Understanding empathy in design education


  • Ricardo López-León Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes
  • Gabriela Gómez Valdez Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes


Empathy, Motivation, Design Education, Social Innovation


This paper presents the preliminary results of our research. The goal was to explore the role of empathy in design education and its importance in developing socially driven design projects that can evolve into social innovation. We used a qualitative interviewing approach with undergraduate design students in their fourth year to explore empathic experiences in both, their classroom, and their real-world design assignments. We could then observe that empathy has a better chance to be developed in an empathic environment. In other words, those students whose teachers had an empathic approach were often motivated and open to become empathetic with socially-driven design projects. In this document, we also present different perspectives to understand the concept of empathy, as an innate ability, as an ongoing process, and as a multiphase practice for social interactions, just to mention a few. With our research, we expect to show that developing empathic designers is fundamental for the design practice and eventually, for social innovation.  


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How to Cite

López-León, R., & Gómez Valdez, G. (2018). Understanding empathy in design education. IJERI: International Journal of Educational Research and Innovation, (10), 51–63. Retrieved from https://www.upo.es/revistas/index.php/IJERI/article/view/3456