Professor Amanda Licastro

Amanda Licastro, Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric at Stevenson's School of Humanities and Social Sciences, was recently awarded the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) Paul Fortier Prize for her paper entitled "Teaching Empathy through Virtual Reality."

Licastro presented her paper at the highly competitive Digital Humanities Conference in Montreal where approximately 2,000 people competed for the honor to be named a Paul Fortier Prize winner. The award, given for the best paper by a young scholar, honors late University Distinguished Professor of French, Paul Fortier.

ADHO panelists described Licastro as a trailblazer in the digital humanities field as her paper illustrated the potential of virtual reality in a teaching context. "This project demonstrates the potential for digital humanities to foster a deeper human understanding, specifically by focusing on and exploring the question of empathy in an educational context," ACH representative to the ADHO awards committee Micki Kaufman said. "The project illustrates the possibilities that innovative teaching provides as well as the power of digital humanities to foster greater social engagement and understanding through pedagogy."

Licastro, who said she was deeply honored to receive the prize, strongly believes in Stevenson students and hopes to demonstrate that everyone has boundless potential as humans.

"My presentation gave me the chance to showcase the innovative ingenuity of our students and to demonstrate the power of collaborative, project-based pedagogy," Licastro says. "Introducing any new technology into a learning environment is risky, but I believe it is vital to prepare our students to be leaders in their chosen industries, which means making the most cutting-edge tools available to them for consideration."

An English professor at SU since 2015, Licastro taught herself the skills necessary to understand digital technology and teach it to others. She encourages students to explore the unknown and learn new skills that are outside of their comfort zones.