Empowering indigenous communities in India through the use of design thinking methods
Kumar, C. Santhosh
Kuruvachan, K. George
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The project explored how user-led design research methods such as design thinking can be used to engage with, and empower indigenous communities in rural India, with a focus on how to improve their health and well-being. The project was a collaboration with researchers from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in India; villagers from indigenous tribal communities in the Kerala State of India; medical doctors and healthcare workers who work in these rural communities; and experts in eHealth solutions. The design thinking methods used in the project are based on many of the key principles of indigenous research methods, but also put a strong emphasis on how to generate impact by considering solutions that are desirable, feasible and viable. The project included ethnographic field work in three tribal villages in the Wayanad district of Kerala; participatory workshops to help discover and develop new ideas to meet the health needs of the indigenous tribal communities; and reflections by tribal villagers and healthcare workers on the benefits of the project, as well as limitations and on-going challenges. This paper documents the approach taken in the project and the lessons learnt - in particular, how design thinking methods and techniques can be effectively used to engage with indigenous communities in a respectful manner, to ensure equitable partnership, and to enable the mobilization of knowledge to help improve the health and well-being of indigenous communities in India.
ESRC/AHRC GCRF Indigenous Engagement programme;
Loudon, G., Kumar, C.S., Sreekumar, K.T., Haritha, H. and Kuruvachan, K.G. (2019) 'Empowering indigenous communities in India through the use of design thinking methods',
Paper published by UKRI for ESRC/AHRC GCRF Indigenous Engagement programme, available at https://www.ukri.org/news/esrc-ahrc-gcrf-indigenous-engagement-programme/
Cardiff Metropolitan University (Grant ID: Cardiff Metropolian (Internal))
- User Centred Design 
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