Simple Explanation:

It takes a village to raise a kid ​ – parents alone can’t do it. ​

Mentors provide kids with new perspectives. Schools ​teach Math and English. ​Friends ​give advice and support ​.​

Instead of raising children, I think about raising ideas.

​We need new ideas to help save our planet, keep health care accessible, and strengthen democracy.

​To raise those ideas, I create villages.

Academic Explanation:

Collective innovation is a process that harnesses the diverse and untapped human, social, and economic capital from distributed networks to discover, evaluate, and implement new ideas. Open, ubiquitous, socio-technical systems support collective innovation affording greater speed and deeper and broader participation than was imaginable even a decade ago

Theoretically, I draw from on my academic training in social psychology, organizational behavior, design, and social computing. Practically, I draw from my professional experience as a designer and community leader.

As an Associate Professor of Design at Northwestern University, Faculty Founder of Design for America, Co-Founder of the Delta Lab, and Director of the Design Research Cluster, I build, study, and write about technology, design, and innovation.  I am a Northwestern Public Voices Fellowship Alum.

My research focuses on how technology and organizations fosters collective innovation. I have extensively studied the unique challenges and opportunities for crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, online communities, brainstorming, and prototyping – and provide a strong foundation for designing engaging social environments that promote innovation, learning, and leadership.

To support my mission of amplifying innovation in our country, I am actively designing a new online learning platform, Digital Loft, and a national collective innovation initiative called Design for America. Design for America students and mentors tackle local innovation projects with social impact.  Design for America has been featured in outlets such as Fast Company, Oprah, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, The Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Businessweek, and more. Currently, Design for America has 36 schools and 8000 members in its network across the country. Prior to Design for America, I helped to develop the business and design initiative at the Stanford d.school.

Over the past decade, I have consulted with for-profit and non-profit organizations about how to use social technologies and work practices to improve innovation, how to use crowdsourcing to foster innovation, how to structure innovation operations, and how to manage the human aspects of new product development.

I received my doctoral and master’s degrees in Management Science and Engineering and Product Design from Stanford, my bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth, and have worked professionally in design and management.

I teach DSGN 104: Design Thinking and Communication, and DSGN 495: Design Integration; DSGN 305/DSGN 401-3:Human Centered Design, and MTS 525: Communication Design at the Segal Design Institute in the McCormick School of Engineering and Kellogg School of Management, and in the School of Communication at Northwestern University.

I co-led Northwestern’s Bay Area Immersion Program (joint program between McCormick School of Engineering, Design Institute, and Medill School of Journalism) in Winter 2017.

Link to Gerber_CV_May_2018

Sample of Recent Work


  • Kim, Y, Shaw, A., Zhang, H., & Gerber, E. Understanding Trust Amid Crowdfunding Delays, CSCW 2017, Portland
  • Gerber, E. & Hui, J., 2016, Crowdfunding: How and Why People Participate, in Meric, J. et al., Eds., International Perspectives on Crowdfunding: Positive, Normative, and Critical Theory,  Emerald Group Publishing
  • Harburg, E., Greenberg, M., Hui, J., Gerber, E. Understanding the Effects of Crowdfunding on Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy, CSCW 2015, Vancouver
  • Hui, J., Gerber, E.  Crowdfunding for Science: Sharing Research with an Extended Audience, CSCW 2015, Vancouver
  • Greenberg, M., Easterday, M., Gerber, E., Critiki: A Scaffolding Approach to Gathering Design Feedback from Paid Crowdworkers, Creativity and Cognition 2015, Glasgow
  • Hui, J., Gerber, E., Gergle, D. Understanding and Leveraging Social Networks for Crowdfunding: Implications for Support Tools, DIS 2014, Vancouver
  • Gerber, E., Muller, M., Wash, R., Irani, L., Williams, A., and Churchill. E., 2014. Crowdfunding: an emerging field of research. Panel CHI 2014, Toronto
  • Gerber, E., & Hui, J., 2014, To Crowdfund or Not, Collective Intelligence, Cambridge, MA
  • Greenberg, M. & Gerber, E. Learning to Fail: Experiencing Public Failure Online Through Crowdfunding, CHI 2014, Toronto
  • Hui, J., Greenberg, M., Gerber, E. Understanding the Work of Crowdfunding Communities,  CSCW 2014, Baltimore *Honorable Mention
  • Gerber, E. & Hui, J. Crowdfunding: Motivations and Deterrents for Participation, TOCHI, 2013 pdf
  • Greenberg, M., Pardo, B.,  Gerber, E. Classifying Success and Failure on Kickstarter: A Machine Learning Approach, Computer Human Interaction WIP 2013 pdf
  • Gerber, E. Why Do People Give on Crowdfunding Sites? NPR Marketplace
  • Gerber, E. Does Crowdfunding Fail Some of the Most Promising Entrepreneurs? Huffington Post 2013

Innovation Networks

  • Hui, J., Gergle, D., Gerber, E. LinkUp: A Tool to Support Writing Introductory Help RequestsProceedings of Computer Human Interaction 2018, Montreal
  • Hui, J., Gerber, E., & Easterday, M. Distributed Apprenticeship in Online Communities, Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 2018
  • Smirnov, N., Easterday, E., & Gerber, E., Infrastructuring distributed studio networks: A case study and design principles.  Journal of Learning Sciences, 2018
  • Easterday, M., Gerber, E., & Rees Lewis, D. Social Innovation Networks: A New Approach to Social Innovation to Social Design Education and Impact, Design Issues, 2018
  • Hui, J. & Gerber, E. Developing Makerspaces as Sites of Entrepreneurship, Proceedings of Computer Supported Cooperative Work 2017, Portland
  • Zhang, H., Easterday, M., Gerber, E., Rees-Lewis, D., Maliakal, L. Agile Research Studios: Orchestrating Communities of Practice to Advance Research Training Agile Research Studios: Orchestrating Communities of Practice to Advance Research Training: ,Proceedings of Computer Supported Cooperative Work 2017, Portland
  • Gerber, E., & Easterday, M. Social Innovation Networks: Process, Model, and Outcomes, Proceedings of Harvey Mudd IX, 2015
  • Rees-Lewis, D., Harburg, E., Gerber, E., Easterday, M. Building Help-seeking Support Tools for Novice Designers, Proceedings of Creativity and Cognition 2015, Glasgow
  • Rees-Lewis, D., Gerber, E., Easterday, M., Supporting Project Scoping: The Scoping Wheel. Proceedings of Harvery Mudd IX, 2015
  • Easterday, M. Lewis-Rees, D., Fitzpatrick, C., and Gerber, E. Computer Supported Novice Group Critique, Proceedings of Design of Interactive Systems, 2014
  • Hui, J., Gerber, E., and Dow, S. Crowd Based Design Activities: Helping Students to Access Users Online Proceedings of Designing Interactive Systems, 2014
  • Dontcheva, M., Brandt, J., Morris, R., and Gerber, E., Combining Crowdsourcing and Learning to Improve Engagement and Performance, pdfProceedings of Computer Human Interaction  2014, Toronto
  • Dow, S. Gerber, E., and Wong, A. A Pilot Study of Using Crowds in the Classroom, Proceedings of Conference on Computer Human Interactionpdf, Paris, France, 2013


  • Foong, E., Gergle, D., & Gerber, E. Novice and Expert Sensemaking of Crowdsourced Feedback, Proceedings of Computer Supported Cooperative Work, ACM Press, 2018.
  • Yen, Y., Dow, S., Gerber, E., Bailey, B. Listen to Others, Listen to Yourself: Combining Feedback Review and Reflection to Improve Iterative Design,  Proceedings of Creativity and Cognition, ACM Press, 2017
  • Kittur, N., Bernstein, M., Nickerson, J., Gerber, E., Shaw, A., Lease, M. Zimmerman, J., and Horton, J. The Future of Crowdwork, pdf, Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Austin, TX  2013
  • Morris, R. Dontcheva, M., Finkelstein, A. and Gerber, E. Affect and Creative Performance on Crowdsourcing Platforms, Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction Conference, 2013
  • Lewis, S., Dontcheva, M., & Gerber, E. Affective Computational Priming and Creativity, Proceedings of Computer Human Interaction 2011, ACM Press
  • Shaw, A., Zhang, H., Monroy-Hernandez, A., Munson, S., Hill, B., Gerber, E., Kinnaird, P., Minder, P. Computer Supported Cooperative Action, ACM Interactions, 2014
  • Zhang, H., Monroy-Hernandez, A.,  Shaw, A., Munson, S., Gerber, E., Hill, B., Kinnaird, P., Farnham, S., & Minder, P. WeDo: Exploring End-To-End Computer Supported Collective Action, WeDo: ICWSM 2014

Design and Innovation Methods, Processes, Spaces

  • Carberry., A., Gerber, C., & Martin, C. Developing a Measure of Innovation Self-Efficacy, International Journal of Engineering Education (to appear)
  • Roldan, W., Hui, J., & Gerber, E., University Makerspaces: Opportunities to Support Equitable Participation for Women in Engineering, International Journal of Engineering Education, (to appear)
  • Porter, E., Bopp, C., Gerber, E., & Voida, A. Reappropriating Hackathons- The Production Work of the CHI4Good Day of Service, CHI 2017
  • Easterday, M., Lewis Rees, D. Gerber, E. Design Based Research, International Conference on Learning Sciences, 2014
  • Gerber, M. & Carroll, M., The Psychological Experience of Prototyping, Design Studies, 2012

Design for America serves as a laboratory for design based research in collective innovation.