Empathy Response Project

The Empathy Response Project was created to teach people of authority how to recognize the signs of trauma. Users are placed in three different roles— the student, the professor, and a third-person bystander— and are taught the appropriate responses and empathic skills to respond to those in need. The project was spearheaded by Patti McSteen, Ph.D., who was OHIO's dean of students at the time, and Ohio University's chief of detectives Rick Sargent. Eric Williams, a professor at the McClure School and expert in cinematic virtual reality, produced the Empathy Response Project. 

Sammy Lahiri, cinematographer and editor of the Empathy Response Project, explains the need for education on campuses across the nation. “A lot of teachers are not prepared for that very delicate situation that needs to be handled,” Lahiri said.

Jake Haire, director of the project, is a senior studying media arts production and marketing, with a certificate in international business. Haire explained the importance of using virtual reality to teach empathetic responses to student trauma. “[Users are] not supposed to be feeling one hundred percent comfortable,” says Haire. “It's one thing to talk about [empathy] or to be taught about it, but to experience it yourself, that is what virtual reality allows us to do.”