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Organizations & Associations for Design Anthropologists

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For new practitioners of design anthropology, networking and mentorship is key to developing as a design anthropologist looking to apply ethnographic methods to solve design and business challenges. If you fit into that bucket, considering joining the following anthropology organizations and associations, and going to the yearly conferences. By participating in these communities, your knowledge of ethnographic theory and methods will help you blossom in the design anthropologist you wish to become.

EPIC: Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference

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.

EPIC is driven by volunteers and supported by members and sponsors. We are a dynamic group of practitioners and scholars from technology corporations, product and service companies, a range of consultancies, universities and design schools, government and NGOs, and research institutes.

EPIC fosters interaction year-round online and at events, like our annual conference—the premier international meeting on the current and future practice of ethnography and design in the business world. We work to enable conversations and make a range of professional resources available to the community.

Check out the EPIC website to learn more.

SfAA: The Society for Applied Anthropology

The Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) was founded in 1941 to promote the investigation of the principles of human behavior and the application of these principles to contemporary issues and problems. Since that time membership has expanded to over 2,000. The Society now sponsors two major journals (Human Organization and Practicing Anthropology) as well as a Monograph Series and occasional special publications.

The Society has become the preeminent international organization in the field. The Society is unique among professional associations. In membership and purpose, it represents the interests of professionals in a wide range of work settings — academia, business, law, health and medicine, public and government, etc. Members come from a variety of disciplines — anthropology, sociology, economics, business, planning, medicine, nursing, law, and other related social/behavioral sciences. The unifying factor is a commitment to the mission of our association – professionals from a variety of backgrounds who are making an impact on the quality of life in the world today.

Check out the SfAA website to learn more.

NAPA: The National Association for the Practice of Anthropology

National Association for the Practice of Anthropology was founded in 1983 to promote the practice of anthropology and the interests of practicing anthropologists, and to further the practice of anthropology as a profession.

NAPA strives to promote the practice of anthropology, both within the discipline and among private, public, and nonprofit organizations. NAPA continues to grow as anthropologists engaged in practice have developed broader professional opportunities both inside and outside the academic realm. There are currently around 500 NAPA members, working in a diverse range of sectors and positions. Members receive NAPA’s semi-annual “Annals of Anthropological Practice,” professional mentoring, networking opportunities, and discounts on NAPA-sponsored workshops. Select the “Archives” link above to find out even more about NAPA’s history. NAPA is a section of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), and NAPA members receive all AAA materials and benefits. This is your gateway to learning about NAPA. The resources on this website, some of which are under development, will help you to get more involved in NAPA, or to simply understand more about the association.

Check out the NAPA website to learn more.

Business Anthropology

The Business Anthropology website is a venue for sharing knowledge and resources, making connections, and advancing careers and education in business anthropology. ​​ While this site champions business anthropology, it is not a site to conduct personal business. Mine, share, connect, and contribute, but please do not solicit business. The mission is to enlarge the discussion on the value of business anthropology intellectually and practically to current and aspiring practitioners, scholars, and employers. To accomplish this, they are sharing business anthropology scholarship and ideas for educating business anthropologists

Check out the Business Anthropology website to learn more.

AAA: American Anthropological Association

The American Anthropological Association is the world’s largest association for professional anthropologists, with more than 10,000 members. Based in Washington, D.C., the Association was founded in 1902, and covers all four main fields of anthropology (cultural anthropology, biological/physical anthropology, archaeology, and linguistic anthropology).

While 75% of our members are employed in higher education or are students of anthropology, about 25% of our members work in the public, private, and non-governmental sectors, beyond the academy. The Association is organized into 40 sections, each reflecting specialized domains of knowledge. We publish a portfolio of 22 journals, offer career planning and professional development services, support college and university departments, award numerous prizes and fellowships, sponsor a paid summer internship program, a summer field school in ethnography and occupational therapy, and stage research conferences in the Fall and Spring each year. We also have a public education initiative that highlights the contributions made by anthropological research to important and enduring topics such as race and migration.

The Association is proud to belong to a number of inter-organizational collaborations, including the World Council of Anthropological Associations, the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, the Consortium of Social Science Associations, the National Humanities Alliance, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Learn More About Design Anthropology

To find out more about the benefits of bringing anthropology and design together to solve the toughest problems in business, check these links out on design anthropologyusing contextual inquiry for design research and getting user experience (UX) adopted by leadership in a corporate environment.


Also published on Medium.

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