Updated: Oct 21
Click here for a brief introduction to Peace Literacy and why it will be critical for navigating the VR revolution
Building the Peace Literacy Metaverse*
August 2015, Paul K. Chappell tries the HTC Vive Pre virtual reality headset for the first time. He begins researching and writing about how virtual reality could be used to enhance the teaching of Peace Literacy, and why we need to escalate our Peace Literacy skills to compensate for the tidal wave of trauma that virtual reality will both reveal and unleash.
January 2017, Paul taught the first of many workshops on the importance of Peace Literacy skills for navigating virtual reality and augmented reality technologies.
August 2018, Paul published the essay The World of Electric Light: Understanding the Seductive Glow of Screens about the upcoming virtual reality and augmented reality revolution and the need to escalate our Peace Literacy in response.
June 2020, the Peace Literacy Institute team began providing Peace Literacy lectures and workshops in VR, using VR headsets and full-body tracked avatars to cast into Zoom from our custom-designed curricular worlds. Depicted below: Original avatars for Paul and our curriculum coordinator Shari Clough.
Below, Paul's avatar wields the Sword that Heals, a concept borrowed from King who wrote: "Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals." The sword is emblazoned with Gandhi's Sanskrit motto "Satyagraha" or Truthforce.
August 2020, we started calling our curricular worlds the “Peace Literacy Metaverse,” a new kind of universe for exploring the human condition, allowing us to teach Peace Literacy through a multi-sensory curricular approach that we call “Spatio-Allegorical Pedagogy.”
January 2021, Paul gives a Zoom presentation, below, about the need to leverage virtual reality to wage peace.
May 2021, we began a pilot project with high school teachers who used VR headsets to journey through the first of our VR curricular worlds: "The Island of Aggression."
In the video, below, Paul offers a preview of the Peace Literacy Metaverse that transforms the classroom into an epic journey, taking students on a field trip into the human condition.
Note on the avatar design in the video above:
We describe the journey to fully develop the muscles of our humanity (empathy, reason, conscience, hope, etc.) and fulfill our non-physical human needs (purpose and meaning, self-worth, challenge, etc.) as the journey to become fully human, keeping in mind the paradox that although we are born human, we also have to develop our humanity by learning how to treat others well, treat ourselves well, navigate struggle, and build strong communities and peaceful societies. As students progress through the Peace Literacy Metaverse, their avatars become more geometrically complex and more human-like in form, symbolizing their progression on the journey to become fully human.
October 2021, we had the privilege of spending three days in workshops with leaders of the Abrahamic Reunion—a group dedicated to creating peace in the Middle East between people of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths. We are now working with them to translate our Peace Literacy VR software into Arabic and Hebrew. Here is a two-minute video we made showing their response to the training:
November 2021, marked the first time that high school students used VR headsets to learn Peace Literacy in virtual reality. These students were from the Orange County Department of Education ACCESS program for youth-placed-at-risk. In the video, below, you can see the students in the VR world; at the end we show a glimpse of the Eye of Empathy, which is one of the powers that students unlock enabling alternatives to aggression.
May 2022, our partners in the the Abrahamic Reunion sent us this short (6 min) video, below, of endorsements of our Peace Literacy VR training from young peace builders in the Middle East.
In May 2022, we created a cloth map to accompany the Peace Literacy VR journey into the human condition. The map can be enhanced and animated using augmented reality, in order to create a portal that leads to the Island of Aggression. In the video below, you'll see the portal appearing out of the physical environment which at the moment can only be rendered in black and white—more advanced headsets will be released in the next twelve months (including a headset from Apple) that can depict your physical surroundings in full-color.
Eventually, VR/AR devices will be released that can not only enhance our experience of virtual worlds, they will also enhance our ability to see our physical world, allowing us to see in the dark, see stars in the night sky that are invisible to our naked eyes, see behind us, zoom in on objects that are very small or faraway, and see ultraviolet light.
*Note on our use of the term "metaverse"
Many people today refer to the "metaverse"as a single and interconnected network, like "the internet," but of course there is not just one internet. Although the United States and China both use the same Internet Protocol Suite these countries have different internets in terms of content. The "dark web" can also be considered a different internet, when content is concerned, than the internet used by most people. Our Peace Literacy research predicts that the VR/AR revolution will further this trend toward digital fragmentation. There will be many more metaverses than internets, and many kinds of metaverses–which will form a kind of multiverse. We need Peace Literacy to help people maintain their humanity across the multiverse.
When people want the metaverse to be a single and interconnected network, this includes interoperability between all forms of online content such as digital items and avatars. But an education platform that serves students (such as the Peace Literacy Metaverse) should not be interoperable with the Forest of Mazes (the name we are using for the embodied technological medium that will replace pornography, which will include many worlds comprised of violent sexual content where people can do anything they want to virtual humans). The dream of a single metaverse doesn’t seem to take into account how much content in our digital future will be sculpted by people’s tangles of trauma, how much of this content will be far more extreme than the violent, conspiratorial, and hyper-sexualized online content that exists today, and how effective humans can be at putting up not just physical barriers, but also digital ones.