Lindsey Spindle

Closing The Empathy Gap

The Institute’s Executive Director Stephen Smith joined some of the world’s greatest thinkers, innovators and leaders at last year’s Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University. The theme for the 2018 Skoll World Forum was “The Power of Proximity” and USC Shoah Foundation’s presentation focused on ways in which technology and story could work in tandem to bring people closer together around solving the world’s most pressing problems.

Lindsey Spindle, President of the Jeff Skoll Group and a member of the Institute’s Next General Council, suggested we reach out to the team at the Skoll World Forum about our Dimensions in Testimony (DiT) program, given the obvious connection to theme of proximity. Now available in select museums, DiT is an interactive biography that enables people to ask questions of survivors and receive an appropriate reply from a selection of more than a thousand pre-recorded answers. The DiT program successfully brings Holocaust survivor testimony to communities and individuals that may never have the opportunity to experience it otherwise. Smith demonstrated the power of DiT at the 2018 Skoll World Forum in a session called “Virtual Reality: Closing the Empathy Gap?”

“Holocaust survivors are dwindling in numbers, but their stories have never been as important as they are now. Dimensions in Testimony combines cutting edge technology and survivors’ unending generosity of spirit to create a truly immersive experience for many generations to come. Once you have your ‘conversation’ with a Holocaust survivor, it imprints their experience into your brain in an indelible way. It makes you rethink the world around you, and creates a deeply human experience that moves head and heart simultaneously. I hope many more museums and cultural institutions will consider investing in Dimensions in Testimony program.”