International Women’s Day op ed on virtual reality for a just and real-world reality

Illustration by Nikki Muller, New Thinking Magazine

International Women’s Day 2023 On #InternationalWomensDay, Lien Tran published an op ed in New Thinking Magazine entitled “Leveraging Tech to Address Gender-Based Violence Impactfully” on how emerging tech, including the VR simulation “A Just Reality” project, can fill a major gap in essential skills training for law enforcement who respond to and investigate sexual assault & domestic… Continue reading International Women’s Day op ed on virtual reality for a just and real-world reality

Emerging technology’s role for telling critical Asian American history

Photo by Red Morley Hewitt

Professor Lien Tran is part of DePaul University’s 2022-23 The OpEd Project’s Public Voices fellowship. Professor Tran’s first op ed entitled “Lunar New Year Offers a Chance to Reflect on Asian American History“, was published in VISIBLE magazine ahead of Lunar New Year on January 22, 2023. In this op ed, Tran shares examples for how… Continue reading Emerging technology’s role for telling critical Asian American history

Matters at Play collaborated with several subject matter stakeholders on the creation of Poor Not Guilty: Fines and Fees Challenge, including the National Homelessness Law Center (NHLC). The challenge is now available on the NHLC’s website along with a suggested Street Law lesson plan.

Did You Know fact provided within one of the 3 Fines and Fees Challenge scenarios referencing NHLC’s #IAskForHelpBecause campaign

The Fines & Fees Challenge is an interactive educational tool based on a series of real-life experiences that highlight how fines and fees for petty offenses create impossible situations for those experiencing poverty and/or homelessness. Each scenario asks the player to make a series of choices in response to an inciting circumstance with the goal of escaping the cycle that financial punishment systems trap them in. To varying degrees throughout the U.S., cities and states impose heavy fines for minor offenses at every stage of the criminal justice system. Millions of Americans get trapped in a cycle of punishment simply because they can’t afford to pay these fines and fees. Without any means of escape from a system designed to punish poverty, many Americans lose their jobs, homes, and even their children. Almost every state has laws that punish and fine people experiencing homelessness for engaging in necessary activities, such as sleeping or sitting in public. These types of policies criminalize homelessness and fail to address its root causes, like the lack of access to affordable and adequate housing.

Partnering organizations on the Poor Not Guilty: Fines & Fees Challenge

About the NHLC

The National Homelessness Law Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., and seeks to serve as the legal arm of the national movement to end and prevent homelessness. We believe that the human rights to adequate housing, healthcare, food, and education lie at the heart of human dignity and we envision a world where no one has to go without the basics of human survival. 

For more on the NHLC, please visit

Matters at Play’s Lien Tran will be joining a seasoned panel of international retired and active members of law enforcement to discuss how we need to rethink training when it comes to gender-based violence (GBV) at the 2022 Gender Justice and Human Rights Symposium at the University of Miami from April 21-22, 2022. Lien joins the panel to share a social innovation project that a team from DePaul has been researching and developing since the latter part of 2021.

DePaul University’s Matters at Play lab and PUSH Studio have joined together to explore how technology and social innovation could enhance law enforcement response to GBV. Through design research including stakeholder interviews, our team has identified the opportunity to improve interview techniques for law enforcement so that through simulated interviewing of a victim they learn best practices that are trauma-informed and victim-centered.

Lien will share her perspective, as a designer of interactive and transformational experiences, for how timely it is to innovate and take advantage of technological advances to enhance the education of law enforcement for the essential skills like communicating with and interviewing sexual assault victims, and investigating serious crimes like GBV.

Lien will be joined by team member Brighten Jelke in providing demonstrations of the prototype to interested symposium attendees during the Friday afternoon break out sessions.

The project builds upon Lien’s previous course collaboration with University of Miami’s School of Law’s Human Right’s Clinic (UMHRC) on its COURAGE in Policing Project employing human-centered design methods to research and propose possible solutions for reducing bias in policing of GBV.

About the Panel

Title: Rethinking Training for Law Enforcement

ModeratorBianca Joseph, International Association of Women Police (IAWP) Region 5 Coordinator Senior Police Officer, Member of the IAWP Board of Directors


Deborah Friedl, IAWP President
David Thomas, Program Manager, International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
Mirko Fernandez, Project Coordinator, UN Women Consultant & Jane Townsley, Senior Police Advisor, UN Women Consultant
Novelette Grant, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Retired), Jamaica Constabulary Force/UN Women Consultant, Spotlight Initiative
Lien Tran, Assistant Professor, DePaul University School of Design

UM Law’s HRC challenges you to “Buckle Up”

Click here to play the ‘Buckle Up’ #PoorNotGuilty Challenge to learn more about how minor traffic violations perpetuate the cycle of poverty in the U.S.: @FinesandFeesJC @LienT @EricTars — UM Law Human Rights (@UMLawHRC) October 1, 2021 M@P was fortunate to collaborate with a dedicated team of human rights advocates and legal experts… Continue reading UM Law’s HRC challenges you to “Buckle Up”