There is a recent groundswell of interest in empathy; CEOs, best-selling authors, and international leaders have identified empathy as one of the most important leadership skills of the 21st century. Generally understood as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another,” empathy will play an increasingly important role in our interdependent and hyper-connected world. Whether your challenge is to build a collaborative team, become a skilled professional, or advocate effectively for social justice, empathy is a vital leadership capacity.
Decades of scientific research and leadership practice have reinforced one clear message: empathy is much more than being “nice.” As such, this unique course invites you to study the scientific basis of empathy and explore creative ways to apply your knowledge and skills in the real world. To start with, students will examine cases studies of recent world events to develop an appreciation for empathy as a critical component of effective leadership. Then, the course will delve into cutting-edge research from social psychology and cognitive neuroscience, where you will examine scientific research on the role empathy plays in our day-to-day interactions, explore psychological mechanisms behind understanding others’ minds and “catching” others’ emotions, acquire tools to measure empathy in individuals and research projects, and form well-informed opinions on how empathy connects to prosocial behaviors, morality, and world justice. Incorporating techniques from acting and improvisation, students will “step into other's shoes and walk a few inches,” cultivating their interpersonal sensitivity. The course will culminate with the development of an Action Plan that will promote empathy, compassion, and social harmony in students’ local communities, providing you with ample opportunity to further develop your empathy “muscle.”
The only prerequisite for this course is a commitment to supporting an open-minded, responsive, and collaborative learning environment. This course is ideal for students who have interest in psychology, cognitive science, and/or any career that requires intercultural competence, people skills, and ethical leadership.
This course is part of the Leadership Institute program, a 2-week immersive experience with busy days. Our mission is to help students develop and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes associated with effective and socially responsible leadership. The Leadership Institute consists of three elements: academic content, leadership development, and the Action Plan. Participants are intellectually curious and compassionate students who are interested in social issues and creating positive change.
Additional programmatic information may be found here
Prerequisites: None required