Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Culture of Empathy Builder: Johan Galtung


Johan Galtung & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Peace

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


“By peace we mean the capacity to transform conflicts with empathy, without violence, and creatively — a never-ending process;” Johan Galtung

"...peace equals ability to handle conflict, with empathy, nonviolence, and creativity..." Johan Galtung

Johan Galtung & Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Peace


“TRANSCEND INTERNATIONAL connects autonomous individuals and centers working on peace by peaceful means, development by developmental means and environment by environmental means. The mission statement defines four pillars: To bring about a more peaceful world by using action, education/training, dissemination and research to handle conflicts with empathy, nonviolence and creativity.

I came across this training manual they connect empathy and peace
Search on empathy p 13

"Basic formula in transforming conflict
The basic formula, empathy for attitudes, non-violence for behavior, and creativity
for the contradictions, are tested basic tools for transforming conflict constructively
and effectively. These can be nurtured and strengthened through organization,
empowerment, consciousness-raising and training.

Empathy involves seeing common bonds, common experiences, shared ties, and
recognizing that there may be some validity and legitimacy in the other party’s goals,
just as there is some validity and legitimacy in our goals. It is therefore important
to first of all identify the contradictions and the root causes that gave rise to the
conflict before we can start thinking of overcoming and transcending violence as the
common challenge or common goal. The common goal is that which unites the parties
involved in the conflict. Seeing our common goals, rather than seeing the other as the
‘enemy’ and seeking its ‘defeat’ or ‘extermination’ is a good step towards transcending

Empathy, nonviolence and creativity are qualities that can be found in every single
individual human being. They can be promoted through education and up-bringing,
and in many cultures and communities, they grow richly. Many belief systems and
religions endorse and encourage their flourishing. Unfortunately, empathy, nonviolence
and creativity are often some of the first victims of violence and intractable conflicts.
Adversaries, as a rule, don’t see eye-to-eye, so that instead of trying to understand
the perspective of the ‘other,’ one party often dehumanizes, or demonizes the ‘other’,
blaming the conflict and the violence on ‘it’ to legitimize one’s own use of violence."

Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: Women and Men, Peace and Security

“Very much of the peace existing in the world is carried on the shoulders of women. That capacity should benefit humanity at all levels, micro-personal, meso-social, macro-states, mega-regions….More important than negotiation tables would actually be myriads of women, and men, capable of holism, dialectics, empathy, compassion, nonviolence, dialogue, handling conflict, building peace, creatively.”

Human Empathy vs. Metal, Things.
Observing Norwegian peacekeeping forces in Serbia-Beograd, with 30% women, women were clearly more interested in talking with Serbs, Croats and others to understand them better, and the men more interested in observing them, focused more on their binoculars, radar screens, armed vehicles, arms; metal, things. Closeness vs. distance. High empathy vs. low empathy. Crucial.

Peace Journalism

Peace journalism, the brainchild of Johan Galtung, aims to foster empathy and peace among conflicting parties. It does this by examining each party's viewpoints, as well as the antecedents to conflict... In war journalism, the media portrays conflicts as battles between two sides, good and evil, and fails to portray the nuances of any given situation.


Breaking the Cycle of Violent Conflict with Johan Galtung