Mike Youngblood
Instructor: Mike Youngblood (Youngblood Group)

Saturday, 9 November, 1:00–4:00pm
College Building Room 410, 2 College Street–map
25 participants, fee: $100
Pre-registration required: HOW TO REGISTER


This tutorial explores the theory and practice of observation as a field research method for human-centered design and innovation. Building on the instructor’s observation tutorials at EPIC2017 and 2018, this year’s tutorial will involve much more hands-on fieldwork practice with an observational focus on behaviors and artifacts related to human agency. This tutorial will be valuable for those who are new to observation as well as more seasoned observers seeking an effective toolkit they can use to train others. The tutorial will cover:

  • 4 core techniques for conducting observational research in a wide range of settings
  • basic observational data collection and effective note taking
  • selecting the right tools and methods
  • ethical considerations related to observing others
  • defining research questions for observation
  • team research planning and debriefing

Prior to meeting in Providence, attendees will watch an online video of Mike’s previous EPIC observational research tutorial. This video will lay down the foundation for this tutorial, introducing four fundamental techniques supported by real-life examples from Mike’s own research in homes, bars, restaurants, car dealerships, urban neighborhoods, medical facilities, and more.

In Providence, we will briefly review key aspects of the introductory video, begin practicing the core techniques by observing original video footage of a variety of human settings, then breaking into small teams to spend the bulk of the tutorial doing field observation and analysis in public spaces on and around the RISD campus.

Participants will take away a toolkit of observational techniques that can be used to gain quick insight into a human experience or add rich observational depth to interviews and other qualitative methods.



Mike Youngblood, PhD, is a cultural anthropologist working at the nexus of social science and human-centered design. He has worked with for-profit and not-for-profit clients around the world in a wide range of industries, including financial services, transportation, telecommunications, food and nutrition, education, healthcare, and social services. Mike is a frequent speaker in the fields of anthropology and design and has taught at the School for International Training, Maryland Institute College of Art, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University. His recent book is Cultivating Community: Interest, Identity, and Ambiguity in an Indian Social Mobilization and he is editor of the series Sustainability and Ethnography in Business Series on the EPIC blog Perspectives.

How to Register

Tutorials are optional sessions open to all EPIC2019 attendees on a first-come, first-served basis. No on-site registration. To add a Tutorial to your EPIC2019 agenda, log into your EPIC account and modify your conference registration. Questions? registration@epicpeople.org

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