University of Arizona uses virtual reality for anti-racism project

Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 7:02 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The University of Arizona is using virtual reality technology as part of an anti-racism project to allow participants to “walk in someone else’s shoes.”

Dr. Bryan Carter is the director of the Center for Digital Humanities. He’s using 360-degree cameras and virtual reality headsets to re-create common experiences of discrimination.

“Being blamed for something you didn’t do or being racially profiled and followed around a grocery store or even being stopped for no reason at all by law enforcement,” Carter said.

New faculty, incoming resident assistants and student orientation groups in diversity training will participate. They’ll interact with 3-D virtual people during the on-campus scenarios.

“It really does give them a different perspective, especially when that experience is something that traumatizes other groups and has caused so much racial strife here in America,” he said.

He hopes participants will gain a better understanding and appreciation for other races.

“These behaviors and the things we’re seeing happening in Washington, politically as well as socially, that isn’t something that you just learn and switch on overnight,” Carter said.

The eye-opening experiences will be paired with readings and debriefings to ensure participants can learn from the scenarios.

“We’re hoping it will take them into their political life or that life as a CEO or whatever,” he said. “They will then remember those things when they encounter people of other ethnicities and how to deal with those cultures.”

He plans to also create positive scenarios to teach participants about the heritage of other cultures. Dr. Carter is currently in the process of creating the scenarios specific to campus and expects people to start participating in the virtual realities this fall.

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