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Common Experience

The Gift of Empathy: Seeing the World through the Eyes of Another

The primary purpose of the Indiana University Southeast Common Experience Program is to develop a common dialogue among students, faculty, staff, and members of the local communities. The theme or dialogue of this year’s program is “The Gift of Empathy: Seeing the World through the Eyes of Another.”

Empathy has been defined as the ability to see the world as another person, to share and understand another person’s feelings, needs, concerns and/or emotional state. President Barack Obama stated in 2006: I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit - the ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes; to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us - the child who's hungry, the steelworker who's been laid off, the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. When you think like this, when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, whether they are close friends or distant strangers; it becomes harder not to act; harder not to help.

There are many ways to participate in this program. One may attend some or all of our numerous programs and events scheduled over the course of the academic year. These programs are designed to allow you to “see the world through the eyes on another.” One may also read our common reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon (2003) and engage in book discussions in either the fall or spring semesters. Students can register in almost 40 courses that have assigned the common reading as part of the class. Faculty members, staff members, and members of the community are invited and encouraged to purchase the book, read it, and participate in one of the book discussions. All are welcome to come and participate in our on-going dialogue “The Gift of Empathy: Seeing the World through the Eyes of Another.”

(Definition of empathy taken from skillsyouneed.com)

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