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Virtual Reality in Education, Policy and Blue Economies 

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Virtual reality (VR) communicates the fragility of the Arctic in a way that shifts the conversation about climate change away from environmental doomism towards the beauty of all there is still left to save 


The consequences of climate change, specifically as it relates to sea ice loss and broader oceanic changes, stretch globally across the world. Yet, for most people, the Arctic is a number, diagram or chart depicting temperature, time, and loss—the negative space framing—but it is very difficult to feel an emotional connection to something abstract, global, and already gone. 


VR offers a singularly unique (carbon free) opportunity to travel to places most people will never get the chance to experience directly. As a medium, VR  offers an immersive portrait of climate/change that is experienced as place—rather than explained through a lens of process, temperature, or time. ‘Place’, which phenomenologist Edward Cassy argues has been subordinated historically to notions of time, being, and space, is not often used as a framework for climate science communication. By centering audiences inside the story, inside the environment, VR gives people the opportunity to connect their own perceptual observations of place to questions that lead back to the big picture of climate change. 

VR supports teachers and students in classrooms, labs and workshops and makes STEAM more inclusive

Teachers can bring fieldwork back to students who for physical, financial or familial reasons are unable to participate in fieldwork. VR is an immersive and interactive tool for teachers in K-12 classes and provides important context for the lesson. 

VR reaches new sectors of the public and engages non-science seeking audiences

As a distribution channel, VR by-passes cultural gatekeeping that prevents stories from reaching broad audiences. The reality is that if someone is not actively searching for reliable science content, then it is not accidentally finding them. VR reaches a sector of the public searching for, quite simply, cool VR experiences. VR is at a developmental stage where the echo chambers of established media platforms have not yet fully formed. This creates opportunities to get reliable science content to new audiences, audiences who are chancing upon climate change documentaries via a search for epic VR experiences.




VR creates a shared experiences that facilities more productive dialogue 

Anchoring potentially contentious or difficult conversations in a shared experience creates a common reference frame from which everyone can share their own perspective. It primes people to listen, observe and ask questions, and reduces the likelihood that the conversation will get derailed. 


VR provides necessary context for decision making 

Out of site out of mind is not the best context for decision-making or problem solving. VR provides an immediacy and visceral visual rhetoric that reestablishes the connection between data and environment, people and place, and topic  

and context. 





VR is a strategy for building partnerships

VR is a strategic way connect people and build cross-industry and disciplinary partnerships. When a viewer is centered in the story, rather than watching at a distance, it becomes their experience instead of the experience of the person who wanted to show them something. 


VR is a powerful way to pitch to funders 

If new instruments expand the scope of human perception to allow us to measure things we can't directly perceive, it also expands the spectrum of stories we are able to tell and ideas we can share. Communicating a vision is harder than selling it. VR communicates scale (temporal and spatial), proximity, relation and movement in a way that no other medium can. Show don’t tell takes on a new meaning. 

Amy Lauren

Copyright. All rights reserved.

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