Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

This blog will expand the reach of these community conversations to the online audience. Add your posts and comments to keep the conversation going! Commit to action by clicking HERE to stay up to date on Salon and social justice news.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Can video games generate #empathy?

Planted in the developed world, it can be difficult to understand the tangled web of actors and issues that comprise the world's most pressing conflicts. Even more difficult than mere understanding, is relating to the plight of individuals and communities a world away. Project Syria aims to counteract this dissonance by granting users an opportunity to understand daily life amid the Syrian Civil War through interactive video play. Developed by students at the University of Southern California, the game utilizes first-person interviews, documentary footage, and audio samplings to give users an opportunity to immerse themselves, albeit virtually, in a high-conflict environment. 

Nonny de la Peña, head of Project Syria, describes virtual reality as an "empathy generator," and seeks with the project to inspire connections and motivate further learning on the Syrian conflict.  

What do you think of Project Syria? Can a video game connect users with the plights of communities around the world? Does it exploit the suffering some communities experience? 

Harriet Beecher Stowe's loss of her son Samuel Charles allowed her to begin to empathize with the heartbreak women who were enslaved endured when they were taken or separated from their families. She then infused this empathy into Uncle Tom's Cabin. Can we generate empathy without experiencing tragedy ourselves? Have you ever felt empathy from a movie, book, song, or game?  

1 comment:

J.Wilcox said...

What an incredible experience this must be, it really showcases the power of immersion...and the idea of using empathy to inspire commitment to creating change. It reminds me of the "Follow the North Star" experience at Conner Prairie, and how walking in the shoes of a slave really makes you FEEL. Museums should consider adapting similar immersion experiences to convey messages and pull visitors into their stories and missions. Imagine the experience of wearing similar goggles and watching - up close - a scene from "12 Years A Slave" while learning about 19th century slavery and Harriet Beecher Stowe. That'd be an authentic empathy generator.