After months of planning, the interdisciplinary research project entitled “The Humanities in Virtual Reality. Methodenentwicklung und -anwendungspotenziale der Virtual Reality für die Geisteswissenschaften” [in English: Developing methods and applications of Virtual Reality in the Humanities] begins its work.
Thanks to the generous support of Lower Saxony’s Ministry of Science and Culture (MWK Niedersachsen), a team of researchers from two German universities (Hildesheim and Potsdam), joined by international partners, will have the chance to explore the potential impact that Virtual Reality technology will have on our understanding of culture, communication, and learning.
HumaniVR is based on the following working hypothesis and questions:
A. In the future, Virtual Reality – or rather: Realities – will become significant spaces of digital social practice, beyond gaming. Together with other users, we will immerse ourselves in strange and fantastic (or conventional and lifelike) spaces. We will work, play, and interact with each other while using language, our hands, bodies, motion, and digital communicative modes.
-> How will we communicate in VR? Will our language, our behavior — and ultimately our minds — change, once we spend ample time in VR?
-> Will these experiences rearrange our understanding of distance, social contacts, culture and location? Will our VR experiences feedback to our experiences and communicative routines in real life and real spaces?
B. Virtual Reality will become and is currently becoming a significant space for learning: language learning, intercultural learning – and any other subject, in fact.
-> How can we make the best of this new technology for students of languages in school, university, and outside of traditional learning situations, when VR enables us to travel to far-away countries, cultures, and linguistic environments – from our living rooms, using only our cell phones and a cardboard box.