Ed Kirwan: Empathy Week: Using the Power of Film to Build Empathy

If we help young people develop empathy throughout their educational journey, they can boost understanding, reduce bias, and nurture a culture of belonging and increased well-being. Of course, many of us adults need this, too! My guest today, Ed Kirwan, founder, and filmmaker of Empathy Week, is tackling the challenge for future generations so that maybe someday there won’t be a need for empathy books like mine because this skill will be so ingrained in our consciousness, starting from a young age.

Today, Ed talks about his journey from teacher to filmmaker and how he discovered the power of film to expand minds and activate behavior in his own classroom. Now through Empathy Week, he leverages films to develop empathy and expose students to different cultures, lifestyles, and points of view so they can better collaborate and create belonging. If you are a parent, teacher, or administrator, please look into Empathy Week for your school. Enjoy the conversation!

Key Takeaways:

  • Film gives us an excuse and a reason to reflect and talk about our past experiences and to start conversations to connect with one another.
  • Empathy is not soft or weak. It will increase productivity. It will increase retention. It will strengthen your bottom line.
  • We need to spend more time listening and asking questions. Listening is great, but unless you’re asking questions, you’re not having a conversation, and you’re not learning.

“It’s about increasing the number of experiences and the diversity of those experiences. Where films and arts can be so powerful are with low-cost, scalable actions to change perspective and build empathy.” —  Ed Kirwan

Ed Kirwan, CEO and Founder, Empathy Week

Ed Kirwan is the CEO, founder, and filmmaker at Empathy Week – an award-winning global educational event and programme using the power of film to develop the skill of empathy.

Empathy Week has so far engaged over 140,000 students across 40 countries with a mission to build the #EmpathyGeneration. Having worked with Cambridge University, Empathy Week has proven that empathy can be developed and also help increase students’ self-esteem whilst reducing othering and stereotypes.

Previously a teacher and Head of Chemistry in a North London School for 3 years, Ed also completed a Masters in Education and Leadership at UCL IOE. He then moved into a career of filmmaking and human-led storytelling.

Ed believes that in order to change the world we first have to understand the people in it. Empathy is the number one skill to develop and underpins other vitally important skills such as leadership, creativity, innovation, and teamwork. Whilst also being a catalyst for well-being and mental health, it is crucial to leading a better personal and professional life.

Connect with Ed Kirwan

Empathy Week Ltd: https://www.empathy-week.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EdKirwan

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ed-kirwan/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/empathyweek/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/empathyweek/

Check out a trailer for Empathy Week –  2023’s starts week of Feb 27!



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