ELIZABETH CHURCHILL, Chair
An EPIC2020 Sponsored Panel presented by Google
What does human scale mean through the lens of the environment? Alternatively, what does the scale of the Earth’s environment mean to human activity and life? We may start by thinking of the enormity of the problem to just describe these two perspectives. But, by stepping back and reframing our questions in terms of the tools we use—design, ethnography, AI, art—we gain a powerful and novel perspective.
Panelists discuss their work in terms of the world’s biggest threat, climate change. Approaching this topic from each one’s unique worldview and the tools of their practice, they follow out the scales of local to global and how small and seemingly one-off events can grow to a world scale. How do we design, provoke, educate—and ultimately change the world—by employing disparate data...
This tutorial examines ways ethnography is uniquely positioned to contribute to the design and innovation of environmentally sustainable (or even better than merely sustainable) products and services. It reviews several emerging design perspectives—such as circular design, regenerative design, systems-oriented design, and value-centered design—and explores ways that ethnographers in industry can use them their own practice and organizations to build sustainability considerations into their work. It is valuable for those who are relatively new to sustainability as well as those with deeper experience who are interested in expanding our collective impact toward more planet-friendly industries. The session covers:
Opportunity costs of doing design research “as usual”
Key perspectives and approaches for sustainable design and innovation
Baking sustainability perspectives into research
Ethnographic/anthropological theories and methods that can support a sustainability...
ALICIA DUDEK, Chair
Georgia Institute of Technology
SUSAN MOYLAN COOMBS
We invented our world at human height, with us in the middle. Much of our work is designed even more narrowly, with a particular kind of human at the middle. What happens when we go beyond the limited “user-centric” or “human-centric” scales? What does it look like, feel like, move like when humans are not in the middle of the system?
Alicia Dudek is an experienced design ethnographer and futurist. Her work brings the customer’s point of view and human voice to any group’s innovations and decisions. The work she does with teams brings empathy into the organisation to help inform, inspire, and initiate innovation. Central to her ability as a change agent is a capability to illuminate absences of customer understanding and to build powerful projects to rally teams and decision makers around their client’s needs. She is the founder of Mycoreality,...
Jump the Fence
PechaKucha Presentation—This PechaKucha gives a personal perspective on the ethical dilemmas around the impact of an individual's actions, and the meaning of an ethnographer's projects in the context of the scale where these play out.
The story begins with the spectacle of the 2020 Australian bushfires and reflects on their enormous scale. Within this context what is the meaning of individual actions to limit global warming?
The story shifts to the work context and explores the dichotomy of human impacts vs. the marketing metrics that typically measure success. Using an example of a research project with an overtly purposeful aim we explore the tension between ethnography as a tool for understanding the problem and the question of whether the scaled result truly addresses the end-users’ problem.
Returning to the bushfires, we again look at the scaled government response and the question of how successfully this met the needs of those impacted. We explore the...
More Things Considered
More Things Considered
Our tiny provocation is that the word “sustainability” is not sustainable. Just using it is sabotaging our efforts to build a better future for the planet. Despite decades of global sustainability discourse, the world is still going to hell. What's gone wrong? Our paper is about willful ignorance and complicity at a global scale; the benefits of small talk; and a better, more effective word than sustainability.
Article citation: 2020 EPIC Proceedings pp 300–321, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic...
EPIC2019 Panel, Providence, Rhode Island
DAN LOCKTON, Director of the Imaginaries Lab & Chair of Design Studies, Carnegie Mellon University
MAKALÉ FABER CULLEN, Urban Soils Fellow, Anthropocene, Urban Soils Institute
GYORGYI GALIK, Lead Advisor, Architecture and Built Environment Team, Design Council; Royal College of Art
MIKE YOUNGBLOOD, Principal, Youngblood Group
What are ethnographers’ roles in dealing with catastrophic climate crisis? Should we be exploring people’s experiences of change, trying to use our insights to help drive individual and collective action at scale through organizations, or helping civil society deal with the consequences? In this diverse set of presentations, panelists share ethnographic and design approaches to climate that engage communities, products, policy, artists, activists, and more. They examine tensions, responsibilities, and value that ethnographic practice can bring to one of the biggest issues for our collective futures....
CHRISTOPHER A. GOLIAS
The social and ecological challenges of the 21st century require a design research process that contributes to viable economic solutions. This paper proposes donut centered design as a hybrid of service design and ecological design that works within the donut economic model. It describes how private and public sector ethnographers can weld the best of these two processes by providing a holistic, empirical research foundation that seeks to provide distributed service innovation value to all within the limits of the planet. Donut-centered design addresses lacunae of the current innovation models by advocating multi-site assessments, multi-species ethnography, ecosocial blueprints and holistics metrics as important components of a regenerative design research practice....
Design Council & Royal College of Art
This paper describes an experiment, designed and developed with the ultimate aim of fostering low-pollution and low-carbon social innovation. It offers an evidence-based practical alternative to conventional, technological approaches and narratives of smart cities aimed at sensing air pollution and mitigating the effects of climate change.
In this experiment a new voice user interface is designed, developed and tested with input from participants – to explore the potential of a new, more socially minded adaptation to current AI assistant devices in the home and enhance the field of smart technology design. The experiment is developed with a group of participants to demonstrate how design research can raise novel questions and inform disciplines with an interest in behaviour change, environmental pollution and smart homes. This work demonstrates the potential for technologies to increase the degree of participation in reducing pollution in cities and facilitate the articulation...
UAM Cuajimalpa, México
UAM Cuajimalpa, México
Participatory mapping—the production of maps in a collective way—is a common activity used for planning and decision making in urban studies. It started as a way to empower men and women, usually from rural vulnerable communities threatened by climate change, degradation of their landfills or any other conflict related to access to their land. It has been considered a fundamental instrument to help marginal groups represent and communicate their needs within the territory and augment their capacity to protect their rights. (FIDA, 2011). Why is it that in some cases participatory mapping works and in others fails? Why do these initiatives not trigger local action? Or even end up being counterproductive, when authorities use the map made by locals, to validate their points, causing conflict instead of negotiation?
As a research team of designers and social scientists involved in the creation of participatory mapping workshops, our goal was to analyze...
by HANNAH KNOX, University College London
If it’s summer in your part of the world (or even if it’s winter), you’ve probably been feeling the heat. On 5 July, Ouargla, Algeria recorded 51.3°C (124.3°F), the highest temperature ever reported in Africa. A few days later, Areni, Armenia hit a record 42.6°C (108.7°F), and on 17 July, Badufuss in Norway topped its charts at 33.5°C (92.3°F). Perhaps most disturbing were reports of people collapsing in the fields in Japan, where high humidity exacerbated record-breaking temperatures of over 40°C (104°F). Japan declared a natural disaster, a designation normally reserved for earthquakes and tsunamis.1
“Something is going on” – people feel – “but what?”
Of course, climate scientists have been beating their drums for decades, pushing out papers, reports, and campaigns about the risks of anthropogenic climate change. But dramatic and even deadly weather events are, it turns out, rather effective at opening opportunities for speaking about climate change across...
How do you place a value on a perspective? Well, that depends on what you're seeking to accomplish. During this Pecha Kucha I journey of our current paradigm of Value to explore the role of the ethnographer in mediating business interests and human + planetary wellness. Outside of the metropolitan areas where can't afford to use an app to have someone come do their laundry, there lies an entire universe of perspectives that often go ignored, undervalued. What are the worldly consequences of excluding these perspectives when conducting business ethnography?
Taylor Ferrari, is an applied anthropologist and systems thinker who has conducted UX Research for companies ranging from early stage startups, to Fortune 500. Deeply interested in the relationship between Structure and Agency, Taylor seeks to illuminate the ways in which organizations or entities impact humanity, and likewise how humanity feeds the existence of organizations. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dana Sherwood is a New York–based artist whose work lies on the border of the domestic and the wild. Exposing the fact that nature exists everywhere, and highlighting multispecies interaction while forging new pathways of communication, Sherwood’s work underscores the blurring of boundaries between human and animal and the spaces we collectively inhabit.
With Lévi-Strauss as a muse, Sherwood’s interest in domestication and the design of nature through human interference and consumption is brought to the fore. The theme of “the manipulation of nature” is intrinsic to her work and food is a central metaphor as she examines and tames through elaborate creations of flour, sugar and eggs—sculptural displays modeled on 19th century though 1960s traditions, from Vanitas painting to Betty Crocker. The complexity of interpretation lies in the use of non-traditional materials and unconventional methodologies, which usually involve baroque confectionery and interventions by animals.
Learn more about...
by MICHAEL DONOVAN, Practica Group LLC
Sustainability & Ethnography in Business Series, Mike Youngblood, Editor
Place making offers us a largely untraveled pathway to thinking about sustainability. These two relatively high order concepts—'place making' and 'sustainability'—are conventionally located in separate domains of knowledge and ways of knowing. Place making is essentially the fluid filling in of geographic spaces with experience, social value, and meaning. It’s the kind of thing that cultural geographers, anthropologists, and historians are likely to ponder.
Sustainability is harder to corral. Leaving questions of perspective and authority aside for a moment, what are “we” trying to sustain? Species? The ecosystems in which such species thrive? Or the natural places—those culturally mediated spaces (forests, rivers, bays, coral reefs)—in which such “systems” are embedded? How about places at further remove from “nature” and the protective eye of naturalists and environmentalists—neighborhoods,...
Independent Researcher Download PDF
PechaKucha—The natural world is full of researchers – from the smallest of butterflies scoping out the perfect leaf to land on to the largest of elephants retracing the steps of their ancestors to find food and water. Every creature on earth is in a perpetual state of learning to adapt to the many changes of this world. This presentation will take viewers on one researcher’s personal journey into the emerging discipline of ‘biomimicry’ – through examples of how research is conducted in nature, and what we as researchers can learn from these insights to inspire our own.
Adina Daar is an independent researcher, ethnographer, and all-around ‘nature-nerd’. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Biomimicry from Arizona State University, and in 2016, was selected to participate in the Biomimicry Professional Program, a 2-year, global, multi-disciplinary leadership immersion course focused on facilitating the practice of learning from nature.
University of South Carolina
PechaKucha—This presentation explores the struggle of natural resource conservation within Iowa industrial agriculture through the issue of water quality. I discuss the politics of scientific information, specifically how different powerful players use science to achieve their goals. Science can both reveal and obscure the history of Iowa’s landscape, and history holds the key to understanding water quality problems. Finally, I describe what people are trying to do to bring industrial agriculture and prairie together to create a better system.
Keywords: Natural resource management, political ecology, agriculture
Brianna Farber is a doctoral candidate at the University of South Carolina finishing 14 months of fieldwork in Iowa. Her research interests include human-environment interactions, as well as the role of social science in collaborating with and informing natural science and technology.
2016 Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, p. 539, ISSN 1559-8918,