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Symposium: Empathy, Intimacy and Technology

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St. Paul’s School Symposium: 
“Empathy, Intimacy, and Technology in a Boarding School Environment”
June 20, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. – More than 140 school administrators and educators from across the United States convened at St. Paul’s School to discuss the impact of technology on the emotional health and development of youth during a three-day symposium titled, “Empathy, Intimacy, and Technology in a Boarding School Environment,” June 15-17.

Participants came from 50 different schools across the academic spectrum, including public, independent, boarding, and single-sex secondary and middle schools, as well as higher education, to form recommendations on best practices to foster healthy interpersonal relationships among students, as well as adults, within school communities, and create ways to decipher the real-time and digital identities of youth.

The symposium opened with presentations by leading experts in the fields of youth, technology, and their intersection: Sherry Turkle, the founder and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self; danah boyd, principal researcher at Microsoft Research and an academic scholar with a focus on relationship of technology and society; Donna Freitas, non-resident research associate at the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame; and Catherine Steiner-Adair, a research associate in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an associate psychologist at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. Columbia University sociologist and St. Paul’s School alumnus Shamus Khan moderated the panel.

Symposium attendees spent the subsequent two days in working groups discussing the issues in-depth in areas such as academic curriculum, counseling and student support, inclusivity and identity, policy and procedure, prevention and intervention, school-parent relationships and collaboration, and school culture.

St. Paul’s School has received a grant from The Edward E. Ford Foundation to underwrite the publication of the findings, and the final product will be available for peer institutions.