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Building Global Empathy in Innovageous Schools

Global empathy encourages us to recognize and appreciate the diverse perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds of people around the world. By understanding and empathizing with others' experiences, we develop a deeper respect for cultural differences and similarities. Empathetic individuals are more likely to become compassionate and inclusive leaders who prioritize the wellbeing and rights of others. 

Global empathy requires students and educators alike to critically analyze complex issues from multiple perspectives and consider the impact of their actions on others, both locally and globally. A tool we often use to strengthen these muscles is engaging in project-based service-learning. Through service-learning experiences, we engage in real-world learning and are usually exposed to people who are different from ourselves as we contribute to diverse communities. This fosters critical thinking skills and encourages the development of informed, empathetic decision-makers. 

We know that empathetic individuals are better able to communicate effectively across cultural and linguistic boundaries. Members of our Innovageous team have spent time exploring, living, and learning abroad in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, experiencing different cultures to gain the perspective of living somewhere new. We also spent time at schools learning more about their education systems, both in their strengths and challenges, as well as their cultural traditions. Through developing these skills, we enhance our ability to navigate diverse cultural contexts, build meaningful relationships, and collaborate with people from different backgrounds.

In an increasingly interconnected world, global competence is essential for active and responsible citizenship. Building global empathy helps us develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to engage with diverse communities and address global challenges collaboratively. Many of the most pressing issues facing humanity today, such as climate change, poverty, and conflict, require collaborative and empathetic responses on a global scale. By fostering global empathy, Innovageous Schools empower students to become active agents of positive change in addressing these challenges and educators to nurture the next generation of leaders who are committed to promoting social justice, equity, and human rights on a global scale.

Below are some examples of ways that schools and organizations we partner with are currently building global empathy:

  • In response to the diverse backgrounds and needs of teachers, our team created a framework for empathetic listening that included tools for school leaders. We engaged leaders in professional learning sessions to engage with the tools, practice listening strategies, and lead with empathy in their work to authentically and empathetically listen to their teachers.

  • At Juniata Park Academy, educators are working to build a more inclusive classroom for their diverse learners. In response to the global needs of their community, school and teacher leaders are building their skill set in providing strength-based communication, empathetic listening, and addressing negativity bias in order to build a school community that promotes psychological safety and a sense of belonging for all students and staff. 

  • In order to create an inclusive environment for adults at Pan American Academy Charter School, Innovageous has been working alongside bi-lingual leaders to translate print resources for native Spanish speakers. As a dual language school, Pan Am recruits and hires educators from a variety of Spanish backgrounds and fosters an adult environment that promotes empathy across their diverse educators. 

  • We supported our partners at International Teacher’s Project to build a scope and sequence for their program that highlights not only what international educators need to be successful in coming to work in the United States, but what the receiving schools should know and do to both prepare themselves to support the new educator and leverage the asset of having an international perspective at their disposal. 

  • To foster global empathy in their school, our partners at Lincoln High School host an annual celebration known as Culture Fest to showcase the 51+ countries represented in their school community. This festival provides an opportunity for students to engage in self discovery, while deepening their understanding around the cultures of their peers. 

  • Families in Action recognized the need to provide parents and guardians with tools to advocate for themselves and their children. Our team collaborated with FIA to identify tools that families would benefit from, and created a bi-lingual series of tools that included flow charts, checklists, timelines, and questions to ask of their child’s school/teacher. Additionally, schools received an introduction to the tools as a supplemental tool aimed at their understanding on how to partner with diverse families

  • We partner with the National Youth Leadership Council to develop and implement professional learning sessions for teacher education programs on how to integrate the teaching strategy of service-learning into their programming. By engaging in  learning through this project-based approach, learners build an understanding of global perspective and demonstrate empathy for global issues through various forms of service. 

  • Our work with Baystate Academy Charter engaged teachers and leaders in building cultural understanding and responsive practices across the school. Through professional learning, leader learning walks, and activity planning, the school implemented communication and engagement strategies to reach the diverse backgrounds of families. Multi-language communications, family engagement events, and school-wide activities promoted individual student culture sharing and a deeper understanding of the diverse stakeholders in their community. 

  • At Tacony Academy Charter School, leaders and staff are engaging in data-driven professional learning to increase culturally responsive and equitable practices throughout their school. Grounded in data from their comprehensive school-wide equity study, professional development aims to increase cultural awareness and understanding in order to ensure high-quality instruction and equity for all K-12 students.

Global empathy is a lifelong journey of learning and growth that extends beyond the classroom. By instilling a commitment to empathy and understanding in students, Innovageous Schools prepare young people to navigate an increasingly complex and interconnected world with compassion, resilience and adaptability.

One approach that you can use today to foster global empathy in your community is culture sharing. Register for our session on Sharing Culture to Build Global Empathy to build your own cultural awareness and get your wheels turning around this Innovageous School Design Principle. This session is facilitated by Innovageous Lead Partner of Community Engagement, Tiffany Searles, in collaboration with Victor Capellan, President & Founder of International Teacher’s Project. This is a great place to start thinking about practical strategies for building Global Empathy in your school or organization. 

Want to be a part of this acceleration and growth? Here are some ways that you can join our ecosystem of partners: 

  1. Funding - Support the development of free resources and tools to broaden our reach and access to anyone who wants to make their school community more innovageous! 

  2. Focus Groups & Committees - We are seeking industry partners in education and/or professional workspaces who want to provide input to the development of resources and tools. 

  3. Partnership - Work in partnership with us to help increase equitable access to Innovageous tools and resources. Your support through ongoing collaboration and partnership helps sustain our work, and expand our reach.

To learn even more about Innovageous School Design or to get involved, schedule a time to chat with us at


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