SCC Faculty Knowledge BaseEquipmentVirtual RealityApplicationsVR Applications - Humanities & Social Sciences

VR Applications - Humanities & Social Sciences

The following is a list of some existing VR experiences on a variety of social and cultural topics that we have tested and have determined could be incorporated into an existing humanities course. This list focuses on free or low-cost applications and experiences.

Apps that require a "PC Link Cable" require extra setup and can only be accessed while tethered to a VR-capable PC.

Apps that must be purchased will indicate a $ value in their entry. These values were accurate at the time of this list's creation.

  1. The Archive - Art museum of paintings from 1300-1970
    • Free via Sidequest download
  2. Dreams of Dali – Experience Salvador Dali's 1935 painting "Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet's 'Angelus'" as a virtual environment
    • Free Rift software (PC Link Cable)
  3. History of a Painting: What's the Point? - Experience the history of George Saurat and his "Sunday on La Grande Jatte" as a narrated VR "documentary"
    • Free via Meta Quest App Lab
  4. Kinoscope – Animated history of cinema in VR, takes the viewer on a journey through cinema and some of its greatest films, such as the Godfather films
    • Free experience available for download inside the "Within" App
  5. Kremer Collection – Travel through an Art museum full of paintings by 17th century Dutch and Flemish masters. View the paintings up close and hear audio descriptions of them.
    • Free Rift software (PC link cable)
  6. Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass – A VR experience of da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Discussion of da Vinci's painting techniques and painting processes using the latest research
    • Free app available in Steam VR using the Link cable
  7. MUVA: Virtual Museum of Art - A virtual art museum with rotating exhibitions. Check the website for current exhibitions.
    • Free via Meta Quest App Lab
  8. The Night Cafe - VR app allows you to explore the world of Vincent Van Gogh's painting first hand. Walk around inside Van Gogh's art.
    • Free Oculus Rift App (PC Link Cable)
  9. Dawn of Art – a virtual tour of early cave paintings in Chauvet cave in France
    • Free via Steam VR using the Link cable; 360 video version available via YouTube
  1. Send me Home – "On May 25, 1975, at age 18, Rickey Jackson was wrongfully imprisoned. He was exonerated and released on November 21, 2014 at age 57 after almost four decades in prison. Send Me Home follows Rickey through his surreal new life post-prison. "
    • Free via YouTube VR or from inside the "Within" App
  2. Step to the Line – "Shot entirely on location in California maximum-security prisons, "Step to the Line" is a virtual reality documentary that aims to provides a new perspective on prisoners, the correctional system, and even yourself. In this project, we see how release from prison can be just as jarring as incarceration, and how parallel lives diverge when someone serves time."
    • Free via YouTube VR or in the "Within" App
  3. Still Here - A YouTube 360 video version of a fully interactive experience of a fictionalize character - "Jasmine Smith" - as she reintegrates into her Harlem neighborhood after spending 15 years in prison. This experience is based on the actual experiences of 6 formerly incarcerated women.
    • Free via YouTube VR
  4. 6x9: a virtual experience of solitary confinement - Brief first-person experience of  being held in a segregation cell in a prison, while also discussing the psychological effects of this type of confinement.
  1. Bibli-o-mat – Virtual reading room lets you pull any public domain book from and view it in 3D
    • $3.99 on;  Installation via Sidequest (sideload)
  2. Tour of Charles Dickens' Home - The Dickens Museum offers a virtual reality tour of Dickens home on their website which, when visited from the browser within the Quest, can be viewed in full VR
    • Free virtual tour on the Dickens museum website
  3. Tour of Mark Twain Home and Museum - another web-based VR tour of a famous author's house. This one for Mark Twain's home in Hartford, CT.
    • Free VR tour on the Twain museum website
  1. As it is: Grand Canyon – VR documentary about the people protecting one of the world's great natural treasures
    • Free on YouTube VR
  2. Blue Planet Explore VR – Explore 40 scenic and culture heritage locations worldwide
    • $24.99 Oculus VR  app(PC Link Cable)
  3. Brink Traveler – 32 3D experiences in 22 locations to visit around the world with a virtual guide
    • $14.99 Meta Quest app
  4. Coral Compass: Fighting Climate Change in Palau - Documentary investigates the effects of climate change on the reefs around Palau, as well as the impacts of local practices intended to mitigate these effects. Experience from the Virtual Human Interaction Lab of Stanford University.
    • Free via YouTube VR
  5. Ecosphere – VR app containing 360 video episodes documenting " how communities in Fiji and Colombia are coming together to build resilience and safeguard future generations."
    • Free Meta Quest App
  6. Guardians of the Kingdom – A story about the connection between humans and whales
    • Free from YouTube VR
  7. How Volcanoes Affect Earth’s Climate over Millions of Years – Video from PBS' NOVA of  Sierra Nevadas' Long Valley Caldera and Antarctica's Mount Erebus and how gases from volcanoes change the Earth's climate
    • Free from YouTube VR
  8. Learn About Honey Bees in VR - A 360° Virtual Reality Field Trip – The 360 video by George Mason University was designed to teach 4th graders about honey bees
    • Free from YouTube VR
  9. Life on the Edge – Stories of the protectors of the Cardamom forest in Cambodia
    • Free on YouTube VR
  10. Ocean Rift – an "aquatic safari" app that lets you explore 14 different aquatic environments
    • $9.99 Meta Quest App
  11. Out of the Blue – The story of a family of fishermen in Mexico who change their fates to protect their reef
    • Free on YouTube VR
  12. Pollinator Park – You are in a future world where the global ecology has crashed and you are visting a virtual park to learn more about flora and fauna and how they work to form a healthy ecosystem
    • Free from Meta Quest apps lab
  13. Preventing Violence Promoting Peace in Niger – 360 Video introducing you to the stories of 3 individuals from Niger and how they are building a better future
    • Free from YouTube VR
  14. Solo to the South Pole – the story of Explorer Mattheiu Tordeur as he makes a solo journey to the South Pole
    • Free on YouTube VR
  15. The Protectors –  360 video documentary by Academy award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow that "chronicles a day in the life of a ranger in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo."
    • Free on YouTube VR
  16. This is Climate Change - 4 part series of documentaries dealing with different aspects of climate change around the world: "Feast" (deforestation), "Famine" (drought), "Fire" (forest fires), "Melting Ice" (glacier melt).
    • Free on Youtube VR
  17. Under a Cracked Sky - Dive with researchers under the ice in Antartica into some of the clearest water in the world and explore a hidden habitat.
    • Free on YouTube VR
Global Issues
  1. Ghost Fleet - The story of slavery in the Thai fishing industry, and one man's experience with it as he tries to escape and return to his home in Indonesia.
    • Free on YouTube VR
  2. Inside Xinjiang's Secret Detention Camps: Reeducated (New Yorker) - 360 animated documentary from the New Yorker of "Survival stories from three former prisoners who were detained in a Chinese “reëducation” camp."
  3. The Source - CharityWater produced this story of a 13 year-old girl from Ethopia. In ththe film Selam describes the difficulties she has getting water her family needs and the changes that come to her community when they get a source of clean water.
    • Free via YouTube VR
History/Historical Events
  1. Chernobyl VR Project - Visit the town of Pripyat and find out about its history. Visit locations in and around the reactor. Learn the stories of some of the people involved.
    • Free Oculus Rift app (PC Link Cable)
  2. Empire Soldiers: A South Asian Story – VR film that lets you experience the story of South Asian soldiers who participated in World War I
    • Free Oculus App (PC Link Cable)
  3. Greenwood Avenue: A VR Experience - This is a 180 degree video experience of the story of massacre in Tulsa in 1921 of three hundred African Americans. Told over 5 episodes, this scripted series follows a 14-year old girl living in the Greenwood district at the time of the massacre.
    • Free on YouTube VR
  4. Surviving 9/11 – Tells the story of 9/11 in 360 video and narration
    • Free on Meta Quest TV App
  5. The March 360 - Immersive film that lets you experience the 1963 march on Washington and listen to Dr. Martin Luther King's groundbreaking speech
    • Free on Meta Quest TV App
  6. MasterWorks: Journey through Time – Visit 4 archaeological sites (ancient ruins in Thailand, Incan temple, native cliff dwellings and Mount Rushmore), collect artifacts and work with archaeologists
    • Oculus App (PC Link Cable)
  7. MLK: Now is the Time - Interactive app that lets the user experience aspects of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech through powerful interactive scenarios. Some intense scenes.
    • Free Meta Quest App
  8. Plundering – VR experience about the theft of art and artifacts by the Nazis during WWII
    • Free Meta Quest App via app lab
  9. Lacan VR – Explore the artifacts in a prehistoric cave found in the South of France
    • Free Meta Quest app via Sidequest (sideload)
  10. Teleport Scotland – Travel to various historical and natural sites in Scotland
    • $9.99 Meta Quest app
  1. Becoming Homeless: A human Experience - interactive experience that put the user in the shoes of a person losing their home. The user interacts with the environment within the experience to attempt to save themselves from becoming homeless. This was presented to participants by  Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab to explore whether VR can be used to develop empathy.
    • Free via Steam VR (PC Link Cable)
  2. We Live Here – Explore the life of a woman named Rocky on the day police arrive to clear her park of the tent where she lives
    • Free Meta Quest App
  3. The Hidden – Travel on a raid to free a family enslaved in a rock quarry in India
    • Free via Meta Quest's "Within" App
  1. The Displaced - War has displaced millions of children around the world. this is the story of three of them.
    • Free via YouTube VR
  2. Clouds over Sidra – Join 12-year old Sidra as you visit her in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan that is her home, and the home of 130,000 Syrians fleeing war
    • Free via YouTube VR
  3. Home: Aamir – Journey with Aamir as he escapes Sudan and journeys across the Mediterranean and into Italy and France trying to find a home
    • Free via YouTube VR
  4. Fairness Works: Refugee Crisis - Short film that imagines the plight of refugees from a conflict in North America. Gives the viewer a first-person perspective of those refugees journey.
    • Free via YouTube VR
  5. Walking New York – The story of how New York artist JR creates a giant image of an immigrant man he meets and pastes it to a street within the city
    • Free via YouTube VR or the Within App
  1. Authentically Us: Voices from the Transgender Community - 3 separate episodes that tell stories of individual trans people's lives. Each episode focuses on a different person: A transgender person of color who works as a mechanic, a two-spirit artist and historian, a trans woman and trans-rights activist who served in the military.
    • Free VR videos for Meta Quest
  1. First Impressions: a virtual experience of the first year of life - 360 video | Guardian VR - Research-based recreation of the experience of being an infant. You view a family from the point of view of a newborn to learn about how a baby develops.
    • Free on YouTube VR
  2. Inside COVID 19 –Follow Dr. Josiah Child as he prepares for the pandemic and then as he himself becomes ill with Covid. Go deep inside his body to view how the disease progresses.
    • Free via YouTube VR
  3. Waves of Grace – Introduces you to the impact of the ebola epidemic from the perspective of a young woman in Liberia who survived it.
    • Free via YouTube VR
  4. Lockdown around the World – filmakers on 5 continents document the effects of the pandemic
    • Free via YouTube VR
  5. Talk to me – VR therapy tool allows you to assume the role of a person in therapy and then in the role of the therapist as you talk to yourself about your issues
    • Free Meta Quest App (Sidequest sideload)
  6. Wonderful You – VR experience of yourself as an unborn child in the womb
    • Free Oculus Rift App (PC Link Cable)
People and Places
  1. Notre Dame de Paris: Journey Back in Time - Take a virtual tour of the Notre Dame cathedral thanks to Ubisoft and the Assassin's Creed game engine
    • Free Oculus Rift App (PC Link Cable)
  2. Pompeii – Visit and walk through the ruins of Pompei
    • $3.99 Oculus App (PC Link Cable)
  3. Smithsonian Journeys: Venice – Tour of venice with narration, take a gondola ride, walking tour, glassblowing demonstration
    • Free Oculus Rift App (PC Link Cable)
  4. Google Earth VR
    • Free Oculus Rift App (PC Link Cable)
  5. Great Atchafalaya Basin - Tour the biggest river swamp in the United States at more than 1 million acres
    • Free via Vimeo (web)
  6. Wander - Uses Google Streetview data to let you virtually visit many locations around the globe; has multiplayer mode to let you journey with friends
    • $9.99 Meta Quest App
Personal Narrative - Ability/Disability
  1. Goliath - animates and visualizes the life of a man who spent years in institutions due to schizophrenia
    • Free Meta Quest App
  2. Notes on blindness - A man's personal audio diary of the years-long process of losing his sight is visualized to express the "cognitive and emotional experience" of blindness.
    • Free Meta Quest App
Personal Narrative - Historical
  1. The Book of Distance – A grandson narrates his grandfather's experiences immigrating to the Canada from Japan before and during WWII
    • Free Oculus Rift App (PC Link Cable)
  2. The Last Goodbye – "In his final return to Majdanek, Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter tours the concentration camp where his parents and twin sister were murdered during World War II."
    • Free Oculus Rift App (PC Link Cable)
  1. The Gerrymander Madness: The Anti-Democracy VR Game – VR game that dramatizes how gerrymandering undermines democracy. Players can "pack" and "crack" districts to disenfranchise Republicans or Democrats.
    • Free Oculus Rift App (PC Link Cable)
  2. The People's House - tour the White House with Michelle and Barack Obama
    • Free Oculus Rift App (PC Link Cable)
  1. The Marvelous Machine - This guided VR experience is an example of talk therapy. It takes the user on a journey through a machine and all its cogs while encouraging the user to be mindeful of the "inner workings of your mind and experience new perspectives."
    • Free via the Steam store (PC Link Cable)
  2. The Party: A Virtual Experience of Autism - First-person experience of a young girl with autism's perspective of what it is like to be at a party. Listen to her thoughts and feel how overwhelming this experience is for her.
    • Free via YouTube VR
  3. Psychotic Episode 360 - Tutorial for a caregiver on handling a patient undergoing a psychotic episode in a institutional setting. Video is one of a series of 360 tutorials created by College D'alma (Quebec) for training medical professionals.
    • Free via Youtube VR
Public Speaking
  1. VirtualSpeech - Practice public speaking in a variety of VR-enabled real-world scenarios. AI-enabled avatars and feedback support learning.
    • Free Meta Quest App; some platform fees may apply
  1. Traveling While Black – Sit with the patron's of historic Ben's Chili Bowl as they describe the steps black Americans had to take to travel safely under racial segregation
    • Free Meta Quest App
  2. Steps of Privilege – Interactive app that lets you explore the different types of privilege you experience. Users take steps forward or backward in response to questions and how they respond to them.
    • Free via Meta Quest App Lab (Sideload)
  1. Dear Angelica - Story of love and loss and of memories and how we deal with tragedy.
    • Free Meta Quest App
  2. Is Anna Ok? – VR documentary uses interactive 3D animation to tell the story of twins and the accident that changed their lives.
    • Free Oculus Rift App (PC Link Cable)
  3. The Key - An interactive story that takes the user through the dreams of a character named Anna. Find out the mystery behind Anna's story.
    • Free Meta Quest App
  4. Sweet Sorrow: Romeo and Juliet in VR – Be a virtual actor in a performance of Romeo and Juliet.
    • Free via Sidequest (sideload)
  1. Home after War – VR transports you to Fallujah where you join with a man and his family after they try to return to their home after fighting has subsided, and learn about the fears they still must overcome.
    • Free Meta Quest App
  2. Ann Frank House VR – Learn about and virtually tour the small apartment Ann Frank and her family hide in to avoid being sent to the concentration camps during WWII
    • Free Meta Quest App
  3. Berlin Wall: Virtually History - a series of three short 360 videos telling the story of the Berlin Wall at three different points in its history.
    1. Free via YouTube VR
  4. Children Do Not Play War - Immersive film that tells the story of a woman who was forced to be a child warrior in the conflict in Uganda.
    • Free via Meta Quest TV App
  5. Civil War 1864 – 360 Video recreation of the experience of soldiers fighting on a battlefield of the American civil war
    • Free via YouTube VR
  6. Hold at All Costs VR - The Seige of Bastogne --World War II documentary that tells the story the seige of Bastogne. Voices of veterans from the conflict accompany historical photos and videos on 360 vr scenes.  
    • Free via YouTube VR
  7. The Invasion of Normandy VR - Word War II documentary about the Allies D-Day invasion, told using 360 video, images overlayed with historical images and videos. The link before is to the full version.


  1. Kokoda VR - This series of 360 videos from the Australian Broadcasting Company tells the story of the Kokoda Track Campaign from World War II. These videos are a guided walk-through of the Kokodo VR application experience which is no longer available to play as an application, but can still be experienced on YouTube in 360 video.
  2. Omaha Beach VR D-Day - Documentary on the D-Day invasion told with 360 Video, voiceover, and embedded historical video and images.
    • Free via Youtube VR
  3. On the Morning You Wake (To the End of the World) – Experience the morning in 2018 when people in Hawai'i were told a nuclear missile was headed their way. Listen to - and see visualized - the lives of the people who thought their worlds were about to end.
    • Free Meta Quest App
  4. Remembering Pearl Harbor – LT. James Downing narrates this interactive retelling and VR visualization of the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese.
    • $9.99 via Steam VR (PC Link Cable)
  5. Perspectives: Paradise – Experience the detonation of the first hydrogen bomb by the U.S. on Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific ocean in 1953. See the explosion. Walk on the atoll. Meet people who live on the atoll today.
    • Free via Steam VR (PC Link Cable)
  6. 1943 Berlin Blitz – Experience a trip inside a WWII bomber flying from England as a part of the Berlin Blitz bombing raid. Hear audio from the actual raid from a journalist who flew with a crew.
    • Free Oculus Rift App (PC Link Cable)
  7. You Destroy We Create - Immersive film examines the impact of the war in Ukraine on the arts and artists within Ukraine. How do you protect an artistic heritage that is actively being destroyed?
    • Free film via Meta Quest TV App