Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics moves to the humanities, appoints new director

June 22, 2020

The Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at Arizona State University was founded on the belief that ethical behavior can create better and more positive outcomes in every facet of life. Now, more than 20 years after the center was first established, this mission is being reinvigorated with an official move to the humanities and a new director.

In July, Elizabeth Langland will take on the role of director of the center. Langland has been with ASU since 2007, serving as vice provost of the West campus and dean of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Since then, Langland has served in several other roles at ASU, including interim dean of humanities at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and, most recently, as director of the Institute for Humanities Research.  Elizabeth Langland has been appointed the new director of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics. Download Full Image

“This move marks the next chapter for the Lincoln Center and The College,” said Jeffrey Cohen, dean of the humanities. “Applied ethics in their relation to technology and innovation have never been more urgent, and this emphasis enables the center to fulfill founding vision of the Lincoln family. As we embark on this transition, I am confident that with Elizabeth’s outstanding leadership there will be many exciting collaborations and projects to come.”

Langland specializes in Victorian British literature, particularly in theory of the novel and feminist criticism. She has authored four books and dozens of articles and has edited or co-edited five books on these topics.

After working at other universities, Langland said she was drawn to ASU for the university’s unique emphasis on interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary study and collaboration. She said she sees ethics as an essential foundation for any discipline and hopes this move will encourage more cross-discipline collaboration moving forward.

“This is a way of really creating significant synergies with what other centers and departments are doing, because ethics truly is just a part of every aspect of our lives,” Langland said. “If you're studying business, it's important to think about what ethical practices are and why you want to institute ethical practices in business. If you're studying medicine, obviously we want to behave ethically toward patients. If we're thinking about engineering, we want to make sure bridges don't collapse and that buildings don't fall apart. All of these are critical issues to think about instead of just making profit.”

In addition to encouraging collaboration, the center will have a new focus on ethical innovation and humane technologies. With this new focus, Langland also hopes to collaborate beyond the university with innovators in the field of technology to inform ethically based innovation.

“We're depending so much on technology. It’s done so many wonderful things for us, but at the same time, people have major concerns about the effects of technology on our life,” Langland said. “Our challenge in the coming years is to ensure that innovation is ethically based. As No. 1 in innovation, let's make that innovation ethically based.”

Emily Balli

Manager of marketing and communications, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

ASU psychology researcher creates game to promote understanding of how COVID-19 spreads

June 22, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread unemployment, remote working, school closures, business closures and overwhelmed health care systems.

Mina Johnson-Glenberg, a research scientist in the Arizona State University Department of Psychology, created a web-based and augmented reality COVID-19 Modeling Simulation to create an engaging way to teach people how the virus spreads and ways to reduce transmission. Mina Johnson-Glenberg Mina Johnson-Glenberg, a research scientist in the Arizona State University Department of Psychology, created a web-based and augmented reality COVID-19 Modeling Simulation to create an engaging way to teach people how the virus spreads and ways to reduce transmission. Download Full Image

“I’ve been creating simulations to teach STEM content for over a decade, and now that the technology has become more widely available, we have been taking what we know about two-dimensional content and transforming it for 3D,” Johnson-Glenberg said. “The lab turned this model into a public safety announcement to show the general public how COVID spreads. Users can space people out various distances and then put masks on certain avatars to see how those actions reduce the spread as well.”

Johnson-Glenberg’s Embodied Games Lab recently won an XR Challenge award for creating a visualization model to demonstrate the spread of another infectious disease — Ebola. The team pivoted to work on the COVID-19 simulation to show the effects of physical distance between avatars and how effective wearing a mask can be. Once the user has defined the physical spacing and whether or not the game’s character is wearing a mask, they can see what happens in either a 2D or 3D scenario.

“Wearing masks and keeping a distance is so important, and we think this game will help people internalize that message even more,” Johnson-Glenberg said. “This tool is extremely useful for people who may not understand how something like COVID spreads. We thought teachers and families would particularly benefit from this interactive simulation.”

To reduce transmission, the CDC recommends physical distancing of 6 feet and wearing a cloth face covering, in addition to regular hand washing and sanitizing of high-touch surfaces.

Mina Johnson-Glenberg uses augmented and virtual reality to highlight the importance of social distancing and mask-wearing during the COVID-19 epidemic.

For anyone who would like to play the alpha version of the game, click this link. (iOS not available yet.)

Aggregating COVID-19 visualization research

Johnson-Glenberg is also the co-editor of a special issue of Frontiers in Psychology for those who have created compelling COVID simulations. The issue is still open for short papers, and the publication fee is waived until December 2020. Topics include using simulations and interactive visualization as teaching tools in education; theoretical modeling; using augmented, mixed or virtual reality (XR) in simulations of COVID-19; and concepts about simulations and visualization techniques.

“I thought it would be useful to pull together some of the best simulation research related to COVID-19 from countries around the world and to collate it all in one place. Thankfully, Frontiers agreed, and also Dr. Megan Jehn at SHESCThe School of Human Evolution and Social Change at ASU. consented to be a co-editor,” Johnson-Glenberg said.

Future of education in virtual and augmented reality group

Students and faculty who are interested in virtual and augmented reality (also called XR), including simulations and games for the general public, are encouraged to join the chair, Johnson-Glenberg and colleagues at the FEVAR monthly meetup, starting again in September 2020.

Also, Johnson-Glenberg is an invited speaker presenting on Embodied Learning and the differences in 3D VR compared with 2D PC at the Immersive Learning Research Network. The session is on June 24 at 7 p.m. PST. Free tickets are available.

For the latest ASU-specific COVID-19 guidelines, visit:

Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology