Culture of Empathy Builder:
Zoe Weil is President of the
Institute for Humane Education (IHE). IHE works to create a
world in which we all live humanely, sustainably, and peaceably.
We do this by training people to be humane educators who teach
about the pressing issues of our time and inspire people to work
for change while making healthy, humane, and restorative choices
in their daily lives. We also work to advance the field of humane
education, and to provide tools and inspiration to people
everywhere so that they can live examined, meaningful lives
2011-04-11 - Zoe
Weil Talks about Empathy and Humane Education
founder and president Institute for Humane
offer graduate degree in Humane Education
Human rights, animal protection,
What is Humane Education?
explores connections between Human rights,
animal protection, environmental preservation and works to create a
generation of solutionaries
change makers for solving problems
I looked up the word Humane - is
kindness and compassion?
I also looked up the word
thought human with an e, e for extra or
humans were the cause of the problems
definition is also it is the best qualities of
I started asking my audience what the best
qualities of being human is?
not a single person has said greed,
3:15 How does empathy and compassion relate in
I use the words interchangeably
There are 4 elements I try to convey to
I see the empathy and compassion piece
coming into play in the 3rd element
reverence is similar to compassion and
when we can appreciate others people, other
species, environment - that cultivates our sense of compassion,
and our ability to feel with
that leads to acting with respect and
Awe and wonder?
Rachel Carson author Silent Spring, talks about awe.
tries to cultivate a sense of wonder
justice as a motivation - right and wrong.
many of us have Wonder as a motivation and
ignites our action
when working with students want them to have
a sense of wonder, awe, reverence
students stand on milk crates to feel what
it's like to be a chicken in a battery cage
tying knots link children in a rug factory
helps awaken empathy and compassion
Activities for wonder
8:15 My looking at the stars as a child
I'm focusing on the empathy part, looks like
role playing is a way you tap into it?
11:00 How do we create a culture of empathy?
Social physiology experiments
The Stanford Prison experiment
About obedience to authority
Tells us that empathy doesn't just come from
within us and that we act upon all the time
We are susceptible to the situations and
systems we are in
To build a culture of empathy we need to be
sure the systems and situation around us are humane and sustainable and
just. Because we will go with the flow
If that flow is going to be cruel and
destructive, that will suppress our empathy
even though we all are empathetic, and have
capacity for tremendous kindness, and compassion
we can also go in this other directions
To build a culture of empathy, we have make
sure the systems in place, food systems, transportation systems,
clothing, product systems are humane and sustainable. and just
it takes a lot of effort to buck the system
We have to work on changing those systems
15:00 What can we do to change the systems
to support empathy?
I don't know how to change all the systems,
there are so many out there.
I have the method to get to that answer
The method is humane education
It's embracing a different purpose for
if we educate our students at all levels to
understand what is happening in the world and to find solutions
Students can think of how to change those
As they get older they will begin to change
There is not one way to change the system,
it's going to require all of us.
It will require all of our ingenuity,
creativity coming from a place of empathy and compassion
invite students to use their great hearts
and minds in the service of solving these problems.
Then we will see the systems change
17:40 Seems that we need to start with an
corporations can pursue profits but not at
the expense of environment
we can't impose empathy
there are systems in place that prevent it
need to look at each of those systems
we have seen things change, and that change
has come mainly from empathy and compassion
I don't think we can impose it from outside
but rather cultivate it from within
and we all have it within
we have to make sure that those systems
don't prevent us from living according to our own deepest values
20:15 - Have you seen systems that are
everywhere all the time
there are community gardens, schools
the challenge lies in dismantling large
they create alienation
the challenge is to bring it home
we have other qualities that are not so kind
and we struggle with those
22:00 How has empathy developed personally
in your life?
some people said I was born overly sensitive
I was always attune to to others suffering
remember as a child seeing movies and I
could stop crying
found a way to put it toward good use
I was just born with it.
24:00 Animal rights people are attacking and
judging me for fishing?
calling anyone a terrible person is terrible
thing to do
none of us is making perfectly empathetic
choices all the time.
is fishing really aligned with your value
my Achilles heal is traveling for vacation
and the environmental effect
wrote book: Most Good, Least Harm
27:00 I don't think we can build a culture
of empathy with judgment.
we need to empathize our way to a culture of
we judge all the time, but should not be
I try to help people do the best they can
the helping is humane education and that's
what we try to do.
Empathy Blogs by Zoe
TEDxDirigo - Zoe Weil - THE WORLD BECOMES WHAT YOU TEACH