Numerous episodes of conflict have highlighted the need for communities and individuals to come together for peace building and sustainable community development. Empathy is seen as key to building social cohesion amongst different groups, and a characteristic that can be developed amongst individuals. As empathy is further cultivated it can act as the catalyst for increased understanding and interconnectedness, leading to not only limiting the devastating effects of conflict, but also to positive social development, capacity building and stable, peaceful social conditions on a local as well a global scale. Interaction among people, particularly among diverse people, is identified as vital for community development. Interaction, like empathy, is a fluid term that could be stretched to include numerous and innovative ways for people and communities coming together to communicate and address social issues. This study explored ways in which both concepts can be fused together, and through an exploration and better understanding of the relationship between the two, implications to community development, peace building and conflict resolution emerge.

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 University of Galway

Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution