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The Embodying Empathy Project

Professors Adam Muller and Katherine Starzyk in front of a rendering of a virtual residential school

A museum of ideas: Researchers enrich the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg

May 15, 2015 — 

WHAT: The Embodying Empathy Project uses leading-edge technologies to create a prototype virtual Indian Residential School in partnership with Survivors, Indigenous commemorative and educational agencies, archivists, scholars, and technology experts. This virtual “storyworld” is intended to immerse museum visitors in the lives of residential school children. This trailblazing project is designed by sociologist Andrew Woolford and English, film and theatre professors Struan Sinclair and Adam Muller. Psychology professor Katherine Starzyk will then evaluate whether the experience makes users more sensitive to Aboriginal issues.

HOW IT STARTED: The project was inspired by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which plans to use advanced technology to facilitate dialogue.

THE GOAL: To make Aboriginal peoples and settler Canadians more aware of the history of residential schools and their continuing impact upon our shared world. To better understand if new forms of digital media and memory can offer opportunities to better connect all Canadians to their history.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Museums are spending vast sums of money on generating technology like this, without any clear sense that it actually works in bridging the distance between witnesses and experiences of atrocity,” Muller says. “Everything is all multimedia and interactive in museums now, but nobody really knows if it should be.”



FUNDERS: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (partnership development grant and research grant), the University of Manitoba and the Criminology and Social Justice Research Fund Award






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