"The Antheia Project: A Virtual Garden of Beauty, Solace, Science, and Education" Takes Root in the Heart of Europe
30 September 2014
In "Of Beauty and Solace: Technobiophilia and the Virtual Garden," I referenced a proposal I had been preparing for "The Antheia Project: A Virtual Garden of Beauty, Solace, Science, and Education." The project's goal is deceptively simple: to build a vast technobiophilia-centered virtual world composed of potentially thousands of virtual versions of real gardens around the globe. Visitors would learn about the history, significance, and collections of the gardens and develop a deeper understanding of ecology, environmental conservation, and sustainability all while enjoying their undeniable beauty and solace. A high-level overview of the project is provided below and details will be published in the coming weeks.
The proposal has been completed and I am excited to announce The Antheia Project has its first collaborator: l'Université de Strasbourg in the Alsace region of France. The University is over 500 years old with a tradition of excellence in multi-disciplinary and international education. It is a member of Eucor, which opens up possibilities for The Antheia Project to engage additional collaborators among participating universities in France, Switzerland, and Germany.
David Gauckler, Deputy Director at Université de Strasbourg, explained that the University is "in a really new way of thinking: the use of virtual worlds for our main missions, education, research, employability, collaboration and diffusion of the culture." The Antheia Project exemplifies this new thinking and, to that end, the first phase of the collaboration will be the creation of two regions on the University's E.V.E.R. grid - "Environnement Virtuel pour l'Enseignement et la Recherche" - to host my builds of "La Maison et les Jardins de Claude Monet à Giverny" and "Le Jardin Majorelle à Marrakech."
The Antheia Project represents an unprecedented opportunity to enhance the visibility of public and private gardens and make it possible for anyone with an Internet connection to visit their virtual representations at any moment and as often as desired with negligible travel time and expenses. In my view, the four most important advantages from increased visibility within the global, social, and technical setting of The Antheia Project are raised awareness of the beauty, solace, scientific research, and educational value gardens provide.
The overall vision for bringing The Antheia Project to life involves two teams: project management and project development.
The project management team will be responsible for establishing, organizing, and guiding an international long-term collaboration among industry, academia, and professional societies.
The project development team will be composed of students around the world from middle school through graduate school. The primary responsibilities of the students will be to build and maintain the virtual gardens. The students also will be expected to participate in activities relevant to the health, support, and evolution of the project such as attending events, making presentations, planning, conducting research, promoting the project using social media, and establishing collaborative relationships with other students around the world.
It is important to note the wide-ranging educational benefit of helping young people understand the interconnectedness among professions by developing skills useful for a wide variety of careers and giving them an opportunity to collaborate on an international interdisciplinary project involving: science, technology, engineering, mathematics, graphics design, cultural literacy, foreign languages, team building, software engineering, network engineering, architecture, event planning and hosting, retail, fund-raising, conservation, animation, marketing, technical publishing, historic preservation, haptics, smell, research, presentation, publishing, tourism, sound recording and editing, and object mesh development.
The reasons for using students to develop The Antheia Project are straightforward:
- They will cultivate within themselves social, technical, and scientific skills that will expand their career options and enrich their lives;
- They will develop an understanding of where their interests lie and how to play to their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses;
- They will begin to appreciate the interconnections among professions;
- They provide a wonderful source of energy and creativity;
- They will form valuable friendships with people all over the planet;
- They will be the trained workforce that continues to develop The Antheia Project for generations to come.