North Carolina State University
Shea McManus is an assistant professor of anthropology at North Carolina State University. She is an applied cultural anthropologist whose work is focused on the integration of ethnographic practice, innovation and design.
Her wide-ranging collaboration with designers has led to the strategic development of a variety of products, including 3D printable prosthetics, gamified online learning portals and hydration systems for migrant farm workers. She has extensive international fieldwork experience in the Middle East and has published on issues of social and cultural change.
You Think You Know Ethnography? Ask an Anthropologist!
Designers realize that a deeper understanding of people can inform and inspire better designs. To gain insight into their users, many have turned to ethnography—a research strategy originally borrowed from anthropology. But are there still areas that designers could learn from anthropologists to elevate the quality and effectiveness of their research?
To find out, Tsai Lu Liu, IDSA, invited Shea McManus, an applied cultural anthropologist, to spend two semesters embedded in industrial design studio classes at NC State University, observing and assisting with the ethnographic research of the faculty and students.
Now, they will share how a more comprehensive approach to ethnographic research may lead designers to discover deep, meaningful patterns that could inspire impactful designs.