Our Valentine’s Gift to You: Love + Empathy

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Glasscock School is offering a fresh look at the complex subjects of love and empathy. Dr. Michael Winters will teach two courses that explore these intertwined subjects.

Feb 12 , 2016

Image shows a portion of the Rice University campus amid blooming flower beds.Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Glasscock School is offering a fresh look at the complex subjects of love and empathy. Dr. Michael Winters will teach two courses that explore these intertwined subjects: “The Psychology of Love” and “Understanding Empathy: Cultivating Connection in Love and Life.”

“If you ask most people, love is one of the most important things in life. Feeling loved and loving others makes life worthwhile, and without love, life would feel drab and meaningless,” says Dr. Winters. “But love feels out of our control – ‘How do I manage the love I get and receive?’  No simple task – the poets have lamented the lack of control for many generations.  Science is fairly new to the study of love, and it can be ‘too clinical’ to perceive of love only through a scientific lens,” he says.

“However, learning about love from multiple perspectives can grow awareness and access more ways to give love away.  And maybe, just maybe, receive more love in exchange.” 

LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana in Midtown, New York.Dr. Winters explains that empathy – the ability to enter another’s emotional world and understand the others feelings as experienced – is a fairly new concept in the history of ideas (at least in Europe and the Americas), but is generating much interest in both philosophical and psychological areas of study. The course “Understanding Empathy: Cultivating Connection in Love and Life” will focus on both the development of empathy awareness and the scientific and philosophical study of empathy.

“The practical component of the course will focus on developing skills for greater empathy,” he says, “while the lecture component of the course will focus on defining empathy, exploring various models for understanding empathy and looking at how the future of the world may depend on the development of greater empathy amongst human beings.”

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Glasscock School! We hope to see you on campus soon.

Image above: LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana in Midtown, New York.

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