Design Anthropology

This is a thread for people to share information about design anthropology education & programmes; there is a growing area of interest.

For anyone who would like to consider moving from design into social science, there are a number of design anthropology related Masters programmes: at University College London (MA Culture, Materials & Design in anthropology), Aberdeen (MA Design Anthropology in the anthropology department), Swinburne (MDes Design Anthropology in the faculty of design), Dundee (Masters Design Ethnography in the computer science department).

There are also clearly a lot of design programmes which have an element of social science or anthropology, and a lot of research groups exploring it which make up good centres of expertise (eg. in Uni of Southern Denmark)

All these kinds of programmes vary in terms of whether they are wholly social science or design. Some have studio work and practice while others do not, and some can draw on a lot of design expertise and others on a lot of cultural expertose, depending on what kind of department or academic environment they are located in. There is also varying balance according to business content, with some ‘business anthropology’ programmes in the US being design-oriented. The above programmes are all pretty recent, having been set up since 2007.

I have to confess I’m involved in the UCL programme, and know a lot more about the growing European landscape than the US one. But I’m hoping people can post information about what else is available and make it more accessible, because it’s a developing area. Anyone who’s got any interest in design anthropology (& ethnography) should hopefully be able to post to the forum.


We include ethnographically based design in our industrial design program at the Pennsylvania College of Technology undergraduate ID program. Social sciences are an important adjunct in developing culturally appropriate designs!