Riding in Dala-Dalas with Social Scientists and Using Social Science to Unlock the Pan-Human Capacity for Innovation

Henry Delacore, Khanjan Mehta, and Leslie Speer

NCIIA Annual Meeting

Delacore, H. Mehta, K., and Leslie Speer. “Riding in Dala-Dalas with Social Scientists”, part of a panel with Delcore, H. (Panel Leader), Spears, L., “Using Social Science to Unlock the Pan-Human Capacity for Innovation“, NCIIA Annual Meeting, Washington DC, March 2009


This paper consists of three papers in one. The three contributors have each crossed disciplinary boundaries in an attempt to expose students to the potential for in- terdisciplinary work in developing innovative solutions to human problems. Henry Delcore, an anthropologist, works with engineering colleagues to join entrepre- neurship, engineering and anthropology students on product design teams. Khanjan Mehta, an electrical en- gineer, collaborates with women’s studies colleagues on social entrepreneurship projects in East Africa. Design- er Leslie Speer works with business, engineering, and design students on new product development. While each has, to some extent, his or her own way of framing challenges and results, all attest to the ways that engage- ment among designers, engineers and social scientists can lead to innovative products with a chance to make it in the marketplace. In different ways, each makes the case for including rigorous social science methodologies in the product design process, by employing ethnography to explore user needs or, more broadly, using social analysis to understand the social context of products and the conditions for their success.



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