MacArthur Island Opens in Virtual World of Second Life
The island is the latest of a series of MacArthur-supported projects carried out over the past two years to explore the power of virtual spaces for social good. They include a number of MacArthur-hosted events in virtual worlds on a range of issues from human rights to community development. With MacArthur support, the University of Southern California held a community challenge to identify new projects that promote the public good in the physical and virtual worlds. Winning proposals were each awarded 100,000 Linden dollars (Second Life currency equivalent to approximately $400 USD) and a plot of land in Second Life to build their projects. On the teen platform of Second Life, MacArthur grantee Global Kids worked with the Chicago-based Field Museum on “I Dig Tanzania,” a project to engage young people in paleontology. Most recently, the Foundation supported the Field Museum in launching WhyReef, a virtual reef to help teens understand marine biodiversity while building science literacy.
The exploration of virtual worlds is part of the Foundation’s $50 million digital media and learning initiative, which seeks to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. Answers are critical to developing the social institutions that can meet the needs of this and future generations.