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


Culture of Empathy Builder:  Elif Gokcigdem

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.



Fostering Empathy Through Museums
(View On YouTube or On Facebook)  





Fostering Empathy Through Museums

Fostering Empathy Through Museums features fifteen case studies with clear take-away ideas, and lessons learned by vividly illustrating a spectrum of approaches in the way museums are currently employing empathy, a critical skill that is relevant to personal, institutional, economical, and societal progress. 




Designing for Empathy: Perspectives on the Museum Experience

Designing for Empathy is a volume of twenty-five essays contributed by multidisciplinary thought leaders, collectively exploring the state of empathy for its design elements that might lead to positive behavior change and paradigm shift towards compassionate worldviews and action.


As museums are currently shaping their tools for fostering empathy as an intentional outcome of museum experiences, the idea of empathy-building is shaping them back as socially relevant institutions that increasingly value diversity, accessibility, and equality. This is a non-linear, multi-layered, and multi-dimensional transformation that requires multidisciplinary, cross-industries, and cross-sectors alliances for its sustainability. The potential of this collective transformation effort includes the invention of unconventional, evidence-based, and sustainable solutions that can be scaled up beyond the walls of traditional museums to all kinds of informal learning platforms to help eliminate the empathy-deficit in our world. 

Preface - Elif M. Gokcigdem
Introduction - Zorana Ivcevic

Part I: The Object of our Empathy:
How Do We Define and Perceive the "Other"?

  • Chapter 1: The Heart: The Heart's Knowledge Will Never Decay - Dario Robleto

  • Chapter 2: The Brain: Living Narratives: Neurobiology of Empathy - Erik Jahner

  • Chapter 3: Conscious Experience: Empathic Space and Shared Consciousness: Museums and the Application of the Spread Mind Theory - Riccardo Manzotti

  • Chapter 4: The Worldview: Empathy, Narcissism, and Visual Arts Engagement - Sara Konrath

  • Chapter 5: Augmented Reality: Augmenting Empathy and Decolonizing AR/VR Mediums: How Do We Reimagine Augmented and Virtual Reality Experiences? - Amir Baradaran and Isolde Brielmaier

Part II: The Alchemy of Empathy:
Fifteen design elements of empathy that make it conducive to be a state of transformation. The pitfalls and the potential of empathy.

  • Chapter 6: Intentionality: Discovering the Power of Art in Forging Empathic Connections - Jon Carfagno

  • Chapter 7: Intersectionality: Building Transformative Empathetic Experiences to Talk About RACE -
    Yolanda Moses and Joanne Jones-Rizzi

  • Chapter 8: Curiosity: Social Inquiry Exhibits: Fostering Social Learning in Museums - Thomas Rockwell, Joshua Gutwill, Heike Winterheld, and Shawn Lani

  • Chapter 9: Play: Building a Culture for Kindness Through Collaborative Design - Lisa Brahms and Anne Fullenkamp

  • Chapter 10: Vulnerability: From I to Thou: Transformation Through Traumatic Events - Andreas Heinecke

  • Chapter 11: Contemplation & Nuance: Found in Translation - Mohamed Zakariya

  • Chapter 12: Proximity: Designing for Place and People at the Border of Freedom: Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center - Seth Frankel

  • Chapter 13: Storytelling: Empathy in Environmental Communications: Why People Matter for Saving Nature - Anastasia Khoo, Jamey Anderson, and Conservation International

  • Chapter 14: Synchronicity: Tap Dancing Towards Empathic Communities - Andrew Nemr

  • Chapter 15: Awe & Wonder: Designing for Wonder: Losing Your Self at the Museum - Nicholas Bell

  • Chapter 16: Collective Journeying: Religious Pilgrimage and Sacred Relics as Empathy-Builders -Ari Gordon and Menachem Wecker

  • Chapter 17: Breaking Bread: Breaking Bread and Building Bridges: Repairing Ruptures in Our Communities - Reverend Jennifer Bailey, Lennon Flowers, Emily May, and The People's Supper

  • Chapter 18: Optimism & Hope: Optimism to Action: One Smithsonian, the Conservation Commons and the Earth Optimism Initiative - Catherine Christen

Part III: The Scope and the Spectrum of Empathy
Empathy as a Cross-Industrial Shared Value & Its Potential for People and the Planet

  • Chapter 19: Ethics & Values: Modeling Decency, Sir! - Elaine Heumann Gurian

  • Chapter 20: Our Planet & the Environment: The Anthropocene as Our Conscience - Emlyn Koster

  • Chapter 21: Education & Entrepreneurship: Educating for Empathy: Global Lessons from Schools and Social Entrepreneurs - Dana Mekler

  • Chapter 22: Innovation & Design: Designing Empathy into Machines: Lessons Learned from Designing Interactions for Autonomous Vehicles - Kursat Ozenc

  • Chapter 23: Societal Progress: Museums as Incubators of Innovation and Social Impact - Karleen Gardner



Empathy-Building Through Museums: The Alchemy of Empathy 




A Leading Voice for Growing Empathy Through Art Speaks to its Promise and Pitfalls

When Mia launched the Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts, in 2017, Elif Gokcigdem was among the project’s advisors. Born in Turkey, she became a historian of Islamic art and a scholar of museums themselves before focusing on building empathy. In her 2016 book, Fostering Empathy Through Museums, she introduced the notion that museums could function as sites of empathy-building and social change. Her latest book, Designing for Empathy, expands on this idea through the perspectives of researchers, academics, and museum professionals (including Mia’s Director of Learning Innovation, Karleen Gardner, writing about museums as incubators of innovation and social impact).



Five Ways Museums Can Increase Empathy in the World
Museums are a safe place to explore other points of view, cultures, and histories.
JANUARY 9, 2017
"Empathy is our inherent ability to perceive and share the feelings and thoughts of another. It allows us to connect with others who seem different, making us more aware of our commonalities. When we tune into empathy for others, we are more likely to act with compassion and altruism to help reduce their suffering. And, when we increase our caring for the environment, we are more likely to make choices that help preserve it for future generations."

A Heart to Heart Conversation on Empathy
FEBRUARY 14, 2015
"I find this discovery extraordinary, not only because it will lead to many medical treatments, but also because it simply touches my heart. This discovery makes me feel like I have just witnessed an extraordinary moment of empathic connection between a fully formed human heart, peering into and synchronizing with its microscopic origins and potential."


"Empathy-building through museums: What's in it for teachers and students?"
Interview with Elif Gokcigdem for Ashoka's Start Empathy Initiative

"Museums as Portals to Compassionate Worldviews Through Empathy-Building."
Poster presentation for "The Emergent Universe" -Science and Nonduality (SAND) Conference in San Jose