Working at the Boundaries of Policymaking and HCI

Timeframe: 2017-2020

This PhD research led by Anne Spaa looks at ‘the boundaries between policy making and human-computer interaction’. It explores opportunities for the continuing development of speculative Research through Design approaches within the HCI research community to inform the use of design-led approaches in the public policymaking sector.  Taking a design research approach, the research looks at how design methods are adapted to fit UK public policy making practices. In parallel, we look into how speculative design research methods are adapted to fit human-computer interaction research practices.

In an initial study, interviews were conducted with think tanks, civil servants, and HCI-researchers whose professional practices sits somewhere in this boundary-space between policymaking and human-computer interaction. (Link to paper.) A second study includes a two-month placement with Policy Lab at the UK Cabinet Office (in Central Government) to ethnographically explore how the civil service applies human-centered design approaches to ‘open up’ policy making processes and engage with citizens and policymakers. A continuation of this study focusses on exploring and testing HCI-inspired design tools for the ‘open policy making toolkit’.