An outcome of a research on qualitative/empathetic/curiosity based approach to an idea/concept design would be, as per my understanding of the concept, the story of Bunker Roy’s journey from an elitist school/education with amazingly materialistically successful career choices that he had to a remote village in Bihar, where he encountered first hand the people of famine hit Bihar, their suffering, their life and daily struggles. This encounter changed his life. Going ahead on his newfound path, he broke all urban convention of any self respecting affluent, well educated Indian family to go to the village and live there, because he had made up his mind to dig wells. He moved to the village to work with villagers and went on to start the ‘Barefoot Movement’. Years later, the Barefoot College became a reality. It required the teacher to become a learner. It did not require fancy degrees, just an enthusiasm and a skill to work with one’s hands. His approach shows empathy towards society and the individuals living in it. The kind of approach that we as designers are trying to achieve.
Unit Four quotes Educator, writer and designer Eric Heiman who describes fieldwork process in design as having two facets, ‘empathy’-looking at the human experience in a sympathetic eye to see what is truly needed by the audience-and ‘curiosity’-having an interest in the lives of the audience so as to further an understanding of what is needed in a product.
In Rajasthan, India, an extraordinary school teaches rural women and men — many of them illiterate — to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors in their own villages. It’s called the Barefoot College. – Bunker Roy. Founder of the Barefoot College.TED Talk.
Here is the link to Bunker Roy’s TED Talk.
Here is the link to the barefoot college’s link.
The idea of the Barefoot College fulfills the criterias mentioned in Stanford’s Bootcamp Bootleg Manual. It talks about Empathy, Definition, Ideation, Prototype and Testing. The approach tells the story the way the villagers see it. Each of the mentioned criteria has a larger, long term goal in focus and ensures a systematic, qualitative approach. When Bunker Roy started the Barefoot University, it was after time spent in the rural areas with the villagers, first hand, with the people of the region, to understand what they really needed. He did not come into the village, guns blazing, ready to ram down the villagers’ throats his degrees, his education. Instead, he approached the concept of working in rural areas via an empathetic approach, finding ways to work with them through the skills that they were equipped with and looking at exploring new ways to utilise them to the fullest potential possible. He went about this in a way where the villagers would understand where he is coming from and would co-operate, by using their language, their culture, their hospitality.