VR ‘bias’-busting bus makes stops at Cornell, Georgetown

Both Cornell and Georgetown University hosted the “Check Your Blind Spots Unconscious Bias Tour” bus in September.

The bus uses virtual reality to place participants in simulated situations where they may encounter “unconscious bias.”

A mobile virtual reality experience aimed to help students “check” their bias “blind spots” is still touring the country and may soon be making its way to a campus near you.

The “Check Your Blind Spots unconscious bias tour” bus is a project of CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, an organization focused on increasing workplace diversity and offering a “unique, technology-enabled multimedia experience” that helps participants to recognize their own “blind spots that can potentially influence everyday decision-making.”

The organization launched the virtual reality bus tour in fall 2018 and the bus has made stops at various institutions, including a February appearance at the University of North Carolina.

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The bus stopped at Georgetown University on Wednesday and Cornell earlier in the month.  Angela Winfield, Cornell’s associate vice president for inclusion and workforce diversity, described the bus as “engaging, interactive and fun.”

“It’s a nice complement to the various lectures and workshops offered on campus,” Winfield said, noting that the VR activity introduces a “concrete” element to the topic of diversity, which she says is so often kept “at a conceptual, abstract level.”

“You walk onto the front of the bus, the first thing you encounter are telephones. You pick up a phone and you hear a conversation between a landlord and tenant,” Winfield explained. “In one experience, you are watching a workplace meeting going on, and you can click through and identify when there was a bias or not.”

[RELATED: ‘Unconscious bias’ trailer tours campuses]

“There’s a virtual reality exercise that puts you in the shoes of a person who’s different from you,” she continued in the school news release. “Another...asks you a few questions about your network, and gives you a graphic on how diverse your inner and outer circles are or not.”

Organization spokeswoman Ida Hill told Campus Reform that college campuses are optimal stops for the tour because CEO Action’s goals include helping to “raise students’ awareness of unconscious biases,” and encouraging them to “take part in diversity and inclusion conversations both in their communities and with their future employers.”

“A unique collaborative of nearly 600 CEOs have signed on to this commitment, agreeing to take action to cultivate environments where diverse experiences and perspectives are welcomed and where employees feel comfortable and encouraged to discuss diversity and inclusion,” Hill told Campus Reform.

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