Rhone Glacier: Virtual Reality & sensory exploration

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The collaborative research of Associate Professor Betsy Byers and Emily Dzieweczynski works to promote empathy between living beings by creating artistic immersive and sensory spaces. The current research tests these ideas by using data from the receding Rhöne Glacier in Oberwald, Switzerland. This glaciological data paired with neurobiological research on empathy demonstrates that creating 1.) an immersive environment and 2.) a sensory experience of the glacier could produce the strongest empathetic response. An immersive environment is created using virtual reality, selected because of its studied success rate in provoking empathy. The team studies both the sensory qualia of the glacier and our neurobiological processing of the stimuli to create sensory spaces. Through these immersive environments, education, and community outreach, the work aims to bring attention to climate change and to create altruistic attitude through empathy with the natural environment. This research has been made possible by the Presidential Student/Faculty Collaboration Grant through Gustavus Adolphus College.

We are all connected. #betsyandemilymakesomething