Image Credits: Hayri Dortdivanlioglu


To lay a foundation for understanding design and research methods for the systemic study of design, media, and computing technologies. 


The purpose of this course is to lay a foundation for better understanding of design and research methods and their grounding in philosophy of knowledge. Students will learn how research questions and methods as themselves ‘designed’ in the ways that they are positioned to frame problems, collect and share evidence and claim their validity, and shape arguments in response to theoretical and practical problems. This will faciliate the understanding of theory and practice as deeply intertwined, entangled in social and cultural ideals and values while rejecting a relativistic standpoint that renders all knowledge claims as equally valid. The course will include discussions, guest speakers, viewing, and workshops to examine various methodological strategies and their tactics in action.


  • Understanding the philosophic foundations of digital media design and research methodologies
  • Engaging critically and creatively with design and research methods by tracing their history, unpacking their politics, and critically engaging their epistemic validity
  • Employing theories presented in this course to identify/frame problems and choose methodologies that are best suited to address them


I strive to create an open and inclusive learning environment built upon feminist ethos of curiosity, generosity, humility, and respect coupled with practices of listening, experimentation, and collaboration. I will explain the details of this on the first day of classes and look forward to your particular ways of following, extending, and amending the above by expressing what they might entail in your words and actions.


Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. 2003. 
Graff, Gerald, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. They say, I say: The Moves That Matters in Academic Writing. 2006. Highly Recommended
Clark, Roy Peter. Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. Little, Brown Spark, 2008.
Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor, 1995.

Course Foundations
This course is inspired and informed by the following:
Buchanan, Richard. “Systems Thinking and Design Thinking: The Search for Principles in the World We Are Making.” She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation 5, no. 2 (2019): 85–104. 
Dewey, John. Logic: the Theory of Inquiry. 1938.
Haraway, Donna. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies 14, no. 3 (1988): 575-599. 
Harding, Sandra G., ed. The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies. Psychology Press, 2004. 
hooks, bell. Teaching to Transgress. 2014. 
Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Crossing Press, 2012. 
Lury, Celia, and Nina Wakeford, eds. Inventive Methods: The Happening of the Social. Routledge, 2012.
Levine, Donald N. Powers of the Mind: The Reinvention of Liberal Learning in America. 2006.
McKeon, Richard P. On Knowing—The Social Sciences. 2017. 

Listening and Viewing Assignments 
In addition to reading, you will be assigned to watch videos or listen to podcasts. These materials an essential part of the course that will be drawn upon in class discussions. 

Weekly Writing 
To engender class discussion, students will write short entries on the readings ahead of each session. Writing assignments are due at 5pm every Wednesday unless otherwise instructed. 

How will this class help me with quals?
It is important to note that the aim of this class is *not* to prepare for quals. Rather, the aim is for you to begin your research trajectory by learning about the plurality of epistemic approaches: What are the possible ways to approach your research interest? How can you write a proposal and identify meaningful ways to craft hypotheses and collect evidence? What do these choices imply for the communities of knowledg that you engage with and the kinds of impact you can make? The good news is, however, that leearning to answer the above questions, alongside many excercises and foundations we learn, are applicable to your preparation for quals inclusive of learning how to read, how to think through similarities and differnces ways of knowing and writing, and how to frame and communicate your own response to authors and readings. 

Course Schedule


Week 1: Jan 9

Philosophy of Knowledge and the Demand of Pluralism
  In Class
  • Class Introduction
  • Is philosophy of knowledge relavant to digital media studies?
  • How to read?
  • Concept mapping excersice (based on: Booth, Wayne C. “The rhetorical stance.” College Composition and Communication14, no. 3 (1963): 139–145.)

Week 2, Jan 16

Scientific Strategies | Objectivity and Efficiency
  • Weaver, Warren. “The mathematics of communication.” Scientific American 181, no. 1 (1949): 11–15.
  • Miller, George A. “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information.” Psychological Review 63, no. 2 (1956): 81.
  • Video: Mouse Pointers and Fitts’s Law
  • Video: Classical and Operant Conditioning
  • Turing, Alan M. “Computing machinery and intelligence.” In Parsing the Turing Test, pp. 23–65. Springer, Dordrecht, 2009

Week 3, Jan 23

Scientific Strategies | Objectivity and Efficiency
  • Simon, Herbert. Sciences of the Artificial. 1969. (Selections)
  • Norman, Don. Design of Everyday Things. 2013. (Selections)
  • Podcast: Barn Owls and ADHD
  • Video: Powers of Ten
  • Video: The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum, 2014)
  • Wiener, Norbert. The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society. The Riverside Press, 1950.

Week 4, Jan 30

Putting Scientific Strategies in Historical Perspective
  • Buchanan, Richard. “Design Research and the New Learning.” Design Issues 17, no. 4 (2001): 3–23.
  • Huppatz, Daniel J. “Revisiting Herbert Simon’s “Science of Design”.” Design Issues 31, no. 2 (2015): 29-40.
  • Nakamura, Lisa. “Indigenous Circuits: Navajo Women and the Racialization of Early Electronic Manufacture.” American Quarterly 66, no. 4 (2014): 919– 941.
  • Castañeda, Claudia, and Lucy Suchman. “Robot visions.” Social Studies of Science 44, no. 3 (2014): 315–341.&


Week 5, Feb 6

Ethnographic, Interpretive, and Speculative Strategies | Power and Politics of Knowledge Making
  • Geertz, Clifford. After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist.1996. (Ch. 1)
  • Chin, Elizabeth. My Life with Things: The Consumer Diaries. Duke University Press, 2016. (Selections)
  • Frank, Arthur W. “Can we research suffering?.” Qualitative health research 11, no. 3 (2001): 353-362.
  • Wong, Alice. “The Rise and Fall of the Plastic Straw Sucking in Crip Defiance.” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 5, no. 1 (2019).
  • Geertz, Clifford. “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight.” In Culture and Politics, pp. 175–201.
  • Goffman, Erving. The presentation of self in everyday life. 1978. (Intro. + Ch. 1)
  • Miller, Daniel. The Comfort of Things. 2008.
  • Duneier, Mitchell, and Ovie Carter. Sidewalk. 1999.
  • Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen. 2011.
  • Du Gay, Paul et al. Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman. 2013.

Week 6, Feb 13

Ethnographic, Interpretive, and Speculative Strategies | Power and Politics of Knowledge Making
    Invited Lecture: Dr. Jennifer Singh
  • Singh, Jennifer S. Multiple Autisms: Spectrums of advocacy and genomic science. U of Minnesota Press, 2015. Intro and Chapters 4 and 5
  • Emerson, Robert, et al. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. 2011.
  • Clarke, Adele E., and Kathy Charmaz, eds. Grounded theory and situational analysis. 2014.
  • Olson, Judith S., and Wendy A. Kellogg, eds. Ways of Knowing in HCI. Vol. 2, 2014.
  • Bowker, Geoffrey C., Karen Baker, Florence Millerand, and David Ribes. “Toward information infrastructure studies: Ways of knowing in a networked environment.” In International handbook of internet research, pp. 97-117. 2009.
  • Seaver, Nick. “Algorithms as culture: Some tactics for the ethnography of algorithmic systems.” Big Data & Society 4, no. 2 (2017).
  • Clarke, A., and A. Clarke. “Doing situational maps and analysis.” Situational analysis: Grounded theory after the postmodern turn (2005): 83-144.

Week 7, Feb 20

Ethnographic and Interpretive Methods
  • Charmaz, Kathy (2013).”Grounded Theory Methods in Social Justice Research.” The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research. Chapters 1 and 2.
  • Clarke, Adele E. “Situational Analyses: Grounded Theory Mapping After the Postmodern Turn.” Symbolic Interaction 26, no. 4 (2003): 553-576.


Week 8, Feb 27

Beyond a View from Nowhere: Situated Knowledges and Strong Objectivity
  • Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science, NYTimes.
  • Lorde, Audre. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” 1984. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Ed. Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press. 110–114. 2007.
  • Harding, Sandra. “Rethinking standpoint epistemology: What is “strong objectivity?” The Centennial Review 36, no. 3 (1992): 437–470.
  • Haraway, Donna. “Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective.” Feminist studies 14, no. 3 (1988): 575–599.
  • Buchanan, Richard. “Branzi’s Dilemma: Design in Contemporary Culture.” Design Issues 14, no. 1 (1998): 3–20.
  • Suchman, Lucy. “Agencies in technology design: Feminist reconfigurations.” In Proceedings of 5th European Symposium on Gender & ICT, Digital Cultures: Participation–Empowerment–Diversity. 2009.

Week 9, March 6

Beyond a View from Nowhere: Wicked Problems, Uncertaintly, and Inquiry
  • Buchanan, Richard. “Wicked problems in design thinking.” Design Issues 8, no. 2 (1992): 5–21.
  • Steen, Marc. “Co-design as a process of joint inquiry and imagination.” Design Issues 29, no. 2 (2013): 16–28. (first half)
  • Forlano, Laura, and Stephanie Smith. "Critique as Collaboration in Design Anthropology." Journal of Business Anthropology 7, no. 2 (2018): 279–300.
  • ++ Proposal First Draft Due
  • Schön, Donald A. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Routledge, 2017. Chapter 1: Required. Chapters 2 and 3: Recommended
  • JafariNaimi, Nassim, Lisa Nathan, and Ian Hargraves. “Values as hypotheses: design, inquiry, and the service of values.” Design Issues 31, no. 4 (2015): 91–104.
  • Warr, Andy, and Eamonn O’Neill. “Understanding Design as a Social Creative Process.” In Proceedings of the 5th conference on Creativity & Cognition , pp. 1181–127. ACM, 2005
  • John Dewey: “The Pattern of Inquiry,” In Logic, the Theory of Inquiry. (1938)

Week 10, March 13

Beyond a View from Nowhere: Design-Based Inquiry
  • Friedman, Ken. “Research into, by and for design.” Journal of Visual Art Practice 7, no. 2 (2008): 153–160
  • Frayling, Christopher (1993). “Research in art and design.” Royal College of Art, Research Papers, Volume 1, Number 1, London
  • ++ writing workshop and proposal discussion
  • Dourish, Paul. “Implications for design.” In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems , pp. 5411–550. ACM, 2006.
  • Matt Ratto. 2011. Critical Making: Conceptual and Material Studies in Technology and Social Life. The Information Society 27, 4: 252–260.
  • Janet Vertesi, David Ribes, Laura Forlano, Yanni A. Loukissas, and Marisa Leavitt Cohn. 2016. Engaging, Designing, and Making Digital Systems. In The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (fourth edition edition), Ulrike Felt, Rayvon Fouché, Clark A. Miller and Laurel Smith-Doerr (eds.). MIT Press, Cambridge, 169–194.

Week 11, March 20-24: Spring Break

Week 12, March 27

Beyond a View from Nowhere: Decolonizing Methodologies
  • Bidwell, Nicola, and Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, eds. At the intersection of indigenous and traditional knowledge and technology design. Informing Science, 2015. [Select chapters read by students]
  • Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books Ltd., 2012. (Intro, Chapters 1 and 6)
  • TallBear, Kim. 2014. “Standing with and Speaking as Faith: A Feminist-Indigenous Approach to Inquiry.” Journal of Research Practice 10, no. 2: 17.
  • ++ Writing workshop and proposal discussion

Week 13, April 3

Beyond a View from Nowhere: Inventive and Participatory Methods
  • Simonsen, Jesper, and Toni Robertson, eds. Routledge international handbook of participatory design. Routledge, 2012. [chapters selected by students]
  • Keyes, Os, Jevan Hutson, and Meredith Durbin. “A Mulching Proposal.” arXiv preprint arXiv:1908.06166 (2019).
  • Gupta, Hemangini. “Postcolonial Assembly Protocols for Unnamed Automation Projects.” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 6, no. 2 (2020).
  • ++ Writing workshop and proposal discussion
  • Keshavarz, Mahmoud. “Material Practices of power–part I&II: Passports and Passporting.” Design Philosophy Papers 13, no. 2 (2015): 97–113.
  • Khosravi, Shahram. ‘Illegal’ Traveller: an Auto-Ethnography of Borders. 2010.
  • Forlano, Laura. “Data Rituals in Intimate Infrastructures: Crip Time and the Disabled Cyborg Body as an Epistemic site of Feminist Science.” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 3, no. 2 (2017).


Week 14, April 10

Staying with the Trouble
  • Haraway, Donna J. Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press, 2016.
  • Sara, Ahmed. “Living a Feminist Life.” (2017).
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “The dangers of a single story” (TED Talk)
  • Hargraves, Ian. “Care and Capacities of Human-Centered Design.” Design Issues 34, no. 3 (2018): 76–88.
  • ++ Writing workshop and proposal discussion
  • Vallor, Shannon. Technology and the virtues: A philosophical guide to a future worth wanting. 2016

Week 15, April 17

Dialectical and Conversational Methods
  • ++ Writing workshop and proposal discussion