Virtual Reality and Empathy Education: Understanding Cultural, Gender and Ethnic Difference in the Workplace Setting is a two-year interdisciplinary research/creation project, which explores the potential of virtual reality engagement for empathy education specifically targeted for public workplace members. Fundamentally based on tenets of social intelligence (Thorndike, 1920), emotional intelligence (Gardner, 1983; Goleman, 1998; Mayer, Salovey, & Carus, 2004), emotional literacy (Steiner, 1997); and critical consciousness (Freire, 1968; and hooks, 1998) empathy education is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from their perspective and frame of reference (gender, class, sexual orientation, religion, culture, etc.).


This research/creation project has two main outputs that engage users to contemplate issues and attitudes about race, gender and social justice in the workplace: 1) a series of podcasts offering insight on the subject matter which include interviews with participants; and 2) a series of brief beta virtual reality experiences co-designed by participants as part of a series of empathy education workshops using virtual reality with participants.


Giuliana Cucinelli - Principal Investigator

Principal Investigator

Giuliana Cucinelli

Giuliana Cucinelli is an assistant professor in the Educational Technology program within the Department of Education. She is co-director of the Participatory Media cluster of Concordia’s Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, and Technology. Cucinelli’s research-creation program focuses on the social, cultural and educational impacts of technology.

Research Assistants

Zynor Majeed

In 2017, Zynor graduated from Concordia University with a BA in Communication Studies and immediately began an MA in Educational Technology at the same institution the following year. With experience in multimedia production (audio, video, stop-motion, and digital animation, and graphic design) and an interest in studio arts, he regularly engages in a variety of creative work. Curious and ambitious by nature, Zynor loves the challenge of learning about a new creative medium or software. [2017-2018]

Tristan Matheson

Tristan Matheson received his MA in Media Studies from Concordia University in 2016 and is currently enrolled in the Educational Technology Program at Concordia University (Montreal, QC). He acts as coordinator of the Community Differential Mobility Research Space at the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, and Technology and coordinator for the Critical Disability Studies Working Group at Concordia University. His research interests focus on culture, social interconnectivity, and interdisciplinary studies. [2015-2018]

Ashley Rankin

Ashley has a background in psychology and is currently finishing her Master’s in Educational Technology at Concordia University in Montreal. Her interests include the relationship between mental health and learning as well as the importance of social emotional learning and what are often called ‘soft skills’. [2015-2016]

Junesse Christiaans

Junesse is a trained Industrial Designer and a language teacher. She is currently completing her Master’s in Educational Technology at Concordia University. Her interests focus on adult education for lifelong learning, curriculum development, and the role of training and its integration in classrooms. [2015]

Thomas Gautier-Caron

Thomas recently graduated from Computation Arts / Computer Science at Concordia University. He is interested in games and interactive mediums. He believes in interaction as a way of communicating ideas and establishing dialogues. Thomas specialization is programming and was a research assistant on a research project that involved the creation of a game about 1920s syndicalism in Montreal. [2017-2018]

Émilie René-Véronneau

Émilie is a teacher and consultant in graphic design. She is currently an MA student in the Department of Educational Technology at Concordia University. Her research interests include creativity, cognition, gamification, tacit knowledge and virtual reality. She is a research assistant for a FRQSC funded project on youth media practices, identity, and online sociability as well as a research project on empathy education and virtual reality funded by Concordia University. [2015-2018]

Gabriela Kostova

Gabriela recently graduated from the MA in Educational Technology at Concordia University. She has a background in psychology and graphic design. Her interests include lifelong learning, informal learning, and the translation of research into effective and feasible instructional strategies. [2015-2016]



Department of Education
Concordia University
1610 Saint-Catherine Street W.
Montreal, Quebec | H3H 2S2

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