Building a Culture of Empathy: A Conversation with Elif M. Gökçiğdem

Monday, March 08, 2021
07:00pm EDT

Location CHQ Assembly Video Platform

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Founding President, ONE: Organization of Networks for Empathy

In the first of a series of CHQ Assembly programs previewing issues to be explored through the 2021 Chautauqua Lecture Series, Elif M. Gökçiğdem, founding president of ONE: Organization of Networks for Empathy, sits down with Matt Ewalt, Vice President and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education, to discuss her work helping institutions design for empathy and Chautauqua’s wide-ranging exploration of empathy planned for this summer during Week Six, “Building a Culture of Empathy,” July 31–Aug. 7.

Chautauqua Institution has also partnered with Gökçiğdem and ONE to present the “Designing for Empathy Workshop Series” for Chautauqua’s online classroom (learn.chq.org), an 11-part series beginning Wednesday, March 10, featuring empathy experts from different disciplines and sectors.

Gökçiğdem is an author and thought leader whose work is at the intersection of arts, culture, human development, innovation and social progress. The editor of two books on empathy-building, Fostering Empathy Through Museums and Designing for Empathy: Perspectives on the Museum Experience, she is a historian of Islamic art and a museums scholar 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.

In 2017, Gökçiğdem started the Designing for Empathy programs, which offer customized experiential empathy-building workshops and lectures, as well as an annual Designing for Empathy Summit. Gökçiğdem curated and led the world’s first Empathy Summit with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2018, in Dharamsala, India, where her Empathy-Building Through Museums Initiative was invited to bring 30 multidisciplinary experts to learn from the Dalai Lama. She is an adviser to several pioneering empathy initiatives by major U.S. museums, including Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Center for Empathy and Visual Arts, as well as the Advancing Empathy for Wildlife collaborative by the Seattle Aquarium, the Woodland Park Zoo, and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. 

Founded by Gökçiğdem in late 2020, ONE: Organization of Networks for Empathy is intended to innovate and advance ideas, tools, standards and best practices of empathy-building beyond museums, establishing empathy as a shared value across disciplines and sectors.