Copyright 2024 SPARK

The Positive Links Speaker Series, presented by Michigan Ross’ Center for Positive Organizations, offers inspiring and practical science-based strategies to build and bolster thriving organizations. Attendees learn from leading positive organizational scholars and connect with our community of academics, students, staff, and leaders. The event is free, but registration is required to obtain login information.

About the talk:
Empathy is in short supply. We struggle to understand people who aren’t like us. Studies show that we are less caring than we were even thirty years ago. In 2006, Barack Obama said that the United States was suffering from an “empathy deficit.” Since then, things seem to have only become worse—but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Join us for a virtual fireside chat with Stanford University Professor Jamil Zaki as he discusses his groundbreaking book, The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World, with host Julia Lee Cunningham. You’ll learn about Zaki’s cutting-edge research, including experiments from his lab, showing that empathy is not a fixed trait—something we’re born with or not—but rather a skill that can be strengthened through effort. Zaki will share stories of people who embody this new perspective, fighting for kindness in the most difficult of circumstances. And you will learn ways to work on and build your own empathy—the same way you’d strengthen a muscle.

About Zaki:
Jamil Zaki is a tenured associate professor of psychology at Stanford University. His research spans a number of domains, including social influence, prosocial behavior, and especially empathy (see Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory for details). He has pioneered a new perspective on empathy as a learnable skill, and much of his work focuses on training individuals, groups, and organizations to empathize more effectively.

Dr. Zaki received his BA in cognitive neuroscience from Boston University and his PhD in psychology from Columbia University and conducted postdoctoral research at the Harvard Center for Brain Science. He has published over 90 peer-reviewed articles and received research and teaching awards from the Social and Affective Neuroscience Society, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, the Society for Neuroscience, the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, Harvard University, and Stanford University. In 2019 he was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the U.S. Government’s highest honor for researchers at his career stage.

In addition to his academic work, Dr. Zaki is active in outreach and public communication of science. He has written for outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and The New Yorker. In 2019, he published his first book, The War for Kindness, which NPR called a “wide-ranging, practical guide to making the world better.”

To push yourself and connect better, put the book’s principles into practice: Kindness Challenges

Stay connected with Zaki:
Twitter profile

Julia Lee Cunningham, Faculty Co-Director, Center for Positive Organizations; Associate Professor of Management and Organizations

Series Sponsors:
The Center for Positive Organizations thanks Sanger Leadership Center, Tauber Institute for Global Operations, Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, and Diane (BA ‘73) and Paul (MBA ‘75) Jones for their support of the 2022-23 Positive Links Speaker Series.

Series Promotional Partners:
Additionally, we thank Ann Arbor SPARK and the Managerial and Organizational Cognition (MOC) Division of the Academy of Management for their Positive Links Speaker Series promotional partnerships.

Event link: