Exploring the Humanities through Virtual (and Other) Realities

December 10, 2021

This event is online


  • National Endowment for the Humanities


Old Dominion University

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Exploring the Humanities through Virtual (and other) Realities

Zoom Virtual Conference Link:


December 10, 12pm – 3:30 pm ET

Questions? Contact: [email protected]

12 pm – 1 pm: Murder on the VR Express: Thought Experiments in VR

 In this session, the Virginia Philosophy Reality Lab (VPRL) will present their work to develop VR thought experiments based on the trolley problem. It will highlight the obstacles they encountered and share how other educators can use tools developed by the VPRL to create their own thought experiments.

1:15- 2:15 pm: Panel Discussion- “Affordances and Pitfalls for Humanities in VR”

In this session, panel speakers will share their experiences exploring humanities-based questions using virtual reality (and other) technologies, considering both the problems and benefits that might arise. Each speaker will provide 10 minutes, before having an open discussion with the audience.

Dr. Saikou Diallo, Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center, Old Dominion University

Dr. James Hutson, Art History and Visual Culture, Lindenwood University

Dr. Ashley Shew, Department of Science, Technology, and Society, Virginia Tech

2:30- 3:30 pm: Keynote- “Process Philosophy & VR: The Foundations of Experiential Design” 

As Voices of VR Podcast host Kent Bye has conducted over 1600 oral history interviews since May 2014, he has been on the frontlines of innovation & experimentation with the medium of virtual reality. Moving from passive 2D media to more immersive and participatory 3D has required a shift from linear production process to more iterative, experiential design practices. Bye argues that the shift towards experiential design, embodied cognition, and contextually-aware design is reflected in a similar philosophical shift from substance metaphysics to process-relational metaphysics as described by Alfred North Whitehead's Process Philosophy, Epperson & Zafiris' Relational Realist Quantum Ontology, and Kastner's Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Whitehead's mereological approach of whole & parts also helps emphasize contextual dimensions that are normally collapsed through the lens of reductive materialism. This talk will provide a tour through some foundational philosophical concepts that have helped Bye form a series of sensemaking frameworks that includes a pluralistic synthesis of Process Philosophy, Feminist Philosophy, Indigenous Philosophy, Chinese Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, Media Theory, as well as modern neuroscience.

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December 10, 2021, 12:00pm EST

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