With user experience (UX) on the rise in industry, ethnography has become a hot term. Increasingly business leaders are asking for ethnographic research. As a result of this, many non-anthropologists have been asking me where they can participate in ethnographic research training courses. Since I have now been asked this a number of times, I figured I would suggest a couple of options for the UX and business community. But first, let’s take a quick look at what is ethnographic research.
What is Ethnographic Research
Ethnography is the study of people in their natural context via the use of research methods such as participant observation and face-to-face interviewing. It is important because so often what people say they do, is different than what they actually do Likewise, by conducting ethnographic research, we are able to get closer to the truth then if we simply used a research method such as a survey which relies on participants to self-report.
Ethnographic Research Training Courses
Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC)
My go-to response is the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC) website. EPIC promotes the use of ethnographic principles to create business value.
EPIC people work to ensure that innovation, strategies, processes, and products address business opportunities that are anchored in what matters to people in their everyday lives today and over time. EPIC people draw on tools and resources from the social sciences and humanities as well as Design Thinking, Agile, Lean Start-up and other approaches to realize value for corporations from understanding people and their practices.
As an organization EPIC strives to bring practitioners together as a community to create knowledge, share expertise, and expand opportunities. We are committed to the view that we are constantly learning and improving the ways that we achieve innovation and inform business strategy in a constantly changing world
The reason EPIC is my go-to is that it is the leading organization spearheading the process of bringing ethnography to business, but also because it is affordable and the courses are short. And though the courses may not teach you to be an anthropologist, they can certainly teach you how to carry out ethnography.
UNT Applied Anthropology Program
For those who wish to dive deeper than a short training course, I would suggest enrolling in the UNT Department of Anthropology to immerse yourself in the methods and theory of anthropology. While conducting ethnography is in itself valuable, being able to situate any findings within a theoretical lens will add depth to your work in such a way that your insights will be more relevant to the sociocultural context.
UNT offers an MA/MS in Applied Anthropology degree, both online and offline. While the main goal is to prepare students for employment outside academia, they will also be well qualified for transfer to a doctoral program. Students will be prepared to apply anthropological knowledge in private and public sectors, foundations, and businesses in local, regional, and international areas. The central goal of UNT’s Master in Applied Anthropology program is to provide graduates with the knowledge they will need to undertake informed and thoughtful action, whether as street-level practitioners, administrators, agency-based researchers, or program evaluators.
UNT is where I studied, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. While there I focused on business, technology, and design anthropology, and carried out my thesis research on Direct-to-Consumer Genomics.
For more information on the UNT Applied Anthropology program, click here.
Learn More About Ethnographic Research
Check out this post if you are interested in learning more about the history of ethnography in business, technology, and design.
If you would like to dive deeper from an academic perspective, check out these design anthropology articles.
Finally, check out this post if you want to learn about the amazing Tricia Wang and how she applies ethnography to big data to produce thick data.