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Home » Course Catalogue » MBA Electives » RSM2516H – Design Research and Data Storytelling (SPring 2023)

RSM2516H – Design Research and Data Storytelling (SPring 2023)

General Information


Promotional Video

Applicable Emphases:
(m) = Main, (s)= Supplemental

  • n/a

Applicable Major(s):
(c) = Core, (r) = Recommended

  • Business Design (c)
  • Health Sector Management (r)

Instructor Bio

Emma is a design anthropologist with over a decade of industry experience applying human-centered research methodologies to complex business, innovation and design challenges. She works with clients to uncover insights about human beliefs and behaviors and translates this understanding into strategies that elevate human experiences and improve business outcomes. Her strategic guidance augments traditional decision-making frameworks to deliver human-centered business impacts.  Working with clients that include Telus, TD Bank, AstraZeneca, Nestle, SickKids, Pinterest, The United Way, and others, Emma translate human insights into opportunities for growth and differentiation. Formally trained in anthropological theory and ethnographic methods, has conducted extensive research into a broad range of social phenomena, including consumer and popular culture, digital interactivity, the future of data privacy and security, gender equity at work and the cultural aspects of technological innovation. 

Emma has a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of Toronto, and an MA in communication and cultural studies from Toronto Metropolitan (formerly Ryerson)/York Universities.


2-hour studio class — introductory theory, applied practice, and online tutorials

Course Mission

This course is aimed at students with prior experience or coursework with business design and/or marketing research. The learning objectives are to:

  • Learn and practice the fundamental principles of design research for business innovation
  • Learn how to design, plan and execute a field-based qualitative research study;
  • Learn how to apply ethnographic techniques (observation, semi-structured interviewing and analysis) to a real-world business challenge;
  • Learn how to apply visual analytics techniques to synthesize data into powerful narratives

Course Scope

In this course, you will learn how design research helps to uncover patterns, develop insights and inform strategies. Design research is a sub-set of qualitative research methods that focuses on studying people through rigorous observation, in-depth interviewing and collaborative co-design. Design research methodologies help us uncover deep actionable insights that de-risk the launch of new products, services and technologies.

You will learn and practice ethnographic techniques to develop compelling insights, co-design solutions and apply visual analytics to tell data-rich stories. Design research and data storytelling are used extensively in management consulting, product and service design, marketing strategy, sustainability, communications, organizational development, etc., as deep insight into people’s real-world behaviour is fundamental to business success.

Evaluation and Grade Breakdown

ComponentDue DatesDeliveryWeight
Individual Participation + DiscussionOngoingTBC20%
Discussion Comments (5% x 4)OngoingDocument20%
Research Plan – Project Team (4-5 people)Class 6Report15%
Research Project – Project Team (4-5 people)Class 12Presentation and Report25%
Individual Reflection Video (Individual)Last ClassReport/Video/Blog20%

Required Resources

Please note students are required to purchase a specific journal/notebook for this class. Required readings and supplemental materials will be provided on Quercus.

Last Updated: 2022-06-07 @ 11:55 am