Stanford University

Examining Racism with Virtual Reality

With funding from the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, we are using the medium of VR to examine racism. In collaboration with Dr. Courtney Cogburn from Columbia University, we have created 1000 Cut Journey, an immersive virtual reality experience that allows you to walk in the shoes of Michael Sterling, a Black male, and encounter racism first-hand, as a young child, an adolescent, and a young adult. Understanding the social realities of racism is critical to promoting effective and collective social action. This project builds on Dr. Cogburn's research and previous VHIL studies in which we have examined how virtual reality can induce empathy for people different from oneself.

As the project continues, we are examining the effects of this immersive virtual experience on changes in psychological processes, including empathy/social perspective taking, racial bias, and decision making. We are also building the architecture for wide-scale distribution within a number of organizations, as well as making technological adjustments to allow us to distribute the experience across multiple hardware and software platforms.

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