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Visualizing policy design

In my AD502 Design and Governmentality class last Friday, we read Ann Schneider and Helen Ingram's Policy Design for Democracy and Mitchell Dean's Governmentality. Since all of the students are graphic design or electronic visualization MFAs, they complained about the vocabulary of the texts being too "bourgeous, intellectual, not user friendly." In other words, the vocabulary was not their patois, but someone else's.

After I gently reminded them that they, as designers, have the responsibility of translating messages among different langauges and thus need to know this vocab, they changed their tune. But they really had a hard time understanding the ideas in these two very academic texts.

So I used the World Cafe approach to get the students to discuss the ideas.

According to the World Cafe approach:
1. You set them up people in groups of four at a table.

2. You give them papers, markers, and other materials for writing and drawing. In the World Cafe world, this is accomplished through paper tablecloths.

3. Over a series of 3 rounds (each lasting 20-30 minutes), you give them a question (or a series of questions) and have them discuss, sketch, write, sing, however they chose to express themselves, the topic.

4. After the first round, there is one person who is the keeper of the conversation; the rest rotate to other tables.

5. The idea is to cross-pollinate ideas from one group to another and then have a group sharing.

I walked the students through the process and they produced these sketches, which forced them to grapple with the issues by trying to visualize them. Since I have an EV student, he produced a 3D animated model on the fly.

Below are some of the sketches:

 
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Comments

Dori

Unfortunately no one sang, but I think you need a real cafe environment with wine or beer for that to happen. BTW, I loved the tax forms on your blog. You seem to share an interest, perhaps you want to join our design policy yahoo group?

james

hey cool, nice reply to their complaints. looks like you got some interesting results as well. Did anyone sing:) a reply?

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