The Creative Media For Social Change

The Empathy Lab


The Creative Media For Social Change


2021 | 2022


User research | strategy | concept | UX design | UI and visual design | project lead


Alan Ayoubi | Tudor Cora | Elif Kuvanlık | Xabyne van Veen
How te create space freedom of speech and expression, so students feel acknowledged?
As our society becomes more diverse, addressing inclusion becomes more eloquent. However, awareness is lacking at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences as communities aren’t adequately represented. This makes students feel uncomfortable sharing their stories and emotions.
Diversity and inclusion are sensitive matters, making them difficult to approach. Individual and collective awareness is essential to foster social inclusion and diversity progression. Vulnerability and politically correct speech influence how students approach this topic.
Photo Empathy Lab
"Even though I'm open-minded, I'm not comfortable openly sharing my experiences.

Examining the context

Understanding students’ behaviour when it comes to creating awareness is perhaps the most valuable way to approach this context. This led us to develop inquiry research which provided us with surprising insights - students don’t interact with a probe to which they can openly share and visualize their experiences. A new challenge arose: "How to create awareness when students are hesitant to start conversations?"
During interviews with partners of AUAS and students from the Benno Premselahuis, we learned they consider each other open-minded. However, students feel very divided within the building, creating social distance. They strongly expressed their opinion of how plain the building looks and that this is at their expense to engage with others.
Photo research Empathy LabPhoto research Empathy LabPhoto research Empathy Lab
"The building's atmosphere discourages interaction with others.

Social gathering

We concentrated on tackling the underlying issue and created it as our starting point: unifying students in a bright and comfortable environment, the Empathy Lab. Since empathy is significant in building engagement, we joined an empathy workshop which taught us how to increase empathy.
Photo Empathy Lab
Photo Empathy Lab
Photo Empathy Lab
"An engaging conversation about a delicate topic needs to start with recognition.

Recognition at the center

We prioritized recognition to ensure engagement. Students face insecurities and hesitations in talking about their own experiences. Therefore, we don’t want to make them feel obligated to share their stories which lowered the participation threshold. Students can feel more inclined to open up about their thoughts by finding recognition.
Students can read and listen to stories from fellow students by the digital recognition wall in the room. To enable students to (anonymously) share their stories within the room, we direct them to a separate website where they can write their stories whenever and wherever they feel comfortable.
Photo Empathy Lab
Photo Empathy Lab
"I prefer solo engagement, whereas others prefer a playful collaborative approach.

Diverse approach to collective awareness

We developed four approaches to raise awareness to gather the interest of the majority of students. Each way represents a different way of learning: listening to stories by the interactive recognition wall, reading about stories, and exploring stories by engaging in empathy games and storytelling to feel more accepted. This empowers all students to feel included in the solution.
Photo Empathy Lab
Photo Empathy Lab
Photo posters Empathy Lab
This project was developed in collaboration with The Creative Media For Social Change as part of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences' Master Digital Design.