Questioning Assumptions and Framing Cultural Inquiry When Designing for Host Communities - Michael Youngblood (Youngblood Research and Consulting)

Workshop objective:

Provide participants with new tools for investigating host community cultures and examine ways that cultural mis-assessment can get in the way of effective project design 

Topics and activities: 

  • Presentation covering the following topics
    • How anthropologists think about “culture”
    • Ethnocentrism and “culture bound” thinking
    • Tools for framing inquiry about another culture
    • Applying these tools during new project assessment, solution design, and implementation
  • Small group exercise
    • Break into small groups to critically examine a hypothetical community project and generate questions about the host community’s culture that could be important to project effectiveness
  • Report out and conclusions
    • Reconvene as a large group to hear quick reports from each group on their key conclusions

About Michael Youngblood

Mike Youngblood is an independent consultant working at the intersection of cultural anthropology and design.  In his consulting practice, he studies user interaction with products, interfaces, built environments, services, messages, and other “design artifacts” in order to identify new opportunities to create superior solutions.  His clients span a broad range of industries, including financial services, transportation, telecommunications, healthcare, and social services.  Prior to becoming a consultant, his primary focus was on rural community development and social mobilization in India. His scholarly work on this topic has received a number of awards and recognitions, including a Fulbright Fellowship, an American Institute of Indian Studies Fellowship, and the Robert Miller Prize for Innovation in Anthropological Research.  During the seven years that he lived in India, his work ranged from village-based ethnographic research, to serving as an outside observer for a human rights organization, to teaching cross-cultural research methodology to US college students studying abroad.  In addition to his experience in India, Mike has managed projects and conducted research in North Africa, Latin America, Europe, Greenland, China, and Korea.  Mike received his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and currently resides in New York City.