Plimpton Lecture Series
This annual lecture series highlights the value of anthropological theory and methods in solving real world problems, with a focus on applying these methods to business activities. In addition to the lecture, anthropology students and selected other interested students will be given the opportunity to meet with the lecturer in a small group setting. This lecture is possible through the generous support of Mr. Jonathan Plimpton, Founder, International Business Management, Inc. and a 1970 graduate of Anthropology of Western Reserve College.
Elizabeth K. Briody, Ph.D.
Founder & Principal, Cultural Keys LLC
Adjunct Professor, Anthropology, Purdue University
Wednesday, April 13, 3:00 – 4:00 pm, Zoom
“Breaking Down a Corporate Culture: Ethnography Meets McKinsey”
In 2017, Dr. Briody began a collaborative project to document the evolving culture of a large, Middle Eastern petrochemical firm. The project involved a team of five business anthropologists and four professionals from McKinsey & Co. Dr. Briody will discuss two key areas of focus from this work: (1) content: identifying the strikingly similar themes and patterns in the firm’s Dutch and American operations, and (2) process: negotiating with the McKinsey colleagues about collecting and analyzing data, including the use of a study-participant drawing technique she was in the process of perfecting. The “silo” emerged as a helpful metaphor as the team sought to understand the broader cultural context including its structure and dynamics. The team’s recommendations were designed to penetrate those silo “walls” and enhance overall organizational performance.
Patricia Sunderland, Ph.D.
Founding Principal, Cultural Research and Analysis
Thursday, April 8, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, Zoom
“Mining Cultural Metaphors in Product Development and Design”
Dr. Sunderland is a specialist in the anthropological, ethnographic and cultural analysis of consumer worlds. Founder and president of Cultural Research & Analaysis, she is also first author of Doing Anthropology in Consumer Research and co-editor of the 2014 Handbook of Anthropology in Business. Her analyses have provided the strategic insight for the successful makeover of brands and retail environments as well as contributed to the launch of new advertising, products and brand strategies for many clients including Citibank, Nissan and PepsiCo.
2020 – CANCELED
Melissa Cefkin, Ph.D.
Principal Researcher, Human Centered Systems, Nissan Research Center
Monday, February 11, 5:00 – 6:00 pm, Mather Memorial Room 201
“Anthropological Forays into the Future: Living with Autonomous Cars”
Dr. Cefkin leads a team at the Nissan Research Center in Silicon Valley that examines the challenge of creating autonomous vehicles. How do automotive designers and programmers ensure that their autonomous vehicles can successfully interact with human drivers and pedestrians? What do programmers need to know about the behavior of human-directed vehicles so that autonomous vehicles can accurately predict their intentions?
Earlier in her career, Dr. Cefkin worked as a manager in the Accelerated Discovery Lab at IRB Research as well as at the Sapient Corporation and the Institute for Research on Learning. Her publications include Ethnography and the Corporate Encounter (2009), which analyzes the implications of anthropologists and other ethnographically-oriented social scientists being increasingly hired as employees, consultants, and advisers for businesses and other organizations. She has also served as the President of Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC), an organization “dedicated to providing practitioners, businesses, and partner organizations with access to the best practical ethnographic expertise from around the world.”
John Bing, Founder and Chairman of ITAP International
Monday, April 10th, 4:15 – 5:30 pm, Mather Memorial Room 201
“The Case for Comparative Quantitative Measures of Cultures: The Many Dimensions of Geert Hofstede”
About the Speaker:
Dr. John Bing is founder and Chairman of ITAP International, a consulting firm with global operations. His consulting experience spans the Americas, Europe and Africa and the pharmaceutical, consumer product, information technology industries and United Nations Agencies. He designed the original version of ITAP International’s Team Process Questionnaire family of consulting instruments and developed a new version of the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire, originally created by Geert Hofstede.
About the Lecture:
The field of cross-cultural research and practice has come into its own over the past fifty years, with the work of Geert Hofstede as the exemplar. His extensive published work on dimensions of culture has not been without controversy, but his methodology has prevailed and yielded practical approaches to comparing national cultures that have opened new approaches to learning. This lecture will review his methodological approaches and a practical application of his methodology.
Dawn Nafus, Senior Research Scientist at Intel
Monday, April 18th, 4:15 – 5:30 pm, Mather Memorial Room 201
“Getting Out of the Clouds: Context and Data within the Quantified Self Community”
About the Speaker:
Dawn Nafus is a Senior Research Scientist at Intel, where she conducts anthropological research to inspire new products and services. She has published widely on experiences of time, gender and technology, ethnography in industry, and most recently, quantification. She is the editor of Quantified: Biosensing Technologies in Everyday Life (MIT Press, 2016). She also co-leads the Data Sense project, which developed data exploration tools for non-expert use (www.makesenseofdata.com). She holds a PhD from University of Cambridge.
About the Lecture:
This talk will explore how health and wellness data is used within the Quantified Self (QS) community. QS is a group of people who keep track of their bodies in some way, and share what they found with others. Recent discussion in this community has focused on the possibility of “turning the evidence pyramid on its head,” in that participants are revaluing self-experimentation as a significant scientific practice. This re-introduces contextual knowledge into forms of knowledge production that are otherwise designed to erase it. It also opens up broader questions about how relations between individuals and populations might unfold in a data-rich, sensor-rich setting—a setting framed by biomedical sensibilities, but also one where situated knowledges might be valued more than god tricks, and where data in one’s hand might be more than just on its way to the cloud. I discuss these issues through my ethnographic research in the QS community, and by reflecting on my design work on Data Sense, a software project at Intel which investigated the material infrastructures required to aggregate and interpret health and wellness data in this “upside down” way.
Monday, April 13, 2015, 4:15 – 5:30 pm, Mather Memorial Room 201
Lecture Title: “Framing for Change: A Cultural-Cognitive Approach to Communication”
About the Speaker: Nathaniel Kendall-Taylor is Vice President for Research at FrameWorks Institute. He is a medical anthropologist leading a multi-disciplinary team of social scientists in studying public understanding and exploring ways to reframe such pressing issues as criminal justice reform, immigration, taxation, early childhood development, addiction, environmental health, education, public health and climate change. He employs social science theory and research methods from anthropology to improve the ability of researchers, advocates and practitioners to improve social outcome.
His past research has focused on child and family health and in understanding the social and cultural factors that create health disparities and affect decision-making. He has conducted fieldwork studying pediatric epilepsy and the impacts of chronic illness on family well-being on the coast of Kenya. He has applied social science methods in research on child marriage in Azerbaijan and higher education in Kazakhstan, and he has conducted ethnographic research on theories of motivation in “extreme” athletes.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 4:15 – 5:30 pm, Mather Memorial Room 201
Lecture Title: “Understanding Emplaced Brandscapes: Ethnographic Insights from American Girl”
About the Speaker: John F. Sherry, Jr. joined the Notre Dame Marketing faculty in 2005 as the Herrick Professor of Marketing and Chairman of the Department. For the two previous decades, he was a member of the Marketing Department at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Sherry is an anthropologist who studies the sociocultural and symbolic dimensions of consumption, and the cultural ecology of marketing. He is a Fellow of the American Anthropological Association as well as the Society for Applied Anthropology, and past President of the Association for Consumer Research. Sherry’s work appears in numerous journals, book chapters, professional manuals, and proceedings. He has edited Contemporary Marketing and Consumer Behavior: An Anthropological Sourcebook, as well as Servicescapes: The Concept of Place in Contemporary Markets; he is co-editor of Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 19, Time, Space and the Market: Retroscapes Rising, Consumer Culture Theory and Explorations in Consumer Culture Theory.
Dr. Robert Trotter, II
March 5, 2013, 4:15 – 5:30 pm, Mather Memorial Room 201
Lecture Title: “Solving Cultural Conundrums: A Career Exploring Cross Cultural Health Care Problems, Opportunities and Solutions from Fold Medicine to the World Health Organization and Back Again”
About the Speaker: Dr. Robert T. Trotter, II is an Arizona Regent’s Professor in anthropology. He is a medical anthropologist with 25 years of experience in cross-cultural health issues ranging from traditional healing in Mexican American communities to alcohol, drug abuse and HIV prevention and intervention programs for minority groups in the US and in international settings. In addition, he has spent the past 5 years doing research in corporate and business anthropology, resulting in a number of journal publications, a book, and a patent application. Dr. Trotter has more than 125 publications in scientific books and journals and has conducted research and policy studies for the NIH (National Institutes of Health), World Health Organization, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and General Motors Corporation.
He has a commitment to exploring new ethnographic research methods, research design, computer assisted ethnography, and international training in rapid ethnographic assessment, including the RARE and I-RARE programs for DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) and CDC. His other strong interest is the area of research ethics. Dr. Trotter has served as a member of Community Intervention Health and Behaviors review panel, NIH, DHHS; a member of the Data Safety Monitoring Board, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health; and a member of the Methods Focus task force, Toward a Higher Level of Analysis, Progress and Promise in Research on Social and Cultural Dimensions of Health, NIH, Office of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
April 20, 2012, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, Mather Memorial Room 201
Lecture Title: “Anthropology, Museums, and Public Engagement”
About the Speaker: Dr. Parzen joined the San Diego Museum of Man (SDMoM) as its Chief Executive Officer in August 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Case Western Reserve University, a J.D. from UC Davis School of Law, and a B.A. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley. Prior to joining SDMoM, Dr. Parzen was a Partner in the Labor & Employment Practice Group at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, LLP, where he served as the firm’s Pro Bono Program Coordinator. He has conducted extensive anthropological fieldwork on the Navajo Nation and is a long-time human rights advocate in the field of mental health law.
Dr. Parzen currently sits on the boards of the Western Museums Association, the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, the Balboa Park Online Collaborative, and the San Diego Volunteer Lawyers Program. He previously served on the board of ElderHelp of San Diego, where he led the organization as its president for two years. Dr. Parzen has been named a “40 Under Forty” by San Diego Metropolitan Magazine, a “Top Young Attorney” by the San Diego Daily Transcript, and—more recently—one of San Diego Magazine’s “50 People to Watch” in 2012.
April 5, 2011, 4:15 pm, Mather Memorial Room 201
Lecture Title: “Medical Anthropology Applied: how major healthcare companies use medical anthropology and don’t know it”
About the Speaker: Susheel Jain is a health economist with expertise in health and disease management and corporate strategy. He received an MA in Medical Anthropology from CWRU and then studied health economics and health policy at the RAND/UCLA Center for Health Policy Study.
Mr. Jain has been working in the field of health economics and business strategy for over 20 years, most recently as Vice President, New Solution Design, WellPoint, Inc., the largest commercial health insurance company in the U.S., and currently as Principal, Jain Group.
April 8, 2010, 4:15 pm, Mather Memorial 201
Lecture Title: Numbers have Qualities too: Experiences with Ethno-mining
About the Speaker: Field research holds a special place for those who conduct it. It is our anchor for relevance in the corporation. This talk will discuss our groups work in general, how we are situated in the corporation, and then explore the experiences with “ethno-mining”, a way of joining data base mining and ethnography. Since 2004 we have been using a variety of sensing and behavioral tracking technologies in conducting field research. We will present the main characteristics of doing ethno-mining, compare ethno-mining to other field research technologies, highlight the strengths of ethno-mining in co-creating data with participants and conclude by noting how the representations have opened new conversations and discourses inside the corporation. In this way, these new opportunities to collect sometimes counterintuitive data contributes to the research itself as well as the ongoing process of constructing oneself as relevant.
April 7, 2009, 4:15 pm, Mather Memorial 201
Lecture Title: Applications of Anthropology in Business: Thinking and Working “Outside the Box.”
About the Speaker: Dr. Sando is a career anthropologist with expertise in qualitative market research methods, corporate strategic planning and innovation. She is the founder of Sando and Associates, a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. She is also a Senior Associate with Barbara Perry Associates, a leader in Team Ethnography for over 20 years.
She earned a B.A. in anthropology from The George Washington University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from The University of Hawaii. From 2000 to 2006, she was an adjunct faculty member of George Mason University’s School of Public Policy. She is on the boards of the DC chapter of The Qualitative Research Consultants Association and the Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists and is a fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology.
April 1, 2008, 4:15-5:30, Mather Memorial 201, Reception to follow
Lecture Title: “American Breakfast and the Mother-in-law”
About the Speaker:
Executive Director, Customer Insight Research, TACTICS, LLC. Past President, National Association for the Practice of Anthropology. Author of Creating Breakthrough Ideas.