Change only happens when we feel like we can make a difference.

That's why it is so important for us to understand what empowers people to feel like they can have an impact on some of today's biggest problems.

Scientists have the technical knowledge to solve problems like poverty, climate change, racism, and the COVID-19 pandemic. But even if we have the tools to solve a problem like climate change, it doesn't get done if people feel exhausted thinking about the scope of the challenge.

That is where compassion comes in. Our science demonstrates that compassion helps people  tune into social problems and energizes them to take collective action.

The Blum Center Compassion Initiative fosters empathy, understanding, and action through scientific research, education, service programs, and outreach. We are inspiring the next generation of leaders and engaging community stakeholders to use the power of compassion to solve the world's most pressing problems.


We are advancing the scientific understanding of how compassion, empathy, awe, and wonder can promote individual and societal well-being by helping ameliorate many of our most pressing social and environmental problems, from poverty and inequality, through mental and physical health, to climate change and nature loss.

Latest Research News

Small Change, Better World Featured in 2021 Brilliant Future Campaign Annual Report

The Blum Center’s Small Change, Better World program was highlighted in the 2021 Brilliant Future Campaign Annual Report. The feature piece profiles a project by Caitlin Roque that exemplifies the program’s mission to fund small but meaningful community projects that students can design and implement. Read the full story to learn how […]

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In the News: Pandemic Histories Archive Project

The UCI School of Social Ecology recent published a feature article about the Pandemic Histories Archive. Over 180 students have contributed to the archive project over the past 18 months, recording observations and experiences related to the pandemic and key social justice issues of the day. Read more about the […]

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Uncovering Insights about the Restorative Powers of the Outdoors

L.L.BEAN is funding Blum Center research on the science of awe. By Mimi Ko Cruz American outdoor brand L.L.Bean has partnered with Paul Piff, associate professor of psychological science, to research the mental, social and health benefits of experiencing awe through time spent outside. Participation in outdoor activities grew over […]

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Research Leads

Photo by Kendrick Brinson

Paul Piff (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Science at the University of California, Irvine. His primary interests are in how social hierarchy, economic inequality and social class, and social emotion shape relations between individuals and groups.

Pia Dietze Photo

Pia Dietze (Ph.D., New York University) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological Science researching how disparities in the economic conditions of the lives of different social class groups shape their social attitudes, attention, and appraisals. Her research employs a variety of cutting-edge tools, including psychophysiology, virtual reality, social media engagement, and reaction times.


Angela Robinson (Ph.D., University of California, Irvine) is a postdoctoral scholar interested in how group identities such as race and gender influence social interactions. Her research examines how group-related perceptions and attitudes shape political participation and community engagement.


We are committed to educating students about the science of compassion and how this knowledge can be applied to their lives, families, communities, and careers.

Service Programs

We help students put compassion into practice through immersive service opportunities. These programs offer students a way to address community needs and develop leadership skills.


We create educational and participation opportunities for the public to inspire more compassionate behavior and leadership in our local communities.

The Compassion Initiative in the News