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Lauren Herckis - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Lauren Herckis

Librarian | Carnegie Mellon University


Lauren Herckis' field research applies anthropological and archaeological methods and theory to analyze human engagement with the world.


Lauren Herckis is an anthropologist at Carnegie Mellon University who specializes in faculty culture and the use of technology in higher education. Her field research applies anthropological and archaeological methods and theory to analyze human engagement with the material world. Dr. Herckis is interested in implementation science, human diversity (especially in urban contexts), the pedagogical training of future faculty, the politics of praxis in fieldwork, chaîne opératoire, and political economy in urban growth. Her research in Latin America interrogates assumptions about cultural heterogeneity in the context of long-term urban growth, and highlights the ways that social networks dynamically impact technical choices and the development of informal economies. Under the aegis of Carnegie Mellon's Simon Initiative, Dr. Herckis' current projects explore the intersection of campus culture, technological change, and effective teaching at the college level. Her research informs policymaking, shapes the development of learning technologies, and illuminates aspects of organizational culture and policy which affect teaching practice.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Human-Computer Interaction

Implementation Science

Future of Education


Digital Archaeology

Media Appearances (5)

Why Professors Doubt Education Research

EdSurge  online


Lauren Herckis, an anthropologist at Carnegie Mellon University who has studied the culture of ancient Mayan cities, is turning her focus closer to home these days—exploring why professors try new teaching approaches, or decide not to.

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Failure to embrace new teaching techniques not just about fear of embarrassment

Times Higher Education  online


There are many reasons why academics shun new pedagogical styles, say Lauren Herckis, Richard Scheines and Joel Smith

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Innovation and the Fear of Trying

Inside Higher Ed  online


Last week in Inside Higher Ed, reporter David Matthews of The Times Higher Education characterized “as a surprising conclusion” the work of Carnegie Mellon University anthropologist Lauren Herckis that a major barrier to instructional innovation and technology utilization in higher education is that faculty “are simply too afraid of looking stupid in front of their students to try something new.”

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‘Fear of Looking Stupid’

Inside Higher Ed  online


Lauren Herckis was brought in to Carnegie Mellon University to understand why, despite producing leading research into how students learn best, the institution had largely failed to adopt its own findings.

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How to teach reason properly

Times Higher Education  online


To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry

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#40 Lauren Herckis, Carnegie Mellon University: Understanding Why Some Educators Adopt New Technologies & Others Don't Why Professors Doubt Education Research


Industry Expertise (3)

Public Policy



Accomplishments (4)

Early Career Researcher Award (professional)

2016 POD Network in Higher Education

University of Pittsburgh Arts and Sciences PCB Alumni Fellowship (professional)


Fulbright Garcia-Robles IIE Fellowship (professional)


H.J. Heinz Fellowship (professional)


Education (3)

University of Pittsburgh: Ph.D., Anthropology 2015

University of Pittsburgh: Certificate, Latin American Studies 2007

University of Michigan: B.A., Anthropology 1999

Affiliations (6)

  • Anthropology of Higher Education TIG : Vice Chair for Sessions
  • Computer Applications & Quantitative Methods in Archaeology : Member
  • ACM Association for Computing Machinery : Member
  • SIGCHI Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction : Member
  • SfAA Society for Applied Anthropology : Member
  • AAA American Anthropological Association : Member

Event Appearances (5)

Using Adaptive Learning Technologies Effectively

California Education Learning Labs meeting  Mt. San Antonio College


Optimizing Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning

Washington and Lee University  Lexington, VA


The New Digital Divide: Equity and Access in Postsecondary Education

Spring 2023 Micro-Course: Technology, Humanity, and Social Justice  University of Pittsburgh Global Studies Center


The Challenges and Triumphs of Blended Learning

KEDGE Business School  Marseille, France


Glocal Collaboration on Education for Sustainable Development

UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development  


Articles (4)

Exploring Hybrid Virtual-Physical Homes

DIS '20: Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference

2020 There has been a great deal of research regarding the ways that people conceptualize and interact with places they call "home." This work has been extended to virtual reality primarily in the context of design tools. Here, we explore the idea of a hybrid virtual-physical home that uses virtual space to supplement an existing physical home.

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Cultivating Practice: Ensuring Continuity, Acknowledging Change

Practicing Anthropology

2018 This article presents the results of ethnographic and survey research conducted as part of a project designed to identify barriers and affordances to the adoption of evidence-based instructional practices in higher education. It focuses particularly on the role that faculty identity plays in approaches to teaching. The mixed-methods approach used in this study facilitates an exploration of the relationship between faculty identity and instruction.

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Passing the Baton: Digital Literacy and Sustained Implementation of eLearning Technologies

Current Issues in Emerging eLearning

2018 Evidence-based eLearning tools have proliferated in recent decades, but adoption at scale remains elusive. Educator buy-in is important for successful implementation of eLearning tools, and is often engaged through peer discussion, learning communities, and other educator network engagement.

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Living Black: Social Life in an African American Neighborhood by Mark S. Fleisher (review)

Michigan Historical Review

2016 Mark Fleisher’s Living Black: Social Life in an African American Neighborhood introduces the reader to central concepts in anthropology through the lens of one researcher’s personal experience. This eminently readable book has a compelling cadence which carries the reader from one snapshot of life in an American city to another and portrays a community at the mercy of systemic racism in the late 1990s.

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