People Powering Policy

People Powering Policy is a two-year project, led by Dr Anna Whicher as an AHRC Fellow, to explore the role of design in policy-making.

The project aims to identify if, where and how design research might enhance policymaking through greater citizen involvement. It will produce a Design for Policy Toolkit containing tools, methods and metrics to support academics and policy-makers to engage more effectively with citizens during the policy process. The toolkit will be jointly developed and tested in one-month immersive residencies with the Cabinet Office Policy Lab, Welsh Government Innovation Team, Northern Ireland Innovation Lab and Scottish Government.

Design is an approach to problem-solving that starts from an analysis of user needs and involves users in jointly developing and testing solutions. Design is increasingly adopted by government teams called ‘Policy Labs’ to renew the legitimacy of policy-making through greater citizen involvement. According to Nesta, there are over 100 Policy Labs around the world and a study commissioned by the EU Policy Lab revealed that there are more than 60 Policy Labs in Europe including around 20 in the UK.

To benefit both policy-makers and academics, the following research question has been formulated: How and where might design research enhance policy-making through greater citizen involvement?

Design research typically prescribes four iterative phases (Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver) and the research objectives have been framed as such:

1. Discover the needs of citizens, policy-makers and academics in the context of policy-making through a review of the literature, policy procedures and semi-structured interviews with citizens, policy-makers and academics;

2. Define if, where and how design research might enhance policy-making by facilitating workshops with citizens, academics and policy-makers from Policy Labs;

3. Develop and test tools, methods and metrics to support the effective use of design research in policy-making in one-month ‘residences’ with four Policy Labs and facilitating further workshops with citizens;

4. Deliver a robust and commonly accepted Design for Policy Toolkit to stakeholders that will be widely disseminated to Policy Labs, academics, policy-makers and designers.

In addition to the Design for Policy Toolkit, the outcomes will include a series of advocacy and engagement events to provide input and feedback as well as a number of publications.

To find out more or to get involved email or call +44 (0)2920 417027.

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