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Empathy project goes online

Since its launch in September 2016, the Cornell Race and Empathy Project has recorded, archived and shared the everyday stories of Cornellians that evoke racial empathy. The physical incarnation of the project – a cozy listening booth shaped like a stylized ear – is showing wear and tear and will have to be retired.

To continue fostering the ability to identify and understand the feelings of someone of a different background, the project has evolved into an online presence.

“This online archive provides a record of the responses that we have gathered over the past one-and-a-half years and makes them available to a broader audience,” said Corinna Loeckenhoff, associate professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology and of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The project was funded through the Cornell Council for the Arts’ 2016 biennial and meant to remain open for three months. Because of strong resonance with the local community, the project has remained active with stopovers at Mann Library, the Human Ecology Commons, Gates Hall and off-campus venues.

Along with Loeckenhoff, the project is managed by Anthony Burrow, associate professor of Human Development, and Francois Guimbretiere, associate professor of Computing and Information Science.

According to research, interracial conversations can be experienced as stressful, which limits willingness to engage in them. Yet powerful stories of racial empathy exist and, when shared, can provide opportunities to celebrate one another’s joy and happiness or lament suffering and grief.

The digital archive features thoughts and ideas gathered over the years, provides a space for conversation and invites users to listen to other’s stories, write a response and share their own story.

- Stephen D’Angelo

Media Contact

Lindsey Hadlock