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Design and Policy Network

stencils of numbers graffitti
stencils of numbers graffitti
Stencils of numbers graffiti by Divya Sharma, BA (Hons) Fine Art: Painting, Wimbledon College of Arts, Copyright: Alys Tomlinson.

A multi-disciplinary network bringing together researchers and practitioners exploring and developing new forms of public policy design

Project duration: May 2022 - November 2023
Funded by: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Project summary

Design practices and methods, and professional designers, are increasingly visible in public policy processes in national, regional and local government as well as in broader policy ecosystems in particular public service design. The outcomes, consequences and implications of this development are as yet little discussed.

In design research, and in political science, recent research has attempted to bridge this divide with nascent research communities in the form of special interest groups and conference panels. This 18-month network brings together these two academic constituencies in a systematic way along with those working in practice to identify the tensions and resistances between the 2 domains, identify potential where capacities of design can be more effectively leveraged, and map out an agenda for future research, practice and knowledge exchange.

Project team

Principal Investigator: Professor Lucy Kimbell, Professor of Contemporary Design Practices, UAL

Co-Principal Investigator: Professor Liz Richardson, Professor of Public Administration, Department of Politics, Manchester University

Steering Group:

  • Dr Jocelyn Bailey, UAL
  • Professor Catherine Durose, Professor of Public Policy and Co-Director of the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place, University of Liverpool
  • Daniella Jenkins, Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Bristol
  • Professor Ramia Mazé, London College of Communication, UAL
  • Dr Niall Sreenan, Policy Institute, Kings College London
  • Dr Anna Whicher, PDR, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Advisory Board:

  • Dr Camilla Buchanan, Co-head, Policy Lab, Department for Education, UK
  • Dr Carla Groom, Deputy Director, Behavioural Science team, Department of Work and Pensions, UK
  • Dr Paola Pierri, Head of Design and Research, Democratic Society (Berlin)
  • Professor Michael Saward, Warwick University, UK

Project aims

The aim of the network is to (a) consolidate and (b) better articulate the emerging relations between research and practice in design and public policy processes producing a novel, evidence-based and contextual understanding of the potential for design for policy.

Specifically, it will summarise tensions and resistance in the application of design, identify opportunities which could better leverage the distinctive capacities of design within public policy processes, including advancing their democratisation, and propose a future agenda at the intersection of design research and studies of political science/public policy, with recommendations for future research investment and policy making practice.


Organised through 4 workshops (2 in London and 2 in Manchester), alongside digital interactions with sustained engagement with civil servants and others in the policy ecosystem engaged in developing novel forms of public policy design, the network will identify and examine current tensions and opportunities and propose areas for further collaboration, experimentation and investment.

The network complements other initiatives in academia and practice by critically examining the concepts and methodologies at the intersection of design and political science, as well as identifying untapped potential for using design in public policy.

By building capacity across and within research communities, alongside practice, new understandings as well as new projects can be developed. This is relevant and timely as social and public policy issues require new forms of public administration practice, changes to institution design, ways of engaging with publics and forms of democratic debate.

Network members include established researchers, ECRs and PhD students, as well as practitioners working in government departments, think tanks, consultancies and civil society organisations, from the UK and working internationally. The network is open to all – please get in touch with the PI Lucy Kimbell to find out more.


To connect with other network members please visit the LinkedIn Design and Policy Network page. Requires a LinkedIn account.

All welcome, particularly practitioner and academic researchers.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please email Professor Lucy Kimbell:

Upcoming events

Past events