Dialogue through fun: Factuality gets things rolling/Writing Cafés

Through January, we’re publishing year-in-review highlights from FY2020. Download a full PDF of this year’s Annual Report to read more!

Finding dialogue through fun: Game Factuality gets things rolling

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, UVA community members gathered in January to experience Factuality, “A 90-minute crash course on structural inequality in America”, co-hosted by the Library, the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights, and the Center for Health Policy at Batten.

Designed and moderated by Natalie Gillard, players take on identities based on the intersection of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, faith, ability, and age. The game uses real-world data about advantages and limitations due to structural inequality to craft players’ experience as their avatar moves around the board. Factuality unfolds as a facilitated dialogue, intended to imbue players with a deeper understanding of bias, structural inequality, and institutionalized discrimination. Gillard has hosted Factuality events at hundreds of organizations across the United States.

Writing Cafés

Research and Writing Cafés, popular for their companionable quiet and — of course — free coffee and snacks, barely skipped a beat when classes rapidly shifted online in March 2020. The weekly Café, originally intended to provide writing support to graduate students, skipped only one session before moving completely online. The online Zoom sessions attracted students and faculty alike; a testament to the broad interest in camaraderie and support as our community sought new work routines in the distanced environment.

There were nearly 20 two-hour Café sessions during the academic year, about half on Zoom. Each began with a quick check-in for attendees to voice personal goals before settling into quiet writing and research. Librarians kept conversation moving, piped coffee house music into the meeting, and remaining available on chat for research support. The events served several hundred attendees and garnered rave reviews. Research and Writing Cafés are organized by Librarians Ashley Hosbach and Sherri Brown.

An avatar (a card with the picture of person, upright in a holder) with the name Sofia written under the picture, along with several pieces that players collect, and the Factuality gameboard in the background.

One of the avatars that players of Factuality move around the gameboard, and some of the pieces that players collect as they answer question about how their avatar is affected by structural inequality. Photos by Amber Lautigar Reichert.

The gameboard on a table, surrounded by avatars, color-coded question slips, and game pieces.

The Factuality game board.

A group of players gathered around the table watching as one moves his avatar on the gameboard.

University Librarian John Unsworth (second from the left) joins players from the University community in a game of Factuality.

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