Fighting the Empathy Deficit: How the Arts Can Make Us More Compassionate

Stanford University’s Jane Shaw is a kind of empathy activist.

“How do you make the leap,” she said a few days ago, “to understand the experience of another person is really what empathy’s about.

Shaw, Stanford’s Dean for Religious Life, was showing me around a small-but-choice exhibit called Empathyat Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center.

The show is a companion piece to a class on empathy Shaw is teaching this fall, and a way for any museum goer to engage with a hot topic these days for religious scholars, neuroscientists, artists and politicians

Everyone from President Barack Obama to social psychologists are reporting a deficit in empathy and or a lack of compassion among college students, and a corresponding rise in narcissism.

.By Cy Musiker