Dr. Gokcigdem is a thought leader, historian of Islamic art, and a museum scholar who is committed to creating fertile grounds of empathy through informal learning platforms to inspire positive behavior change, caring mindsets, and compassionate worldviews that value all of humanity and the planet. She is the author and editor of two visionary books on the subject of empathy-building: Fostering Empathy Through Museums (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), and Designing for Empathy: Perspectives on the Museum Experience (forthcoming, Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). Fostering Empathy Through Museums has been recognized as a reference book by the American Alliance of Museums’ (AAM) TrendsWatch 2017. She is a contributing author to the AAM’s Museums in a Global Context: National Identity, International Understanding (2013). Dr. Gokcigdem is also the co-chair, and the lead creative coordinator and experience designer of the world’s first Summit on “Fostering Universal Ethics and Compassion Through Museums” with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, which is scheduled to take place in October 2018.
Dr. Gokcigdem has presented in several international conferences including the European Science Foundation (ESF) Conference, Science and Nonduality Conference (SAND), the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) Annual Conference, World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (WSIE), and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Annual Meeting. She is a Fellow at the WSIE – World Innovation Organization (WIO), and an Advisor to the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Center for Empathy and Visual Arts (CEVA).
She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History from the Istanbul Technical University with a specialization on medieval Islamic arts, and completed her Museum Studies graduate certification program at The George Washington University through a scholarship from TEV – Turkish Education Foundation. She was a curatorial research assistant in the Islamic Arts Department of the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer and Sackler Galleries, and has served in advisory roles in the museum community as a member of the AAM National Program Advisory Committee, The George Washington University Museum and Textile Museum Advisory Council, and Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES).