Announced on the 7th October 2017 at the Immersive Media Conference, John Hopkins University has added ‘ Immersive Storytelling & Emerging Technologies’ (ISET) to its Film & Media Masters Arts Program. The course will be starting in January, so individuals looking to further their knowledge in immersive storytelling or potentially find a way to fund their project should be excited. VRFocus spoke to Gabo Arora, a filmmaker most well known for his virtual reality (VR) documentary Clouds over Sidra about ISET, a course he designed and is leading.
ISET is a two year Masters program consisting of 10 courses that will focus on cutting-edge technology focusing on VR, augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (A.I.). John Hopkin’s Film & Media of Arts program is ranked among the most diverse in America’s graduate programs across race, gender and ethnicity with nearly 70% women and 80% people of colour. Tuition is a third of what similar programs cost at institutions like New York University and University of Southern California, making it more accessible to students who might not otherwise have access to the expensive tolls necessary to explore uncharted technological territories. One of the aims of the new offering is to use the power of immersive technology for urban renewal in Baltimore as well as students working together with the John Hopkins School of Medicine and Lieber Institute for Brain development to utilize VR as a tool to treat and diagnose schizophrenia and autism. Gabo explains that the Film & Media Masters Arts Program is only two years old and unlike most traditional film courses isn’t stuck in its ways, but is open to experimentation and new opportunities.
“I began my journey in virtual reality filmmaking at the United Nations, with the goal of using this new and rich storytelling medium to create empathy for some of the world’s most pressing challenges. VR and AR can tell and teach with a depth that is unattainable in most other creative media,” said Arora. “The concentration, when combined with Johns Hopkins’ strong academic programs, will drive social impact across disciplines ranging from medicine to law and international relations.”
The Immersive Media Conference showcased a demo of Freedom Fighter, a social justice experience that uses AR to connect users with the past of Baltimore and Baltimore civil rights leader Lillie May Carrroll Jackson. This project is a perfect example of what ISET hopes students will create when on the course. The course therefore is very practical, and depending on the number of people who sign up there should be around 15-20 students per course. Gabo hopes that by the time the students finish ISET, more jobs in the fields of VR, AR and A.I. will be available for them to immediately take.
Applications are open till the end of the year and can be found here. To find out more about what Gabo hopes to do in the course, and how he intends to teach watch the video below.