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Anthropology, CID Announce Joint Design Ethnography Certificate

By: Cienna Madrid   Published 9:37 am / April 7, 2017

The Department of Anthropology and the College of Innovation and Design are pleased to announce the launch of a new, fully online 12-credit design ethnography certificate. Ethnography is the naturalistic observation and interaction between human beings, which can be used to inform design decisions within organizations. This unique transdisciplinary program is a liberal arts-originated bridge between students’ undergraduate passions and the application of disciplinary training to evolving cross-sector career opportunities.

From Fortune 500 companies to small consultancies, organizations are hiring liberal arts graduates because of their creativity, writing skills and critical thinking. The design ethnography certificate at Boise State adds to these skills with an experiential program in qualitative research methods.

The program uniquely prepares students for the workplace by preparing them to work with “insights” teams, “design research” teams and “strategic innovation” teams, etc.  While there are some similar “usability” and “user experience” (or UX) programs in the U.S., John Ziker, chair of the anthropology department, explained that many of those programs are offered through for-profit institutions. There currently are no other programs in the U.S. in design ethnography.

“In Europe and the U.S., these graduates are helping private and public sector entities in designing new services, products, organizations and strategies,” Ziker said. “People with this kind of training are ending up in companies, such as Google, Ebay and Amazon, as well as smaller consulting companies and public entities.”

In the certificate program, students learn ethnographic techniques as modified for industry in a team environment, apply ethical research principles grounded in the discipline of anthropology, and develop, document and present a project to solve a design problem. Capstone projects are reviewed by a practicing professional.

For more information about the certificate program, visit the CID website or anthropology department page.