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Compassion: Learning and Doing

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image of Journal of Empirical Theology

The Compassion Project was developed at parochial schools in Germany in response to the observed loss of solidarity in our society. Through social practicums, students taking part in the project have opportunities to encounter people who are reliant on the help of others in kindergartens, hospitals, workshops for the disabled, nursing homes and so on. In these encounters, pro-social attitudes such as helpfulness, communication, cooperation and solidarity are encouraged. Within the theoretical framework explicitly set out and discussed in the article, an action-research based study design was developed. Participatory observation was used as the method for gathering data, and grounded theory was used for data analysis, with the aim of providing answers to the following question: Can the Compassion Project that has been piloted above all for high school (Gymnasium) students at Roman Catholic schools in Germany, and in particular the practical portion consisting of a social practicum, be implemented under empirically controlled conditions at a state middle school? If so, what adaptations need to be made to adapt the project to this population, and how can the insights gained from this research be applied to further developing the project? The article presents a selection of results from the study, along with evaluation and perspectives for further study and reflection.


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