The Culture Design Institute was created to help communities guide their own social change efforts using integrated social science tools and frameworks. Our mission is to launch a series of Culture Design Labs around systemic challenges ranging from poverty and inequality to climate change and more.
We are a fiscally-sponsored nonprofit research center within the Oregon Research Institute’s Community & Evaluation Services. Our fellows are scientific researchers from diverse backgrounds who care about the future of humanity and believe in the need for knowledge synthesis across academic silos to deliver integrated applications of social science to chronic problems for communities around the world.
Our unique model is to treat every place where practitioners seek to create positive social change as a field site for applied cultural evolution research — forging partnerships between scientists and change practitioners to analyze, monitor, and guide their efforts with the best scientific tools available. We do this by establishing Culture Design Labs around frameworks for conducting action research using participatory approaches that include those who will be impacted by programs and interventions.
Among the fields we employ for our work are behavioral science, cultural anthropology, prevention science, public health, complexity research, and evolutionary studies. We take a problem-based approach that blurs disciplinary boundaries by drawing broadly from the social and environmental sciences. This gets deployed as location-based solutions that help communities become more healthy and resilient through the convergence of public policy, social innovation, and design science.