The Just XR Futures Lab is an intergenerational group of five faculty researchers and instructors at the U-M who have come together to produce interdisciplinary collaborative research and curriculum development focusing on difference, representation and racial, gender, and ethnic diversity and justice through new digital medias such as XR (by XR we mean virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality technologies).
Patricia S. Yaeger Collegiate Professor Sara Blair (English) and Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor Lisa Nakamura (American Culture and Digital Studies) are critical visual scholars who teach undergraduate courses about and using virtual reality to interrogate empathy, identity, and narrative. Associate Professor Chris Quintana (Education and Learning Sciences) designs and conducts in-depth studies of digital media pedagogy with a special focus on informal platforms such as games and other playful media. Assistant Professors Yvette Granata (Department of Film, Television and Media and Digital Studies Institute) and Emilia Yang (Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design) are accomplished critical software and design practitioners whose award-winning mixed reality titles shed new light on gender, race, mourning, and memory.
We build on previous instructional and research experience to study XR as a distinctive opportunity to learn about diversity and inequity, informing design of new undergraduate liberal arts courses that meet a pedagogical need for Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity content and/or the production of knowledge of social difference, as well as digital media literacy. Our arts-based lab course development integrates XR tool and content design to support innovation in equity-centered XR production. A key aspect of our research is analyzing the development and use of assessment tools designed to understand learning outcomes around the use of XR as a resource to support equity and justice learning and critical attention to the power and limits of XR technologies.