This summer we hosted our first SET Foundations Seminar: Causation and Explanation in Science. The first session (June 21st-25th) was scheduled to be virtual, while the second session (July 12th-16th) was planned to be held in Durham, England. Due to travel restrictions, the event was moved online in the same format as the June virtual seminar. Participants were given asynchronous lectures, housed in our module, prior to the start of the seminars. Participants then took part in Q&Asessions with the speakers and then met in small groups to work through the topics and help apply them to their research.
With virtual events it is easy to lose the sense of community, we wanted participants to be able to connect as much as possible. To create those unstructured moments, we had lunch groups (done over zoom), receptions (done in VR), and activities (done in VR). Each participant, speaker, and resident theologian was sent a headset. We hosted events leading up to the seminar so people could become more familiar with the technology and get to know each other. During the seminar, we hosted receptions, where people had more casual conversations, and “activity nights” where folks could do things like bowling or laser tag. I think VR really allowed participants to connect in a way that isn’t possible over zoom. Below are our two groups meeting up in the virtual world.