Anthropology is a constantly evolving discipline that responds to change and challenges in and outside academia. Outside of academia, anthropologists have found themselves hired in increasingly diverse roles, from Chief Culture Officers to technology strategists and designers, as well as roles in international development and government. Anthropologists and social scientists have been part of major shifts in digital and creative industries and have been hired to design media content, products, services, and experiences. 


In industry, our value is typically seen in bringing a deeply human and cultural perspective to solve problems, identify risks and issues, create new opportunities, and to add commercial and social value.  Design Anthropology is a discipline that has gained significant interest and popularity as a way to inform design processes, offers a more holistic and critical perspective of design and what is created in ways that conventional forms of market research and innovation have not been able to. 


One downside to the increased popularity of social science methods in industry is that the methods of anthropology and social sciences have been co-opted and watered down, and the use of theory to understand data is often overlooked or not considered at all. In this talk, I will share my experience of Design Anthropology working at the intersection of strategy, digital design, place-making, architecture and commerce. In doing so, I want to explore the need for academic and applied anthropology to inform each other and open the discussion to find ways to make academic anthropology more tangible to students and professionals seeking roles outside academia.


Chris Hayward, Design Anthropologist, Populous and Hello City.

In the role of Design Anthropologist, Chris is responsible for leading strategic & creative solutions to define memorable & meaningful experiences & customer centric strategies. Throughout his anthropological work, he has helped major brands, teams and individuals to understand & make sense of their industry, customers & end-users. He specialises in providing strategic insight for product, service, experience design & business development by finding ways to align human needs, business goals, & cultural technologies. In his spare time, Chris is an Adjunct Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Queensland Social Sciences Faculty. Chris has more than 12 years’ experience leading & managing research & design teams working in cross & multi-cultural contexts. He has held senior positions on a wide range of projects in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, France & Great Britain. Chris’ industry experience covers aviation, retail, eHealth, public sector, leisure & entertainment, social services, hospitality, manufacturing, academia, rural & remote mental health, primary healthcare, quality use of medicines, organisational design, Indigenous community development.

About Anthropology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Anthropology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of anthropological research and ideas among UQ scholars and invited researchers. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment.


Online. Please contact the organisers for the Zoom meeting link