The University of Nicosia (UNIC) announced the launch of the world’s first Master of Science (MSc) in Metaverse, promising a ground-breaking and interdisciplinary program built on the needs of creators, developers, architects, social scientists, financial professionals, policymakers, and individuals interested in shaping the future of the metaverse. Considering, the University’s history in cutting-edge technology education, TechvangArt was curious to find out more about the MSc in Metaverse, so we talked with Prof. George Giaglis – Executive Director at the Institute For the Future (IFF) of the University of Nicosia (UNIC) as well as one of the first academics to research and teach on the blockchain.
TVA: How did the idea of launching a Metaverse program in the university come about?
Prof. George Giaglis, Executive Director of IFF, UNIC: The idea to launch a Metaverse program at the University of Nicosia stemmed from recognizing the growing impact of the Metaverse on various aspects of society, business, and technology. The university has always been at the forefront of embracing emergent technologies, as witnessed with our pioneering courses in blockchain and digital currency (we have been running the world’s largest online academic program in crypto since 2013). The creation of a Metaverse-specific program is a natural extension of our commitment to preparing our students for the future.
TVA: Can you please provide an overview of the first Metaverse programme study being conducted at the university?
Prof. George Giaglis, Executive Director of IFF, UNIC: The MSc in Metaverse covers a broad spectrum of topics that encapsulate the Metaverse, from the underlying technology and infrastructure to design principles, economic systems, social implications, and more. Students will explore both theoretical and practical elements, including virtual worlds’ creation, augmented reality (AR) integration, and the ethical considerations that come with immersive virtual spaces.
TVA: Is this program interdisciplinary in nature? If yes, which disciplines are involved and how do they contribute to the study of Metaverse?
Prof. George Giaglis, Executive Director of IFF, UNIC: Absolutely. Understanding the Metaverse requires a synthesis of various disciplines. Key among these are:
Computer Science: For building the infrastructure, virtual worlds, and understanding the technological underpinnings.
Design: Covering the principles of creating engaging and usable virtual environments.
Economics: As the Metaverse has its own emerging economies, understanding virtual currencies and trade is essential.
Sociology & Psychology: To study the social implications and understand user behavior in virtual spaces.
Law: Addressing the legal implications, rights, and digital property considerations within the Metaverse.
TVA: Are there any industry collaborations or partnerships that the program has established to provide students with real-world exposure and opportunities?
Prof. George Giaglis, Executive Director of IFF, UNIC: We are forging partnerships with several key players in the Metaverse space, from virtual reality hardware manufacturers to Metaverse platform providers. These collaborations provide our students with internship opportunities, real-world projects, and a chance to network with industry leaders. The first course in the program is co-taught with Punk 6529, a pseudonymous visionary thinker in the Web3 space, who has co-created his own virtual world (OM, for Open Metaverse), in which the University of Nicosia is building a virtual campus.
TVA: What are some potential career paths or job prospects that students can explore after completing this program?
Prof. George Giaglis, Executive Director of IFF, UNIC: Graduates from our program could explore various roles, including Metaverse Architect or Developer, AR/VR Application Developer, Digital Economy Strategist, Digital Rights Policy Advocate, User Experience Designer for virtual environments, and more.
TVA: How do you envision the future of the Metaverse impacting various industries such as gaming, entertainment, education, etc?
Prof. George Giaglis, Executive Director of IFF, UNIC: The Metaverse will profoundly impact multiple sectors. In gaming, it will create more immersive experiences and persistent virtual worlds, where players will for the first time truly own their in-game artifacts, but maybe also fully programmable on-chain game logic. For entertainment, it will offer new forms of media consumption and participatory experiences, some of them built by high tech Web2 companies, some others crowdsourced from independent creators. In education, virtual classrooms and experiential learning can revolutionize the way we understand and interact with information – the University of Nicosia is actively researching the future of immersive learning in virtual worlds.
TVA: What technological advancements are necessary for the Metaverse to reach its full potential in terms of seamless integration, user experience, and widespread adoption?
Prof. George Giaglis, Executive Director of IFF, UNIC: We will definitely need more advanced and affordable AR/VR hardware before we see mass adoption of virtual worlds and mixed reality applications. Improvements in connectivity, potentially leveraging 5-6G technologies, are also probably going to boost adoption. Next-generation blockchain-based applications, too, including decentralized and secure identity management systems.
At the level of the economy, more research is needed to understand and design robust digital economies, especially with interoperability between different virtual spaces and with the “real” world.
Finally, I see quite a few possibilities to seamless integration of AI to enhance user experience and content generation, especially for worlds that include NPCs (non-player characters).
TVA: How will the implementation of the Metaverse influence social interactions, communication, and overall human connectivity?
Prof. George Giaglis, Executive Director of IFF, UNIC: The Metaverse holds the potential to redefine human interaction. It can bridge geographical gaps, allowing for more immersive and meaningful connections. However, it also raises concerns about digital addiction, privacy, and the dilution of real-world experiences. As with any technological advancement, a balance must be struck to ensure that it augments rather than diminishes the human experience.
Our program delves deep into these aspects, ensuring that our graduates are not just technically proficient but also ethically and socially aware Metaverse leaders.
About the University of Nicosia
The University of Nicosia is the largest university in Cyprus, renowned for its pioneering efforts in blockchain and cryptocurrency education since 2013, when it launched the world’s first academic cryptocurrency course. UNIC also launched the world’s first specialized degree programme, MSc in Blockchain and Digital Currency, in 2014. Since then, UNIC has educated over 100,000 students from 120+ countries in academic and professional training courses focused on cryptocurrency, blockchains and Web3.