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Your Name and Title:

Timothy Walters, MA, MPhil

School or Organization Name:

Education Consultant

Co-Presenter Name(s):

Area of the World from Which You Will Present:


Language in Which You Will Present:


Target Audience(s):

Administrators, Teachers, Parents

Short Session Description (one line):

A case study of empathy education with Cambodian high school & undergraduate students: Putting emerging understandings in empirical moral psychology into practice

Full Session Description (as long as you would like):

The objective of my presentation is to share my experiences working with Cambodian students, while resident in Phnom Penh from 2008 - 2011, and to initiate a conversation on new possibilities for empathy and "character" education.

I will describe the challenges and opportunities associated with addressing the real world problem of the growing number of young Cambodians who are un/misinformed regarding their country's experience of genocide from1975-9, including the growing incidence of outright denial.  My work over this period was directed towards developing both the skill of cognitive empathy (understanding of the Other) and predisposition towards empathic caring.  Along with colleagues, I employed a variety of "moral life narrative" resources in order to extend understandings and / or deepen empathy for those assuming different roles over this period, whether victims, perpetrators, rescuers or bystanders.

Given the particularities of our students and their backgrounds, our approach was to use the most vivid, visual and accessible narrative resources available, with an emphasis on film and graphic novel accounts.   Our exchanges were frank, meaningful and, I believe, resulted in development of enduring understandings amongst participants.  Though the project drew on historical stimuli, my objective moving forward (both in the field and with the PhD research associated with these efforts) is to develop pedagogical frameworks for empathy education, which are generalizable beyond this specific context. 

The choice of moral life narrative (stories) as a foundation for my approach is informed by extensive research in the social / cognitive sciences.  The method is based on the remarkable shift  – or, more accurately, waves of reinforcing shifts in empirical moral psychology and associated knowledge domains.   These emerging understandings, sometimes collectively referred to as an "affective revolution", have already produced profound changes in other areas, such as (behavioral) economics.  I am interested in how these new (affective & social) cognitive models provide a compelling basis for fresh approaches to empathy education and the nurturing of understanding across previously disparate or hostile groups.

I am happy to (de)emphasize any of the areas below according to the interests of participants, however,  the three areas I think are of greatest potential interest in the context of GLOBALEDCON are:

[1] The methods, experiences & outcomes of our empathy/historical education programme in Cambodia

[2] The implications and possibilities for the transfer of these experiences & insights into different educational contexts, particularly in postconflict societies. 

[3] Assessing a new cognitive model supporting a moral life narrative approach and its implications for the development of other desirable or prosocial qualities, such as "grit" or resilience

Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:


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Hi Timothy -

If you check out our mission statement, you'll notice that we're about connecting classrooms and education for all: http://www.globaleducationconference.com/notes/The_GEC_Mission_Stat.... We're not a conference focused on general education topics. Can you elaborate in your proposal on how your ideas relate to our mission? To edit your proposal, use the OPTIONS proposal. If your proposal does not fit with our mission, there are other events hosted by Steve Hargadon that might be a better fit: http://www.stevehargadon.com/


Lucy Gray, Co-Chair 


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