In this collaboration between CIMS and the Oncology Department of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, students will use virtual reality to tell stories of patients’ experiences with Proton Therapy. The VR films will then be available for future Proton Therapy candidates and others who want to understand the experience. This course mixes virtual reality theory, history, and practice. We will read a wide range of scholarship, manifestoes, and memoirs that examine virtual reality and other immersive technologies, stretching from the 18th century to today. We will explore virtual reality projects, including narrative and documentary films, commercial applications, and games. We will work with many different virtual reality systems. And we will learn the basics of creating virtual reality, making fully immersive 3-D, 360-degree films with geospatial soundscapes. Finally, we will take what we have learned out of the classroom, working with the Hospital to create virtual reality experiences based around patient stories. No previous knowledge of VR or experience is necessary. However, this is a course limited to a max of 12 students and subjected to CIMS Dept. restriction to be enrolled in. Student must submit a short paragraph to Prof. Decherney and explain why they wish to take the course.
In previous iterations of this course, we have worked with refugee resettlement agencies, the Penn Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Students work collaboratively with Philadelphia organizations to understand the challenges they face in working with the local communities and the public. We then collaborate to create impactful virtual reality films. Previous films have told the story of an Iraqi refugee working as a guide at the Penn Museum and the experience of a refugee couple from Myanmar operating a food truck. We have also worked with curators from Philadelphia Museum of Art to create VR stories about objects in their collections. In every case, these are projects that seek to amplify the stories and voices of the partners in an emerging and increasingly important format: the metaverse.
For many students, VR Lab won’t end at the end of the semester. Students in this course and SNF Paideia Fellows will have priority when applying to work as fully-funded fellows of the summer VR Lab in Kenya and Ethiopia. In a project that has been developing since 2017, in Kenya students partner with students who live in the Kakuma Refugee Camp and attend the FilmAid Kenya film training program. Together, the refugees who are students in the FilmAid Kenya program and Penn students create virtual reality and other film projects that are used by the United Nations, the World Food Program, and other organizations to promote information about the camp and the refugee experience in East Africa. Since 2017, Penn student and the FilmAid students have continued to collaborate throughout the Penn FilmAid Kenya club, also known as Urafiki (or friend in Swahili).
- ENGL 20th 21st Century Literature (AE21)
- ENGL 20th Century Literature (AE20)
- NU Sector Arts and Letters (NUAL)