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Kopper’s New funded project will use interior architecture and VR walkthroughs to raise social justice awareness

A new grant from the UNCG Community-Engaged Pathways and Partnerships (P2): A Collective Scholarship Fellows Program was awarded to Interior Architecture Professor Asha Kutty, in collaboration with UNCG CS Professor Regis Kopper, to develop virtual spaces that will recreate interior spaces and exhibitions that convey the context and story of Eugene Hairston, a Guilford County lynch victim, in various ways. The project will exist within the context of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The memorial was conceived with the hope of creating a sober, meaningful site where people could gather and reflect on America’s history of racial inequality. Digital monuments will be created to memorialize and raise social justice awareness of hideous acts of the past. Research across several disciplines has demonstrated that immersive media can increase empathy, which is a prerequisite to social justice activism and healing. In this regard, VR technology can be used as an effective tool not only to critique structural racism and document social injustices through the students’ designs, but to also foster the kinds of empathy, compassion, and solidarity necessary to facilitate positive social change.