PECS #45: Empathy: using cognition to enhance collaboration for sustainability with Lauren Lambert

Abstract:
Effective collaboration and cooperation across difference are at the heart of present and future sustainability challenges and solutions.  Collaboration among social groups (intragenerational), across time (intergenerational), and across species (interspecies) is each central to achieving sustainability transitions in the 21st century.  In practice, there are three types of differences that limit collaboration and cooperation toward sustainability outcomes: differences among social groups, differences across time, and differences across species.  Each of these differences have corresponding cognitive biases that challenge collaboration.  Social cognitive biases challenge collaboration among social groups; temporal cognitive biases challenge collaboration across time; and anthropocentric cognitive biases challenge collaboration across species.  In this work, I present three correctives to collaboration challenges spanning the social, temporal, and species cognitive biases through intervention-specific methods that build beyond traditional framings of empathy, toward social, futures, and ecological empathy.  By re-theorizing empathy across these domains, I seek to construct a multidimensional theory of empathy for sustainability, and suggest methods to build it, to bridge differences among people, time horizons, and species for sustainability practice.  

Bio:
Lauren Lambert, Ph.D. is a research fellow at the Konrad Lorenz Institute where she is presently working to build out her theoretical and practical empathy model for sustainability. She has over 15 years of experience in global risk assessment, sustainability, responsible innovation, organizational development and governance. As a futurist and social scientist, she specializes in designing appropriate learning environments that foster meaningful sustainability transformations in organizations, governments and on small teams. Her work over the last decade includes working with the World Resources Institute, International Tropical Timber Organization, National Institutes of Health, National Academies of Sciences, Arizona State University, School for the Future of Innovation & Society, and the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Cognition and Learning, alongside multiple local and regionally based community sustainability and policy research initiatives across the globe.