Designing the future…

Hello, My name is Katie Vasey. I wrote the content for the designing futures MOOC (RMIT University) and am really amazed by your responses and enthusiasm. I am excited to see your responses, it makes it real for me to see your thoughts coming through.

Over the past decade+ I have worked as a medical anthropologist/ethnographer, which might not sound that relevant to design (I will come back to this in a minute)! For those of you who might not know what anthropologists/ethnographers do in the medical world — we explore questions of public health with diverse populations in different parts of the world.

In particular, we explore how a particular health related issue may impact upon a particular group from their perspective. I have worked a lot with refugee and migrant women on mental health and wellbeing, access to medical and health care; and inequality.

I am also interested in how ethnography is used in other fields — in business and in design thinking. What really excites me is how much human-centred design and ethnography align together, especially in the area of user experience and research.

Ethnography is a research method which allows us to embed ourselves (deeply) in or alongside a community and observe, take notes, and make insights into the way people live their daily lives, how they understand a particular issue, how they behave, and the kinds of barriers they may experience. Sound familiar? Yes, it has a lot of synergy with the way designers go about finding ways to understand people in order to design better products, services and infrastructure, and most importantly designing with the users themselves. And ethnography as a method is becoming more and more central to design thinking.

I am also interested in the way different cultures interact. Not just national and religious cultures, but also work and discipline cultures. So I’m keen to see what comes out of the course, because it houses people from a really diverse range of backgrounds. I’ll be looking for signs of this over the next few weeks and let you know what comes up.

I have also done some work in the area of ethnography and leadership, especially design leadership. One thing I’m hoping for in the course is to talk a bit about that as well. Concepts and practices of leadership are shifting and starting to share some of the elements of human centred design — collaboration, listening, inclusivity and is network based.

More soon Katie

Designing the Future

Master of Design Futures