New Report on ’Design & Policy’ co-authored by Professor Liz Richardson

A report calling for more cross-disciplinary research on design in public policy has been launched by the AHRC funded Design There is a growing field in practice and research dedicated to investigating the distinctive contribution of design to policymaking. Whilst the UK is a leader in the use of design in government and policy, this leading position could be enhanced through a more effective, cross-disciplinary evidence base about the use of design expertise in policymaking.

This was the key message in a report launched this month, is co-authored by Catherine Durose, Lucy Kimbell, Ramia Mazé, and Liz Richardson.

Andrew Knight , Head of the cross-government Policy Design Community highlighted the value of this intervention in ’raising the waterline’ by enhancing the credibility and providing external validation of the significant potential of design within policymaking.

Professor Christopher Smith , Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council also strongly welcomed the report and emphasised the contribution that design can make to addressing tensions in government between long-term responses to wicked challenges, and the short-term necessities of governing.

Lady Rachel Cooper OBE , Distinguished Professor of Design Management and Policy at Lancaster University and a Director of ImaginationLancaster , agreed with the recommendations to help the field come into maturity from its ’teenage’ years. Dr Jonathan Carr-West , Chief Executive of the Local Government Information Unit argued that design has a critical role to play in meeting the significant challenges of service delivery, but needs to be able do so in a way that recognises the hard realities of funding.

The report proposes a research agenda that deepens understanding of: (1) the extent of design in policymaking, (2) how design’s distinctiveness can be applied through different types of design, (3) its impact, and (4) different relationships between design and policy. The launch events recognised design as an innovative approach to policymaking, while highlighting that it is not always well understood by policymakers. To this end, the report provides a basis for staking out the future directions of design research and policymaking.