inequality

Let’s Shift Power Together! An EPIC Co-Creation Activity

To shift power in a complex system, try these power-shift techniques with power holders in different layers of the system
CHELSEA MAULDIN Public Policy Lab NATALIA RADYWYL Today This wildcard session was a conference-wide co-creation activity. Together, EPIC attendees reflected on the dynamic relationship between resilience and power. Then, through a facilitated, real-time activity, we collectively generated an actionable power-redistribution framework—a set of strategies for EPIC members to embed social resilience in their work, whether at a major tech or consumer firm, a government agency, or a consultancy. A designed artifact that captures this framework was produced and distributed to the community. Citation: 2022 EPIC Proceedings pp. 338–344, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic...

Tutorial: Power Tools for Equity in Research & Design

Tutorial: Power Tools for Equity in Research & Design
This tutorial gives you and your teams robust, actionable tools for navigating inequity and shifting power hierarchies, from project planning to implementation. Instructors: CHELSEA MAULDIN, Executive Director, Public Policy Lab & NATALIA RADYWYL, Head of Research & Capability, Today Design Overview This video has been edited to protect the privacy of participants in the live tutorial. To do ethical, equitable work in any domain, we need robust tools for assessing and addressing power. Whether we’re creating products, services, or policies, inequities can create direct and indirect risks for research participants and underserved populations. This tutorial gives you robust, actionable tools for navigating inequity through a project life cycle, including planning, research, design, and implementation. You will: Identify power dynamics in research and design projects Learn frameworks and tools to navigate power dynamics through a project lifecycle Learn power-based assessments to use with individuals...

Against Resiliency: An Ethnographic Manifesto

Lauren Rhodes and Jillian Powers speaking together on stage at EPIC2022
LAUREN MONSEIN RHODES Cisco JILLIAN POWERS JP Morgan Chase Using ethnography as an analytic tool to examine the concept of resiliency, we call for a shift in our practice and praxis. Research subjects and ethnographic practitioners are tired of working against and thriving despite. We are tired of being seen as resilient in a world that demands so much from us and only values our contributions if they align with dominant views and world systems. We are tired of being relied upon to provide answers and solutions to the issues presented in front of us. In this manifesto, we demonstrate and argue that resilience, as a category of human agency, shifts responsibility to the person being resilient and away from the systemic problems that created the need to be resilient in the first place. By reifying resilience in our research and our findings, we celebrate survival despite the psychic and somatic labor and toll on resilient actors. As practitioners, we are drained by being and witnessing resilience. As ethnographers who work, we...

Amplifying Resilient Communities: Identifying Resilient Community Practices to Better Inform Health System Design

Diagram called "Strands of Health." Six strands of different colors are wound together, then unravel. The strands are labled: Environmental Health; Social Health; Physical Health; Emotional Health; Financial Health; Spiritual Health
ROMIT RAJ Quicksand Design Studio BABITHA GEORGE Quicksand Design Studio CRISTIN MARONA Matchboxology REBECCA WEST Ipsos ANABEL GOMEZ Independent Technical Advisor TRACY PILAR JOHNSON The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ADITYA PRAKASH Quicksand Design Studio SUNNY SHARMA Ipsos AYUSHI BIYANI Quicksand Design Studio MRITTIKA BARUA James P Grant School of Public health, BRAC University CAL BRUNS Matchboxology Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an inflection point, bringing heightened awareness around the preparedness and resilience of public health systems in dealing with severe shocks. While the pandemic has accentuated the existing weakness in public health systems, for many, especially those belonging to marginalized sections of society, seeking healthcare has always been fraught with severe challenges and frictions. This paper presents the findings from a two-year design research project conducted in South Africa and Bangladesh, which studied the challenges faced by health seekers, especially those...

Beyond Representation: Using Infrastructure Studies to Reframe Ethnographic Agendas and Outcomes

Still image of Karl Mendonca presenting at EPIC2022
KARL MENDONCA Google The ethos and methods of participatory research have been widely embraced as a powerful approach to address systemic inequity in the design of technology. While there have been many gains and developments that merit celebration, an unspoken, prevalent assumption is that inclusive forms of engagement will unequivocally result in a more inclusive product. Using the case study of an ethnographic project, this paper critically examines how the task of producing “better” (more ethical, more participatory, more statistically diverse) representations, had the unintended consequence of displacing structural outcomes to questions of aesthetics and statistical sampling. An investigation into the cause of this displacement reveals the resilience of deeper historical biases that persist from the early years of electronic computing. As a possible remedial framework, this paper introduces the field of infrastructure studies, which makes an explicit connection between the material, historical and semiotic dimensions...

Redesigning the Social Safety Net

Redesigning the Social Safety Net
Moderator: NADINE LEVIN, City of San Francisco Panelists: MORGAN G. AMES, University of California, Berkeley; , Monumental; MITHULA NAIK, Canadian Digital Service The past two years have laid bare that we inhabit a world with enormous and increasing inequality. We've also seen a decreasing level of faith in public programs and institutions to provide quality health care and education or even fair access elections. And the very systems designed for the betterment of all are often siloed and ineffective. This session comes at a time when policy and regulations affecting social safety net benefits are more in flux than usual in many countries. Using the tools of data, design, activism, technology, and innovation, these panelists have led an ethnography-forward approach to reimagining these systems and move toward safety nets that work for all. Panelists Nadine Levin, PhD, is an anthropologist, Rhodes Scholar, and UX researcher who focuses on improving equitable access to technology. After several years of academic research...

Exiting the Road to Hell: How We Reclaim Agency & Responsibility in Our Fights for Justice

Exiting the Road to Hell
Keynote Speaker: PANTHEA LEE, Reboot Panthea Lee is a strategist, organizer, designer, and facilitator, and the Executive Director of Reboot. She is passionate about building transformative coalitions between communities, activists, movements, and institutions to tackle structural inequity—and working with artists to realize courageous social change. Panthea is a pioneer in designing and guiding multi-stakeholder processes to address complex social challenges, with experience doing so in 30+ countries with partners including UNDP, MacArthur Foundation, Luminate, CIVICUS, Wikimedia, Women’s Refugee Commission, and governments and civil society groups at the national, state, and local levels. The global co-creation efforts she’s led have launched new efforts to protect human rights defenders, tackle public corruption, strengthen participatory democracy, advance equity in knowledge access, reform international agencies, and drive media innovation. Panthea began her career as a journalist, ethnographer, and cultural...

We Have Always Dreamed of (Afro)futures: Notes beyond the Dark Fantastic

We Have Always Dreamed of (Afro)futures
Keynote Speaker: EBONY THOMAS, University of Michigan Ebony Elizabeth Thomas is Associate Professor in Educational Studies at the University of Michigan. She studies how people of color are portrayed, or not portrayed, in children’s and young adult literature, and how those portrayals shape our culture. As children’s and young adult literary empires continue to dominate publishing and Hollywood, she strongly believes that the field has the potential to become one of the most effective postcolonial, critical, and activist projects of all. A former Detroit Public Schools teacher and National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Thomas was a member of the NCTE Cultivating New Voices Among Scholars of Color’s 2008–2010 cohort, served on the NCTE Conference on English Education's Executive Committee from 2013 until 2017, and is the immediate past chair of the NCTE Standing Committee on Research. She is co-editor of Research in the Teaching of English, and her most recent book is The Dark Fantastic:...

Designing Virtual Primary Care: Desire or Dread? How Structural Forces Shape the Anticipation of Futures

MARIE MIKA GRH+DOD* ARVIND VENKATARAMANI SonicRim The COVID-19 pandemic changed many healthcare companies' priorities and dramatically accelerated the drive towards increasingly virtual health care. Grand Rounds Health*, a healthcare startup, decided the time is now to launch its virtual primary care offering. It was assumed that a rural, lower-socioeconomic population would be more eager for, and best served by, virtual primary care, given their greater geographic distance from clinicians and other assumed access deficits. However, ethnographic research revealed that it was the urban, higher-socioeconomic population who both reported far more favorable experiences with remote care and more eager anticipation of virtual primary care. This is partly due to different technological experiences and ecosystems, but more directly due to differing trust in and agency with institutionalized health care. Ultimately, this case study reminds researchers that our experiences are shaped and limited by our social positions, and that we cannot...

Tutorial: Power Tools for Equity in Research & Design

Power Tools for Equity in Research & Design
Instructors: CHELSEA MAULDIN (Executive Director, Public Policy Lab) & NATALIA RADYWYL (Research Director, Public Policy Lab) This tutorial gives you robust, actionable tools for navigating inequity through a project life cycle. Overview This tutorial was conducted at EPIC2021. Exercises and discussions have been omitted to protect the privacy of participants. To do ethical, equitable work in any domain, we need robust tools for assessing and addressing power. Whether we’re creating products, services, or policies, inequities can create direct and indirect risks for research participants and underserved populations. This tutorial gives you robust, actionable tools for navigating inequity through a project life cycle. Public Policy Lab developed Power Tools over many years of innovative and effective work with at-risk communities. Across planning, research, design, and implementation, the instructors will teach you how to use Power Tools to check biases, inform theories of change and logic models, identify effective...

A Fantastic Everyday Puzzle: Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’ Dark Fantastic Cycle

“Myth-making may be dangerous indeed for those of us who play in the dark… but let’s play anyway.” EBONY ELIZABETH THOMAS
a book review by VERONICA KIM HOTTON As we anticipate EPIC2021—yes, bring on the puns—I had the spectacular task of studying The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas. My goal was to find small ways to spark our EPIC community's curiosity ahead of her EPIC keynote. As a regular audiobook listener, I listened to the voice of Janina Edwards bring Ebony Thomas’ work from the page to my ears, and if you are looking to add an audiobook to your virtual shelf, it’s a fantastic audiobook; you should not hesitate. I also have the paper book and it is a wonder to hold. Because Ebony weaves in autoethnographic storytelling throughout her book, my personal experiences were what first drew me to this work. We both grew up in Michigan. Ebony was in Detroit and I was a white girl in one of the many suburbs spawned by White Flight. We are Generation X with “the holy trinity of our mid-1980s children’s films [being] The Neverending Story, The Dark Crystal, and—my favorite...

Considering the Futures of Ethnography for Social Change: An Interview with Panthea Lee

Panthea Lee: As ethnographers we can guide conversations and support conflict mediation in ways that do not just further entrench people in their positions.
By VICTORIA LOWERSON BREDOW and CONNIE MCGUIRE, Research Justice Shop "As ethnographers we can guide conversations and support conflict mediation in ways that do not just further entrench people in their positions." —Panthea Lee In August 2021, we connected with EPIC2021 keynote speaker Panthea Lee—strategist, organizer, designer, and facilitator, and Executive Director of Reboot. Panthea is a pioneer in designing and guiding multi-stakeholder processes to address complex social challenges, with experience in 30+ countries with partners including UNDP, MacArthur Foundation, Luminate, CIVICUS, Wikimedia, Women’s Refugee Commission, and governments and civil society groups at the national, state, and local levels. We were excited to get to know Panthea, learn about her work, and now, share our conversation1 with the EPIC community in advance of her talk. How did you come to do the work you do now? —Victoria I am from Taiwan. My family lived there during one of the longest periods of martial law in the world, 38 years. I think...

Watch Party—Design & White Supremacy Culture

by Hello to the global EPIC Community! I’m the new community manager for Ethnography Hangout Slack, a space to discuss applied ethnography created by EPIC, Anthrodesign, and Ethnography Matters. I’m excited to energize even more engagement and inspire you to develop valuable connections and conversations there. To kick that off, I hope you’ll join our…

Design & White Supremacy Culture: A Call and Response

AUTUMN SANDERS FOSTER, Chair Quire Consulting NANCY DOUYON Douyon Signature Labs ANGELA GIST-MACKEY University of Kansas WILLIAM LEZ HENRY University of West London MELINDA WEEKES-LAIDLOW Weekes in Advance Enterprises Within the growing global discourse around race, whiteness, and racial injustice lies a call to address the ways systemic racism and normalized whiteness continue to shape our work. Many organizations have issued formal statements but struggle to identify and implement meaningful next steps. Through this panel, we will discuss how change works in concert with or opposition to dominant norms, values, and culture in our research and our organizations. Panelists Autumn Sanders Foster has worked with Fortune 500 companies, start-ups and non-profits, helping them grow their businesses by understanding their customers. She launched Quire Consulting in 2017 to provide clients access to qualitative research and design strategy that brings real people into the center of the design process. She leads...

Post-Human Centered

ALICIA DUDEK, Chair Mycoreality IAN BOGOS Georgia Institute of Technology SUSAN MOYLAN COOMBS Gaimaragal Group TRICIA WANG Sudden Compass 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? Panelists 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,...