A place to know about the world.
A study conducted by the Council of Foreign Relations tested over 1200 young college educated people on what they knew about key global and domestic issues.” The results of their study “revealed significant gaps between what young people understand about today’s world and what they need to know to successfully navigate and compete in it.” Young people scored on average less than 55%
Very few students regularly read the news and as a result, are often not adequately informed on important topics in comparison to their adult counterparts. While anecdotal, according to many students we spoke with, reading the newspaper whether online or in print is boring, takes too much time and effort and feels like schoolwork. The sentiments of these interviews seem to be backed up by Pew research studies which show that this younger generation of students is less informed than their adult counterparts. Very few students regularly read newspapers and instead, cite social media passively as the way they “stay” informed.
Virtual reality could be the key to making students care about global issues in a way that newspapers, videos, have failed to do. Virtual reality presents the closest opportunity for face to face interaction among individuals across the globe. Imagine sitting face to face with a refugee as she describes the massacre that happened in her village. Imagine, walking alongside rescue workers as they pull out children from the rubble in Syria. How would that make you feel? Would you be more likely to take action, to donate? Would it increase your empathy? The link between empathy and virtual reality is not just anecdotal.
The Stanford Virtual Interactions Lab has been investigating the link between VR and empathy for over 15 years and recently published a study showing that Virtual Reality increases empathy more than other medias leading to stronger and longer lasting compassion. A custom build virtual reality experience, that allows users to click on a map to teleport anywhere in the world and puts them face to face or in the shoes of someone who has been devastated by a global issue their, could be enough to make students care about a particular global issue.
Our website has curated what we believe are some of the most important issues for global citizens to be aware of. Our website is not subject to the 24-hour news cycle that puts out so much content that it becomes impossible to know what actually matters. Instead, We have put first-hand accounts of human issues that we as a society cannot ignore or look away from. The bloody civil war in South Sudan you probably have never heard off, the deterioration of human rights around the globe and upheaval and rise of populism that is fueling global power restructuring such as Brexit.
Our website is designed to inform Stanford students on global issues that matter. The opening page shows the top global issues of the month with short descriptions of what is happening. Our focus was to avoid becoming a news outlet and instead become a channel that builds empathy.
- The Empathy Box Team