beEmpathy DESIGNING WITH AND FOR EMPATHY
In my Master thesis, I explore how design can mediate empathy among school children in order to foster creativity, intercultural competence, and complex identities. I focus on the psychology of empathy and on design-informed ways of establishing it. Not only does empathy define the framework of my design research and act as the driving spirit of my design process but it also formulates the desired outcome of my materialised project “beEmpathy”. Empathy is crucial in all human interactions and leads to both inclusion and well-being. Children’s health can be significantly supported by informing them about how to deal with emotions. While growing into adulthood, emotional intelligence enables children to develop the skill of empathy. Based on valuing and using empathy consciously and with care, my project aims to support children in building healthy relationships with themselves and others. “beEmpathy” provides a clear framework that makes empathy understandable and adaptive in daily interactions. It comes together with a pool of exercises for middle school classes that can be conducted individually or within a workshop. By defining empathy as an attitude and an ability, rather than a fixed set of methods, I bridge the “beEmpathy framework" to the field of design. I see my project as an encouraging suggestion of how Empathic Design can be applied in times of change and how it can be implemented in educational contexts. Through both individual and common experiences, my design process enabled me to develop a fundamental understanding of empathy that raises awareness for its importance as a designer, child, and first and foremost as a human being.