“Editor’s Outro: Reflecting on the Continued Need for Empathy as Students, Researchers, Teachers, and Human Beings as We Look Ahead to a Post-Pandemic Future”



We are grateful for each of the contributors of Blog Carnival 18. Thank you for devoting time and energy towards this project during our continued pandemic living. In the CFP for this blog carnival, we invited contributors to reflect on how they saw themselves practicing empathy in their roles as students, researchers, and/or teachers during our sustained experience of academia in Covid times. The entries represent a range of responses to the pandemic and how to show empathy for self and for others in unprecedented times. 

There are many intersecting overlaps across these contributions. Here, we highlight a couple of themes spanning Blog Carnival 18.

Theorizing Empathy

Some contributors share about the importance of theories of empathy. Daymon Kiliman attests that leading with empathy is an activist project. He places classical rhetoric in conversation with feminist and antiracist rhetoric in order to show why educators need to teach from a position of empathy. Andrew Appleton Pine considers the complicated notions of “empathy” throughout time and its intermixing with the “fog of digital rhetoric.” Theories of empathy continue to be expanded upon as scholars reflect on the lived experiences of Covid times.

Teaching through a lens of Empathy

As a teacher before and during Covid-19, Lance Cummings explains how he incorporates empathy into his teaching through a model of design thinking that focuses students on a detailed envisioning of the positionalities of themselves and of others. Gaines Hubbell and Ryan Brown reflect on the value of vulnerability to creating an empathetic atmosphere in virtual classrooms. Kathleen Turner Ledgerwood focuses on building an environment of empathy collaboratively with first year writing students. These scholars offer insight into how instructors can adapt to a variety of virtual learning environments while centering students through a lens of empathetic pedagogical practices. 

Enacting Practical Empathy

Lastly, some contributors call for actionable and practical empathy not only for students but also for teachers and scholars further along in academia. Rachel Dortin demonstrates how compassion fatigue sets in as pandemic living wears on, and calls for an active and rhetorical empathy that uplifts others who’ve experienced different challenges during the pandemic. Alex Hanson calls for attention to the struggles of single moms in academia amidst Covid-19 and the need for practical and actionable empathy towards all single parents during this incredibly challenging time. Empathy must be demonstrated through actions and can be as seemingly simple as checking in on one another, listening to one another, and offering a helping hand when possible.


As we reflect on what we have learned from these contributors, we cannot help but echo what the contributor’s have called for: a wide-ranging empathy that is active and that accounts for varying experiences amidst an unprecedented time. At the end of the day, we are all humans, struggling through uncharted waters, wishing for patience and understanding from each other as we continue to navigate challenges as students, researchers, and teachers. We invite readers to share their own reactions through our Facebook and Twitter pages, or through the comments on individual blog posts. We look forward to continuing this important conversation surrounding the need for empathy, and we hope that you are encouraged by reading these blog posts. 

About Author

Danielle Koepke

Danielle Koepke is a second year PhD student in Public Rhetorics and Community Engagement at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has an MA in Rhetoric and Composition, and her academic interests include multimodal composing practices, digital literacies, and feminist theories.

Jianfen Chen

Jianfen Chen is a PhD student in Rhetoric and Composition at Purdue. Her research interests include public rhetoric, digital rhetoric, risk communication, intercultural communication, and professional and technical communication.

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