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Empathic Action for Delivering the Good Life

A sample of MCAD's Sustainable Design Creative Leadership course


Sustainable Brands has embarked on a three-year journey to understand what “The Good Life” means to people today, to raise this conversation around the globe, and to find, share and celebrate brands that are innovating on this new collective vision.  The theme for the third year of this journey is Delivering The Good Life.

Sustainable Brands has discovered that today’s version of “The Good Life” appears to be shifting; less focus on money and status, and more towards a pursuit of a simpler, balanced life that is rich with connections to people, community, and environment.  

SB’19 Detroit will help brands and organizations map their way forward to a sustainable future by equipping product and service innovation teams to Deliver The Good Life, engaging marketing/communications teams to support Good Life values, and evolving supplier relationships with principles of The Good Life.

Sustainable Brands has partnered with MCAD’s Master of Arts in Sustainable Design Program to create a set of mini-courses to help empower and equip you for Delivering The Good Life.


How might we—leaders of brands, as well as their consumers—shift our focus from seeking money and status to seeking a simpler, balanced life that is rich with connections to people, community, and environment?

One key to enabling this shift is empathy.

Empathy is the ability to imagine yourself in someone else's shoes (cognitive empathy) and to feel what someone else is feeling (affective empathy). When these two forms of empathy come together, there is only one force on this entire planet stronger than empathy, and that’s love.

When you are able to empathize with other people, you recognize that we are connected, that we share a common humanity, and that we are all inherently worthy as human beings.

If we want to engage in a life that is rich with connections to people, community, and environment—The Good Life—we must be able to practice empathy.

In this mini-course, you will have a chance to explore the idea of empathy and why it’s important for Delivering the Good Life. You will leave with tools you can use to practice empathic action.


  • You will learn about empathy and reflect on how it can be leveraged to Deliver The Good Life.
  • You will explore and reflect on how empathy and new kinds of leadership are necessary to Deliver The Good Life.
  • You will identify actions you can take to use empathy and alternative leadership models to Deliver The Good Life.
  • You will learn 3 tools you can use to develop and practice the empathy you need to Deliver The Good Life.


This mini-course contains two videos and two readings followed by “Questions for reflection” and “Taking action: How might you use what you learn?”  The questions and actions will help you embed what you’ve learned as well as make it personally real and relevant. At the end of the course you’ll find a “TRY THIS” section with 3 tools you can use to help you practice what you’ve learned.

The activities are intended to be done in the order presented. There are no grades or credits for the course -- and no pressure!  This course is designed for your personal and professional development, and to help you Deliver the Good Life.

If you’re interested in digging deeper or are seeking credit, please contact Denise DeLuca, Director of MCAD’s MA in Sustainable Design program.


Anita Nowak
Adjunct Faculty, MCAD’s Master of Arts in Sustainable Design program
Empathy Expert, Author and Speaker, Social Impact Coach

Nowak holds a doctoral degree from McGill University where she was named Professor of the Year in 2015 and 2019. She’s held a variety of leadership and advisory roles within the private and non-profit sectors and has served as a volunteer for many social purpose organizations over the past 15 years both locally and internationally. Nowak is based in Montreal.

Nowak in a Few Words:

  • Subject matter expert on empathy and social impact.
  • Emotionally intelligent leader and industrious team player.
  • Successful co-creator of innovative programs and initiatives.
  • Natural-born connector of like-spirited people and forger of meaningful partnerships for impact.
  • Earnest champion of people’s goals and dreams and the achievement of their potential.
  • Outstanding communicator and integrative thinker who values integrity and inclusivity.
  • Visionary educator committed to sustainability and social justice.

Dive into the course materials