Community Education Events

About the 1000 Cut Journey VR Experience

University of Michigan-Flint

The University of Michigan-Flint is proud to bring to its campus the 1000 Cut Journey – a virtual reality experience that transforms the participant into Michael Sterling at three points in his life. To be transparent, the goal of the 1000 Cut Journey is to have each participant experience being the subject of racial bias and racism. During this ten minute learning experience, each participant will be Michael as a child in school, an adolescent on the streets and as a job candidate as a young adult.

After the event, UM-Flint invites members of the public to share their thoughts and feelings about their experience taking on the persona of Michael Sterling. When they return their headset, there will be a QR code that takes them to an anonymous form where they can share feedback.  Comments will also be shared with the creator of the 1000 Cut Journey, Dr. Courtney Cogburn, Columbia University.  All collective comments will help her understand her potential audience when she comes to campus on April 11 for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion / Urban Institute for Racial, Economic, and Environmental Justice Spring Symposium.

Those who are experiencing their  first VR experience may feel dizziness or feel disoriented.  If so, they can feel free to remove the headset and sit down.

Experiencing racial bias and racist behavior is traumatic and can trigger responses that warrant support and counseling.

If you are compelled to action or wish to get more involved at UM-Flint, reach out to Q Dockery, the Program Manager for the Intercultural Center, 115 UCEN, (810) 762-3045.

Note that the equipment being used for this experience is property of the University of Michigan-Flint; please handle with care so that others can benefit from having this VR experience.

While this experience is still fresh, participants are asked use this QR Code to access an anonymous form to share  thoughts and feelings about participation in the 1000 Cut Journey.

About Dr. Courtney Cogburn

Associate professor of social work

Columbia University (Bio)

Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn employs a transdisciplinary research strategy to improve the characterization and measurement of racism and in examining the role of racism in the production of racial inequities in health.

She is also conducting research exploring the use of emerging technologies, including computational social science to examine patterns and psychosocial effects of cultural racism and how virtual reality experiences can lead to changes in attitudes, social perception and engagement (empathy, racial bias, structural competence and behavior).

Dr. Cogburn is the lead creator of 1000 Cut Journey, an immersive virtual reality racism experience that was developed in collaboration with the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University and which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018.

She is on the faculty of the Columbia Population Research Center and a core member of the Data Science Institute where she also co-chairs the Computational Social Science working group. Dr. Cogburn is also a faculty affiliate of the Center on African American Politics and Society.

She directs the Cogburn Research Group and co-directs the Justice Equity + Tech (JE+T) Laboratory at Columbia University. Dr. Cogburn completed postdoctoral training at Harvard University in the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar Program and at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

She received her Ph.D. in Education and Psychology, and MSW from the University of Michigan and her BA in Psychology from the University of Virginia. She is also a board member of the International Center Advocates Against Discrimination.

Additional Video Resources:

TED Talk “Experiencing Racism in VR.”

Keynote at the 2020, Games for Change Festival


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