Empathy & Applied Perspective-Taking for Higher Education Practitioners
These workshops focus how and why to develop empathy and perspective-taking (applied empathy) as a skill for higher education practitioners (i.e., student affairs professionals, administrators, and faculty/instructors).*
*This workshop can be adapted for other professional settings.
Variable according to needs and interests. The suggested format is 8 2-hour sessions or two days. The workshop can be held virtually or in-person or broken down according to topic (see below).
- Need for empathy as a higher education leadership skill
- Overview of empathy and perspective taking scholarly research
- Empathy for self: self-compassion and burnout
- Empathy with students
- Empathy with colleagues and subordinates
- Empathy for social justice and equity
- Teaching empathy to students
- Teaching empathy as faculty/staff development
**Each topic can be held separately as its own, 3-hour workshop (virtual or in-person).
Guided by an adaptation of the Curriculum of Care (see Parson & Kitsch, 2022), this workshop structures understanding and developing empathy within higher education settings through an ethic of care. As a conceptual framework, the curriculum of care provides a model for how to conceptualize and approach empathy for higher education professionals. Specifically, an ethic of care can be seen to consider empathy and perspective-taking through three lenses: care for self, care for near others, and care for distant others (Noddings, 1999; 2002). Further, Keeling (2014) described the elements of acting within an ethic of care for the self and others as consisting of paying attention, accepting responsibility to act, being prepared to respond, and responding. Therefore, this workshop addresses care for self, care for near others, and care for distant others in the higher education context by providing specific examples and guidance so that practitioners develop the ability to pay attention, accept responsibility to act, are prepared to act, and act in each of the care domains.
Empathy is one’s ability experience the emotions and perspectives of another and respond appropriately according to their role, relationship, and the context of the interaction(s). A key component of empathy, referred to as cognitive empathy, is perspective-taking. Perspective-taking requires that one be able to put themselves in another person or group’s position and simulate their experiences and perspectives while remaining aware that these experiences and perspectives are not their own. This distance, and perspective-taking more broadly, requires an individual to recognize the distinction between the self and other(s) as they exist within systems of privilege and oppression and within cultural and historical contexts. As such, empathy and perspective-taking, which I define as applied empathy, is needed in higher education settings both to promote effective practice and to promote social justice and equity. Specifically, empathy and perspective-taking can help higher education practitioners to better understand the perspectives and needs of students and colleagues that hold different identities and have different backgrounds than themselves. Applying empathy and perspective-taking to practice can help higher education practitioners to develop the skills needed to support themselves and their students and colleagues leading to more effective educational settings. This workshop will help higher educational practitioners to do both.
If you are interested in learning more or if you’d like to schedule a workshop, please contact me.
Laura is an Assistant Professor of Educational and Organizational Leadership. Her Ph.D. is in Teaching & Learning, Higher Education from the University of North Dakota. Laura has developed and facilitated one- and two-day workshops on empathy and applied empathy for educators and leaders in the Air Force and Air University. Additionally, she has developed a conceptual framework for teaching empathy in the higher education classroom (see Parson & Kitsch, 2022) and created and taught a professional development course on empathy for K12 educators. She is also trained in mindfulness and yoga, and completed her 500-hr Yoga Teacher Training through Inbody Academy in 2022. She teaches virtual and meditation and yoga classes weekly and facilitates Teacher Training workshops and live classes on empathy and meditation. In her academic role, Laura teaches courses in organizational leadership, culture, and change.