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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Virtual Reality: Closing the Empathy Gap?

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Session Description

In a world where we feel increasingly dislocated from each other, virtual reality can build empathy and connection across great distances and cultures. But what does it mean if we never meet the people on that screen or set foot into their environment? Does this technology bring us together or pull us farther apart? Hear how nonprofits and filmmakers are using VR to engage communities in more meaningful ways, with the hope of inspiring solidarity and action—even from afar.

When | Where

1:30 PM - 2:45 PM Thursday, April 12 Lecture Theatre 4


Panel Discussion

Session leaders

  • Francesca Panetta Moderator
    Executive Editor, Virtual Reality, The Guardian
    Francesca Panetta is Executive editor of virtual reality at The Guardian. An multi-award winning digital artist and journalist, she has lead immersive innovation at the Guardian for the last 10 years. She currently runs the Guardian’s in house virtual reality production studio, dedicated to creating groundbreaking content. The studio’s first VR experience ‘a virtual experience of solitary confinement’ won attention around the world as an exemplary case of story and form. Before that she made interactive documentaries, augmented reality sound apps and lead the Guardian’s podcast team.
  • Nicole Newnham Speaker
    Filmmaker, Coco Films
    Nicole Newnham has been a documentary filmmaker for over twenty years. Most recently she produced “Collisions”. Previously, Nicole co-directed & produced the Emmy-nominated documentary The Revolutionary Optimists, which screened globally and was selected by the Emmy-award winning PBS series Independent Lens. The film, which followed an extraordinary group of young activists in the slums of Kolkata, inspired her to develop Map Your World, an online community and storytelling platform for young changemakers that enables youth to leverage mobile technology to map data on public health issues as the centerpiece of a campaign for change in their communities. Nicole initiated, co-produced and directed The Rape of Europa, about the fate of Europe’s art treasures during WWII. The Rape of Europa enjoyed a successful theatrical release, has been a much-broadcast PBS primetime special, was nominated for two national Emmys and a WGA award, and was shortlisted for the documentary Oscar. She was nominated for an Emmy for directing and co-producing the documentary Sentenced Home, also broadcast on the PBS series Independent Lens, which follows three Cambodian refugees in Seattle who are deported back to Cambodia after 9/11. She co-produced They Drew Fire, a widely acclaimed special for PBS about the combat artists of World War II, and wrote the companion book distributed by Harper Collins. Films she has directed have played at many prestigious venues, including the Sundance Film Festival, the New York Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco International Film Festival, Lincoln Center and the Walker Art Museum. Nicole earned a Master’s degree in Documentary Film from Stanford University in 1994.
  • Raja Ebenezer Speaker
    Lawyer, International Justice Mission
    When he was 14 years old, Raja’s whole family became trapped in bonded labor slavery at a brutal brick kiln, all because of a small loan. For two years, Raja worked 19 hours a day, sleeping in a one-room hut with his parents and without access to school. In 2004, International Justice Mission began investigating the brick kiln where Raja and his family were trapped, and eventually worked with local authorities to mobilize a rescue operation in the brick kiln that freed more than 130 people, including Raja. In 2005, Raja became the first member of his family to graduate from high school, after which he went on to complete a five-year degree in law. In 2012, Raja was hired by International Justice Mission as a lawyer to protect the rights of bonded laborers, supporting rescue operations and building solid cases against those who abuse the poor. Raja is married and has two little boys.
  • Gary Haugen Speaker
    CEO, International Justice Mission
    Gary Haugen is CEO and founder of International Justice Mission. Before founding IJM in 1997, Gary was a human rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, where he focused on crimes of police misconduct. In 1994, he served as the Director of the United Nations’ investigation in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. In this role, he led an international team of lawyers, criminal prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and forensics experts to gather evidence that would eventually be used to bring the perpetrators of the genocide to justice. Gary received a B.A. in Social Studies from Harvard University, and a J.D. from the University of Chicago. Gary has been recognized by the U.S. State Department as a Trafficking in Persons “Hero” – the highest honor given by the U.S. government for anti-slavery leadership. His work to protect the poor from violence has been featured by Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, the New Yorker, The Times of India, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, the Guardian and National Public Radio, among many other outlets. He is the author of several books, including Good News About Injustice (Intervarsity Press) and, most recently, The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence (Oxford University Press). Gary was invited to share the themes of The Locust Effect at the annual TED Conference in a talk entitled: The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now.
  • Lindsay Branham Speaker
    Founder, Novo Media
    Lindsay Branham is the Founder of Novo, an incubator for art that inspirits human connection in imaginative ways. She is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and social scientist, leveraging media and technology to end violence and human rights abuses. The interventions she has designed have targeted peacefully dismantling the Lord's Resistance Army from within, facilitating reintegration of former child soldiers, preventing recruitment into violent extremist groups, reducing psychological distress and challenging the root causes of bonded labour. Her partners in these media-based interventions include Search for Common Ground, The Freedom Fund and Google. Her current focus is exploring the efficacy of Virtual Reality to reduce prejudice in Central African Republic. Her last Virtual Reality documentary, Behind The Fence, was nominated for an Emmy and won the Grand Jury Award for best 360 film at SXSW. She has been published by CNN, BBC and The New York Times. She is a Kathryn Davis Fellow for Peace and was named the inaugural Envision social good fellow by the Independent Film Project and the United Nations. Her research investigating the link between media and behavior change has been published by Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and in academic journals. Lindsay studied trauma and mental health at Harvard Medical School and journalism at the University of Southern California. She is currently an MPhil candidate in Social Psychology at the University of Cambridge.
  • Tashka Yawanawa Speaker
    Chief of the Yawanawa, Associacao Sóciocultural Yawanawa
    Tashka Yawanawá is chief of the Yawanawá people in Acre, Brazil. As chief, he leads 900 people stewarding 400,000 acres of Amazon rainforest in Brazil. The son of the former leader of the Yawanawá, Tashka grew up witnessing the virtual enslavement of his people by the rubber industry and experiencing the near annihilation of the tribe’s culture by missionaries. Since the 1980s, Tashka has actively fought for the rights of indigenous peoples. Realizing that he needed further education to improve the situation of the Yawanawá, he pursued higher education in the U.S. and abroad. He was directly involved in the creation of the Indigenous Lawyers Association and co-founded the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Youth Alliance, through which he shares the experiences and knowledge of the Yawanawá with youth around the world, and works with projects that guarantee the preservation of different indigenous cultures.. In 2001, Tashka returned to Brazil, and chose to use the knowledge gained from his experiences abroad to help his people transform their future. He became the youngest Chief in the history of the Yawanawá at age twenty-five. In a short amount of time, Tashka and Laura have managed to double the extent of Yawanawá territory, reinvigorate Yawanawá culture, and establish economically and socially empowering relationships with the outside world. Tashka and Laura have two daughters—Kenemani and Luna Rosa—and divide their time living and working in the Yawanawá community and Rio Branco, Brazil.