LASSR Initiatives

Applied Social Science Research

LASSR focuses on a series of critical issues of public concern including policing, community relations, health disparities, and education inequality. LASSR aims to partner and collaborate with government entities, organizations, and businesses to better address these issues. LASSR was developed after a group of social scientists realized that the innovative research being conducting inside of universities was limited in its ability to extend outside of universities. LASSR aims to better collaborate with policy makers and community members to bridge the gap between academics and non-academics. LASSR’s core belief is that scholarly research can simultaneously be rigorous and applied directly to impacting policy and community.

LASSR is at the forefront of cutting-edge social science research that links to technological innovations like virtual reality in order to make research more applied and palpable. LASSR has three spaces: a conference suite and two lab spaces including five private, virtual reality rooms and a large virtual reality suite outfitted for interactive and movable virtual reality simulations. Working with LASSR provides access to university resources and spaces. In addition to facilitating the design and relevancy of social science research by forging connections with policy makers, organizations, corporations and local communities, LASSR provides trainings and teaching modules for continuing education and upgrading existing programs and organizations. LASSR provides dissemination plans for programmatic expansion and community outreach and has the capacity to conduct large-scale quantitative studies, focused experiments, and smaller qualitative, interview-based studies. LASSR produces evaluations and strategies for highlighting successes and addressing shortcomings.

Over the past four years, LASSR has developed over 100 virtual reality scenarios, trained and worked with roughly 2,000 police officers in one of the nation’s 30 largest police departments as well as in other departments across the U.S. to develop and implement a police decision-marking virtual reality program. We also have hosted over 100 government officials and had hundreds of students participate in our simulations to provide feedback to further improve its optimization. In addition to our police decision-making program, we have received grant funding from Google to further enhance our technological capabilities. With funding and partnerships from AT&T, USA Today, and Flikshop, we have developed virtual reality programs focused on cyberbullying in schools, workplace interactions, and advanced job training for people who are incarcerated.