Arizona State Launching New VR/AR Classes, Nonny De La Peña To Helm

The program will cover everything from VR and AR to immersive journalism.

Starting this Fall, Arizona State University expands its offerings through a distinctive partnership between its Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and its Sidney Poitier New American Film School / Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts to create a new graduate degree program centered on new narratives driven through emerging technology and virtual production.

The Center for Narrative and Emerging Media (NEM) will be housed in Downtown Los Angeles in the Herald Examiner Building, newly renovated to welcome faculty, staff, and students. NEM’s goal is to teach and support students, from reporters to artists to entrepreneurs and engineers, who are pursuing careers across the burgeoning creative technology sector.

Lead by Peabody award-winner and founder of the Emblematic Group, Nonny de la Peña announced the program earlier this month at a private celebration to honor her induction into SXSW’s Hall of Fame. She took the opportunity to speak about her vision for NEM alongside the program’s first official employee, Mary Matheson, a formerly UK-based accomplished director across traditional and immersive storytelling.

This program begins an opportunity to shift demographics within the immersive technology industry,” says de la Peña. “We want to provide education and support and scale toward creating more diverse and inclusive spaces within narrative and emerging media.”

“Nonny is such a pioneer in the immersive world, not just in the US, but globally. It was a no-brainer for me to join her on this mission and move to Los Angeles from the UK,” says Matheson. “It wasn’t just her reputation as an XR trailblazer that brought me here, it was our shared vision and commitment to make sure that our burgeoning global immersive industry is built by diverse voices, using equitable frameworks. We are passionate about creating new systems and different methods of working to ensure that not only is our program inclusive, but that our students are ‘best in class’ immersive creators, producers, and distribution leaders.”

Students will explore numerous technologies and methodologies, including AR/VR/XR, experiential design best practices, haptics, technology policy, and immersive journalism. Students will also join incubators to solve real-world issues. 

In earning their ASU master’s degree, graduating students will walk out of NEM knowing how to become directors and producers for narrative immersive media projects. The program centers on virtual production and embodied stories taught by professors of varied disciplines within the emerging field of emerging media. 

“I am amazed at the caliber of individuals who want to come and support our program,” shares de la Peña. ​​”What is amazing is how many people, in their hearts, want to see the demographics change within tech. I am really excited about this industry and I know many of my colleagues would understand the importance and potential of a program like this.”

Those interested in applying can do so this Spring. Details on the program can be found here.

Image Credit: ASU

About the Scout

Darragh Dandurand

Living to tell stories and build worlds, one adventure at a time. Darragh Dandurand is a multi-disciplinary creative whose award-winning works have reached international audiences by way of photography, writing, journalism, filmmaking, new media and immersive technology. She is known for artistic and academic efforts in story development, creative direction / strategy and community engagement. When she's not working, Darragh is volunteering, traveling, dreaming up projects, or dancing the night away.

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