The Human Systems design method was mostly invented by Joe Edelman (me). I also wrote about 80% of the text and exercises. Another 15% was written by Nathan Vanderpool, and remaining 5% by either Serge Hunt, Anne Selke, or Caro Goethel.

Intellectual Background

  • Our metrics, surveys and evaluation techniques descend from the capability approach, a human-values based evaluation methodology pioneered by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, and used by the World Bank and in other large scale projects. But we address some problems with the capability approach: it's imprecise notion of values ("capabilities and functionings"), and its tendency to assume universal human values.
  • Our general approach to understanding social issues—in terms of social practices and breakdown in the viability of the relevant values—comes more from sociology and political theory (especially the tradition of pragmatists like Charles Taylor) than from critical tech or media theory. To this common sociological lens, we add more technical work on the evolution of norms (by Karl Opp, Simon DeDeo, and many others).
  • The social science above has been given a stronger foundation based on recent work on agency and choice which is clearer about human values and their role in behavior, choice, and reasons. This is based on work by philosophers David Velleman, Ruth Chang, Isaac Levi, and Elizabeth Anderson.
  • As we work to practically rebuild organizations and design teams around values, we are informed by previous changes in institutions and design processes from urban planning and public health, pioneered by a diverse crew including William Whyte, Esther Duflo, Paul Farmer, Jim Yong Kim. This is an area in which we still have much to learn, and are currently adding to the curriculum.

For more, see the bibliography over at .

And here.