The Empathy Lab is a partnership between the Columbia University School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab, Refinery29 and you.

The Lab examines and accelerates the role of empathy across a wide range of disciplines, including: policy, education, media, design, technology and healthcare.

By bringing together changemakers with scale partners, we’re exploring a new model of partnership. Its purpose? To ask big questions, prototype our way to possible solutions, and share resources and tools to support social impact, worldwide.

Together we can create impact at scale.

Help us build an Empathy Bomb

We’re assembling an empathy bomb that is designed to accelerate compassion and understanding. The following is our blueprint…


Bring together diverse groups of people to understand the collective challenges the world is facing.


Work together to assemble the tools we need to create the change we seek in the world. 


Identify locations and spaces that possess the greatest need, presenting the most opportunity for impact.


Bring together communities of committed people to collectively power the effort.


Coordinate our efforts globally around a shared moment of action when we will detonate the Empathy Bomb.


Ensure the after-effects of the Empathy Bomb reverberate through time and space, as well as measure and share the results.

Our Mission


To examine and accelerate the role of empathy across a wide range of disciplines, including: policy, education, media, design, technology and healthcare


To explore synergies in funding, impact, and scale between brands and social innovation initiatives – to devise a new way to measure engagement and impact, and create a model of Purpose-Driven Partnership


To recognize and deploy empathy as an essential factor in designing and sharing a culture that promotes understanding, both within organizations and in the world at large

Meet the 2017 Empathy Lab Cohort

The Empathy Lab’s design was modeled on that of a tech “accelerator” – an organization that assembles a group of promising founders (a cohort) and connects them to the necessary resources to scale their ideas. Accelerators and their cohorts typically coalesce around a theme that connects all of the various initiatives together. In this case, that theme is empathy, and our target audience is all of humanity.

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  • Afrofuturist Writer's Room
  • Lyka's Adventure
  • Performing Statistics
  • Empathetic Coding
  • The Patient Revolution
  • Re-Public Media

Empathy Lab on Medium

Check out our collection of articles and reflections that share our progress as we design, build, activate, place, detonate and measure the fallout from an Empathy Bomb in 2017.

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We’ll share news on our progress, tools, resources and plenty of inspiration.

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“Make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or disadvantage of anyone.”


– Buckminster Fuller