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Richard Miller
Director, Poynter Center

John Bodnar
Director, Institute for Advanced Study

Last modified: Monday, October 24, 2011

November symposium at IU Bloomington to explore theory and practice of empathy

Oct. 24, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Scholars in literature, psychological and brain sciences, history, religious studies, philosophy, political science, education, law, sociology, and aesthetics will convene at Indiana University Bloomington, Nov. 11-12, to explore empathy's many dimensions in private and public life.

Richard Miller

Richard Miller is director of the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions.

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Hosted by IU's Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions and the IU Institute for Advanced Study, the upcoming symposium "Empathy: Self, Society, Culture" will begin at 1 p.m. on Friday and end at 6 p.m. Saturday on the IU Bloomington campus.

The symposium aims to explore theories and practices of empathy in three broad areas: empathy and psychology; empathy and ethics; and empathy in culture, history, and society. It grows out of a two-year project on "Virtuous Empathy: Scientific and Humanistic Investigations" that has involved nine IU faculty, a postdoctoral fellow, and a dissertation fellow.

John Bodnar

John Bodnar directs the Institute for Advanced Study,

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"This interdisciplinary project that brings the humanities and the sciences together has yielded insights into the meanings of empathy," said Sarita Soni, vice provost for research at IU Bloomington. "I congratulate the Poynter Center and Institute for Advanced Study for their impressive collaboration around this topic and expect that this symposium will address long held questions and raise new ones."

The symposium is sponsored by a grant from the Office for the Vice Provost for Research.

Keynote speakers for the event are:

  • Carolyn Dean (History, International Studies, Brown University), "The Longing for Human Dignity and its Relation to 'Virtuous' Empathy"
  • Nancy Eisenberg (Psychology, Arizona State University), "Empathy-Related Responding in Children: Relations with Positive Moral and Social Development"
  • Nancy Sherman (Philosophy, Georgetown University), "Recovering Lost Goodness: Self-Empathy and Self-Forgiveness"

The public is welcome to attend; admission is free but requires registration. The abstracts, agenda, registration form, and travel information are available at and

Support for the Poynter Center's project on "Virtuous Empathy" came from the University of Chicago (sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation), with additional support from the Institute for Advanced Study, the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions, the Office for the Vice Provost for Research and the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences.

For further information on the symposium, see or contact Richard Miller,, 812 855-0261 or John Bodnar,, 812 855-7917.