PEOPLE project at the Emerging Technologies Lab in Melbourne
The PEOPLE project was recently part of the Digital Design Ethnography: Technologies, People and Futures event in Melbourne. The event was organised by the Emerging Technologies Lab at Monash University, which investigates an emerging technological environment where automation, artificial intelligence, data and the questions of ethics, responsibility and user experience and engagement that they bring with them are increasingly central. The lab is led by Prof. Sarah Pink, a world leading Design Anthropologist, known for her development of innovative digital, visual and sensory research and dissemination methodologies, which she engages in interdisciplinary projects with design, engineering and creative practice disciplines to engage with contemporary issues and challenges.
The Digital Design Ethnography event brought together researchers from Australia and EU, presenting and discussing new interdisciplinary research methodologies and fields of practice developed for understanding the design and use of digital and emerging technologies, as well as new modes of academic-industry collaboration that are growing in this dynamic interdisciplinary field of scholarship, research and practice.
The speakers were Deborah Lupton from the University of New South Wales, who presented an overview of the developments in design sociology, while Sarah Pink (Monash University) introduced design anthropology. Vaike Fors (Halmstad University), Robert Broström (Volvo Cars and Halmstad University), and Annie Rydström (Volvo Cars) presented the ethnographic approaches in collaborative industry-university projects on self-driving cars. PEOPLE team member Dan Podjed (ZRC SAZU) talked about his experiences in interdisciplinary research and development teams, presented the Why the World Needs Anthropologists symposium, and his “recipes” for enhancing cooperation and bridging between anthropology and industry.
The PEOPLE project was presented by PEOPLE team member Sara Arko (Metronik), focusing on the relevance of interdisciplinary learning and teaching approach developed within the project’s Learning Cycles. She talked about the people-centred development approaches, used by the PEOPLE student teams in all four participating countries, and then focused on the research process and findings of the Slovenian 1st Learning cycle case study, underlining the value of anthropological approaches in the field of building automation and energy efficiency. In conclusion, she summarised the key takeaways from project’s ongoing evaluation of learning outcomes for all three stakeholders engaged: higher education institutions, energy and sustainability industry, and anthropology and other social sciences students.
The key message of the event was that new forms of collaboration between academia and industry, new kinds of collaborative research methodologies across disciplines, between social sciences, design, and engineering, are crucial for a better understanding and insight into emerging technologies in the present – and in the future.
Featured image (top) by: Kaja Antlej (Deakin University)