Beyond Aesthetics, Empathy First

Maria Zingoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Empathy is an important trait for society in general and in the design fields. However, there is a scarce amount of literature on empirical research that examines empathy development in design education. This paper presents a case study of a Service Learning Project (SLP) that exposes students to the development of empathy by proxy in a Research I university in the south-west United States. It describes a teaching exercise that enables students to develop an empathic response through a four-week SLP within a studio course. Thirty-seven sophomore interior design students, two life specialists from the local hospital, one faculty and a liaison between the latter participated in this study over the course of two years. A mixed method strategy was used to collect data from students during two sophomore studios. The study found how faculty promoted student empathy through ‘Design, Make, Gift a Dream’ (DMGD) project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-370
Number of pages20
JournalDesign Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 4 2019


  • design
  • design education
  • empathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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