media release

Indigenous teachings & climate crisis highlighted at SFU VR showcase

June 13, 2023

Simon Fraser University students who spent the past semester exploring “alternate realities” have created their own immersive virtual reality (VR) experiences and will share them at a showcase on Wednesday, June 14, 12:30 pm – 4:30 pm at SFU’s Surrey campus.

The Semester in Alternate Realities (SIAR) offers a non-typical educational experience meant to inspire student teams from various disciplines to solve real-world problems through exploring VR and hybrid VR physical installations.

The event will be an opportunity to experience the cutting-edge developments in the field of VR, as showcased by SIAT's talented students. VR projects include:

EcoSpectra: An immersive VR museum that transcends time. As you traverse this extraordinary landscape, you will witness the stark consequences of environmental neglect. The project serves as a powerful call to action for preserving our natural world;

Honourable Harvest: Discover Indigenous teachings and form a kinship with sacred medicines in a transformative VR experience. The project emphasizes the concepts of respect, reciprocity, and the powerful bond between humans and nature;

In Bloom: Embarks on a VR journey alongside a mystical creature, solving puzzles to restore nature in a desolate city. This VR experience aims to foster a deep connection between users and their environment;

Last Call to Elysium: Assume the role of an astroconductor, exploring alien ruins and decoding the tales of past civilizations. This sci-fi narrative holds a mirror up to humanity's future if the climate crisis remains unaddressed.

Each project combines technology and narrative to address pressing global issues, fostering experiences that are impactful and immersive.

Hosted by the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology, the Semester in Alternate Realities is a first-of-its-kind course taught by Bernhard Riecke and Patrick Pennefather. 

“Our students' work transcends traditional storytelling and VR technology, reflecting the vast potential that immersive experiences have in facilitating discussions on crucial societal themes, including environmental conservation, Indigenous traditions, and humanity's potential future scenarios,” says Riecke. Feedback from the showcase with “undoubtedly inspire our students as they navigate the exciting frontier of VR design and development.”

More details about the unique teaching environment can be found here.

Media are welcome to attend the showcase. For more information on these and other projects see:


BERNHARD RIECKE, professor, School of Interactive Arts & Technology


MELISSA SHAW, SFU Communications & Marketing 
236.880.3297 |  

Simon Fraser University
Communications & Marketing |  SFU Media Experts Directory


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