EGR 385/ANT 385: Ethnography and Wicked Problems

This course introduces students to approach problems ethnographically and develop service solutions. Security/privacy will be the problem space for the course. The course will cover multiple modes of ethnography, "inventive methods" that explore the intersection of design and interpretive social science. The course will provide a tool set for students interested in entrepreneurship, design thinking, as well as, new types of outcomes for research for those in the social sciences, and finally, a human-centered view on security.

This course will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30pm to 1:20pm. The lab portion of this course will take place Thursday from 1:30pm to 4:20pm.


Ken Anderson is on leave from Intel, where he has been innovating around the social-technical for the past 15 years. Ken was trained as an anthropologist and spends a good portion of his time in field research to observe, document, and analyze the rich tapestry of everyday life as the foundation for innovation. His scholarship draws together theories and methods from social sciences, humanities, and business practices to create experimental systems and services. He has developed "inventive" methods and run massive research and business experiments at the micro-meso-macro levels. At Intel, he has started up the first Energy Lab, provided the research basis for new Intel products, developed the foundation for a shift to data economy, and recently established the cross-company "5G Innovators Initiative." Currently, he is exploring technologies, transformational business opportunities, and cultural values around smart cities, civic participation industrial IoT, and intelligent agents. As our lives are increasingly digital-physical hybrids, it is more important than ever to understand the structures of everyday life to create human options for technology and business innovation.

Reading/Writing Assignments

The reading assignments consist of book chapters, journal articles and examples from websites. Reading is approximately 30 pages per class. There are two writing assignments: (1) a journal of reflections on readings and in-class exercises, and (2) a final 2000-word essay.


  • Paper in lieu of Final - 25%
  • Design Project - 35%
  • Papers - 15%
  • Class/Precept Participation - 25%

Prerequisites and Restrictions

There are no prerequisites.