Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF)

Templeton World Charity Foundation, Inc (TWCF) awarded the Virtual Human-Computer Interaction (VHCI) Lab a grant of $234,000 to conduct two-years virtual reality research.  The research project titled “Teaching Children Empathy and Compassion through Virtual Reality Games” explores the potential of virtual reality (VR) for character development.  The grant was awarded under TWCF’s Global Innovations for Character Development (GICD) initiative. Global Innovations for Character Development fulfils its goal of establishing character development as a lever for social change, increased prosperity, and overall human flourishing through funded projects such as this.  They believe that character strengths play a critical role in improving the lives of individuals and communities and should be recognised in society. 

Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) is a foundation with an interest in funding interdisciplinary research on what it means to be human.  They support work to translate discoveries into practical innovations that enhance the positive and distinctive capacities that are at the core of human flourishing and well-being. The VHCI Lab’s research project falls also fulfils this goal of enhancing human capacity for empathy and compassion in ways that leads to a flourishing society. 

The Lab investigates the implications of the immersive, interactive and perspective-taking characteristics of technologies like computers, mobile devices and virtual reality (VR) for character development, learning, behaviour modification, wellbeing and productivity. 

The TWCF-funded two-year intervention and research project seeks ways to grow the character traits of empathy and compassion in a diverse society like Nigeria, where there are multiple expressions of religious, cultural, social and economic identities.  Targeting an initial group of teenagers, who make up more than 60 per cent of Nigeria’s population, the study hopes to explore the perspective-taking capabilities of VR to increase understanding of the identities of others different from ourselves. 

Working with the TWCF Global Innovations for Character Development (GICD)