Empathy & Design

Headshot of smiling woman with red hair in grey topBy Julia Smeed, Innovation Hub Project Lead

In order to realize the Innovation Hub vision to create a seamless student experience for at the University of Toronto, we must gain a deeper understanding about the current student experience.  One way that we might approach this is using human-centred design, a creative problem solving approach using inspiration, ideation and implementation.  This approach will help us to empathize with students to best understand their experiences.

Brene Brown explains the difference between empathy and sympathy in the video below, highlighting that “empathy drives connection”:

What might we achieve for University of Toronto students if we always took an empathetic approach towards understanding the student experience?

In their article, Empathy on the Edge, IDEO experts Katja Battarbee, Jane Fulton Suri and Suzanne Gibbs Howard explain how they are using empathy based research techniques to better understand complex issues their customers face and uncover insights for innovation.  Their designers go to great lengths to put themselves in others’ shoes (like the chest waxing experience on page 5 – ouch!) so that they can understand challenges intimately and approach design from the standpoint of having had a lived experience that was similar to the experience of their customers.

The Innovation Hub will take a human-centred, empathy-based approach to uncovering insights for innovation!

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