Empathy can be a powerful tool for action. Just look at how students across the nation mobilized to support the victims of the Parkland school shooting. But waiting for something drastic and tragic to happen is not the way we want to build empathy in our young people. So how can we use historical empathy—or “the process of understanding people in the past by contextualizing their actions”—to help them engage with history and process their own roles in the world today?
It's the season for resolutions. The beginning of a new year makes us promise ourselves to be more healthy or to get more sleep or to spend more time with family. But what about practicing more empathy—that is, the ability to sincerely understand and share someone else’s feelings? Jane McGonigal, world-renowned game designer and Director of Game Research and Development for the Institute for the Future, says you can. And she can tell you how.
We often think of empathy as a virtue—it’s sometimes used synonymously with terms like “compassion” and “understanding.” But empathy is more complicated than that. Sometimes there’s that feel-good, tender variety that helps us connect deeply with and nurture others. Then there’s also the I feel exactly what you are feeling variety that weighs us down with feelings of unsolvable pain.
Part of challenging our students is challenging ourselves as educators. That’s why Facing History is excited to announce the 2017 Margot Stern Strom Innovation Grants. This year, we’re challenging you to think about how you can bring “hard empathy” into the classroom. You could be one of 12 educators to receive $2,500 to bring your project to life.
Right around the time the Syrian refugee crisis was at the height of its media coverage in the US, I noticed a familiar kind of backlash on my newsfeed. Amidst the photos showing desperate throngs of people escaping with only their lives, between the articles imploring me to donate or explaining how I could help Syrian refugees, I saw another kind of plea: "Don't let them in."
Can you practice being more empathetic—that is, the ability to sincerely understand and share someone else’s feelings? Jane McGonigal, world-renowned game designer and Director of Game Research and Development for the Institute for the Future, says you can. And she can tell you how.
From November 13-14 Facing History and the Institute for the Future launched Face the Future, an online game for social change. For 30 hours, students, teachers, and community members from around the world gathered virtually to imagine the future of empathy. Daniel Braunfeld, Senior Program Associate for Special Projects, shares his experience playing the game, which is set in the year 2026—and how it is changing the way he lives in 2016.
From November 13-14, Facing History and Institute for the Future will virtually gather secondary school students, educators, and community members from around the world to play Face the Future: A Game About the Future of Empathy. Set in 2026, the game invites us to think about what empathy might look like—and how that future will impact the choices we make today. Read more from Jane McGonigal, world-renowned game designer and Director of Games Research and Development at the Institute for the Future, about why you should care about imagining the future.
Guest blogger, Clara Ramírez-Barat, shares how a two-year research project with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is exploring innovative strategies to engage young people in justice and peace-building efforts through education. Facing History’s international director, Karen Murphy, has played a lead role in this emerging field. She wrote a case study for that project and previously teamed up with ICTJ to develop a children’s guide to the Kenyan Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission to help youth address complex parts of their country’s history.
Recently, I drove from Facing History’s office in the East Bay to Silicon Valley to attend a youth civic hackathon. As I passed by the giant “like” sign at Facebook’s sprawling campus on One Hacker Way in Menlo Park, I found myself thinking about hacking, technology, social media status updates, and also about empathy.