Blue Winnetka Skies and the story collection Why the Long Face? His fiction has appeared in GQ, Fiction International, Best Online Fiction 2010, and elsewhere.


He is a recipient of the Frederick Exley Award for Short Fiction and a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee. He teaches at Grub Street in Boston.

 Ron wrote the article: Is Fiction Empathy’s Best Hope? We discussed his article and the relationship of empathy and fiction writing.  "What I do care about is the loss of our ability to identify with others. Empathy is a muscle that must be exercised lest it atrophy. It’s a seed that must be cultivated in order to grow—to live. And in a sped-up society in which connection is increasingly fleeting and often virtual, we can’t take empathy for granted anymore.....


 It’s paradoxical, even absurd—this idea that made-up stories can develop in us an essential human quality. The idea that reading about people who don’t exist could expand our capacity to care about, and act on behalf of, people who do. But it’s true."
Sub Conference: Arts

George Lewis and Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Photography

George Lewis is a photographer exploring the nature of empathy. He says, "For me, one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is to make people more visible to one another, to find ways for people to engage, empathize, and learn of each other’s deepest values and concerns. We need to lay the foundations for a new global human identity, one that transcends differences and is predicated on mutual understanding and respect, celebrating the beauty of difference. In short my art is all about Empathy. "
Sub Conference: Arts

 Alex Gabbay & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Movies

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?

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

 Dee Reynolds: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Kinesthetic Empathy

Dee Reynolds is professor of French at the University of Manchester.

Dee is editor/author of, among other books, Kinesthetic Empathy in Creative and Cultural Practices.  A key interdisciplinary concept in our understanding of social interaction across creative and

cultural practices, kinesthetic empathy describes the ability to experience empathy merely by observing the movements of another human being. 

Dee is a founder of the 'Watching Dance: Kinesthetic Empathy' project that uses audience research and neuroscience to explore how dance spectators respond to and identify with dance. It is a multidisciplinary project, involving collaboration across organizations and four institutions. The project has a website, Ning group and held a conference.
Sub Conference: Arts.


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

Tal-Chen Rabinowitch & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Music Arts

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.

 She 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
Happy the Movie - Director Roko Belic talks with Edwin Rutsch about how
Empathy is a Foundation of Happiness


(Movie Trailer) The core of human nature, I think, is based on empathy and compassion. It's extremely rare to find someone that does not empathize in some way or form naturally. The Dalai Lama said it best, it's not a religious thing, it's not a political idea, this is the way we are born, this is in our blood.

Empathy, compassion, living by the golden rule, all of those things are so critical to, not only to your own personal happiness, but to the sustainability of our societies and of the human race. So empathy is, I think, one of the core ingredients, not only for a happy life, but of a happy world.
On Vimeo - Youtube

Sub Conference: Arts

Eva Vigran: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Dance 

Empathy is like water, it flows and takes any shape. The opposite of empathy is like cold hard ice.  In the dance we begin with self-empathy, by feeling into ourselves, melting the stress points, finding out what is going on in our bodies. We get away from the words and can feel our breath and gravity. We can then start to feel and empathize with others. Our drop of water merges with others and we become a third body.
Sub Conference: Arts


Rhonda Morton: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with the Arts


If we use the body data, and our body knowledge, and our body wisdom to increase that connection, to increase that empathy, decrease the violence, we can have world peace....  So please join me, become an Empathy Ambassador too.
Sub Conference: Arts

Lynn Johnson & Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Arts Education 

Lynn Johnson is CEO of Glitter & Razz Productions and theater artist dedicated to building strong connections with creative & compassionate people to bring about positive social change.


Using the expressive arts and theater to promote and teach empathy to children and adults. We believe that play lights us up and connects us. We believe that compassion is a skill that can be taught and practiced.
Sub Conference: Education  and  Arts

Edwin Rutsch & Gillian Vellet: Dialogs on Building a Culture of Empathy with Art Therapy 
  Gillian has an interdisciplinary background in dance, art education, fine art, expressive arts therapies, shamanic studies, cultural studies, art psychotherapy, biodanza dance movement, massage therapy, cranio-sacral therapy, and visceral manipulation.  Gillian's 14 years of Art Psychotherapy & counseling experience specialization...
Sub Conference: Arts
 Seung Chan Lim
  The Connections Between Empathy And Creativity
Realizing Empathy on Creativity, Innovation, and Transformation

Sub Conference: Arts

Dan Roberts: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with Clowns

Dan Roberts is Founder and Executive Director of the Red Nose Foundation in Indonesia which is transcending boundaries through play. 

 Red Nose Foundation provides children with a place to learn and play together, no matter one’s race, religion or economic standing. Through the structured study of physical arts (circus), the children learn that a success is celebrated as a team, and a failure is to be challenged together.  Red Nose Foundation uses a three-step model to support the development of empathy in our students and to teach them skills to build and reach their dreams. The first stage is pure arts exploration. The program was one of winners of the Activating Empathy competition
Sub Conferences: Education and Arts






James Lipton, creator and host of "Inside the Actors Studio", talks about which acting insights he has found most valuable


Methods for acting


1. Memories.

"Emotional memory
was what Lesmenskaya taught when she remained behind from the Moscow Art Theater and Strasberg and others were very influenced by it. It is what people sometimes think of as the Stanislavski System, in which one recalls one’s own experiences that are similar to, or maybe even identical to the experiences of the character and brings back from the core of one’s being the experience.  It isn’t really what people think it is. It is more complex and more interesting than I have described it because it isn’t just vanishing from the world and remembering when the dog died and then opening one’s eyes with tears...


Simply remembering what was the time of day, was it night, was it day. Was it outside, was it inside. It was inside. Do you remember the room? Was the room warm? Cold? Can you see the wallpaper, or the paint, etc. Refining and defining and recalling in the most intimate detail the experience. Not necessarily aloud, but in one’s own recollection. Usually under the guidance of a director and what happens is that when you reach a certain point in that exercise of affective memory, emotional memory, you begin to relive it so vividly that whatever emotions you had at the time come flooding back. " Stanislavski stopped using this method.


2. What do you want? (needs?)

"Stanislavski said for that very reason, and instead I am interested in what the character wants at any given moment. “In the given circumstances you must be rooted in the play. Do not depart from the play. Don’t cut yourself off from your partner in the scene, or partners. Don’t go so deep in yourself that you no longer exist for your partner and for the character and for the play, said Stanislavski, and said Stella. You must be so thoroughly immersed in the given circumstances of the play, then you decide what it is at any given moment what that the actor wants. And when you try to achieve what that actor wants, as ardently, as the character wants, I should say, when you try to achieve it, the emotions will come


3. Listening

"And then I would add to that the fact that all of these great teachers, Strasberg, Stella, Meisner, Lewis, Clurman, all of them, they emphasize listening. Now, you’re listening to me, right? When you speak to me, I am listening to you. In life we listen to other people. Listen with varying degrees of concentration and attention, right?


Actors must learn to listen in a different way. Alan Alda, who really understands these things very well, I think, on our stage Inside the Actor’s Studio, said, the way to understand listening, the act and art of listening is the following.


If what you hear changes you in any way, you’ve heard it, you listened. If it doesn’t, and we all listen, we listen all the time in our lives, we’re listening to television, we’re listening to our mates at dinner, we’re listening to the traffic in the street, we listen, but this is a different kind of listening.


This is a listening that is so acute that is so focused and concentrated that if the other person, the other actor says, I have some very bad news for you, your mother has died, it really hits."..


"I often ask our guests, we’ve had 250 of them in 16 years on Inside the Actor’s Studio and of our school. What’s the single most important thing that you would tell an actor? Listen. Listen. But it’s that particular kind of listening of which an actor becomes capable in time, it doesn’t happen in a day."



Meryl Streep discusses the role of Empathy in her life and acting