Response to Design Observer's "Ethnographic Turn in Design"
Making up for posting neglect

Designers designing public policy

On Friday, my AD502 Design and Governmentality co-participants delivered their final policy proposals. This class is another one of my experimentations in transdisciplinary knowledge in this case design and political science. The final presentations of the class were amazing. Each student had 15 minutes to present and 5 minutes for Q&A. We had guests come and evaluate their presentations including:

  • Randall Mark, Cook County Bureau for Health Services;
  • Dr. Rachel Bronson, Chicago Council on Global Affairs;
  • Carmelina Piedra, Regional Transit Authority;
  • Doris Wells-Papanek, Tailored Learning Tools;
  • Tasneem Chowdhury, UIC; 
  • Maria Lydia Spinelli, Chicago Association for the Practice of Anthropology;
  • Craig Stehle, Northwestern University;
  • a colleague from the Field Museum, and
  • other UIC MFA students.

The visitors quickly engaged with the policies enough to provide very challenging questions to the students, who answered with expertise and authority. One guest made an interesting comment to me that it was unusual how the students saw the Federal government as providing many of the solutions and were not afraid to raise taxes to fund policies. This guest continued to point out how that the shift had to do with the students now seeing themselves as part of the government. Other general comments about the afternoon were how fun the presentations and innovative the students' policy solutions were. Their enthusiasm and creative expression made it fun, which attests to the power of effective visual communications. Their solutions were innovative because they pushed themselves really hard to think outside the general policy box of instruments. Being artists and designers, they were not hampered by the toolkit of policy instruments.

Most importantly for me is that the student's developed the confidence to contribute to policy formation as citizens. When we originally proposed writing policy proposals for the midterms and finals, the students fears were palpable. As one students stated, they thought they would just do mock information campaigns. They conducted very through research on the problems, but struggled with finding the win-win solutions that encompassed just policy.  It was only in the last couple of weeks that it clicked. Thus, many of the students came up with clear win-win solutions which I hope to be able to carry forward.  With some polishing and finding the right sponsors, these students could really make a difference. I feel already that the course has made a difference in terms of their relationship to governance, the role of designing in policy (beyond the information campaign), and again, their sense of being engaged citizens in understanding and using policy to make the world a better place.

Below is the summary of the student's policy and solution, with their presentation documents (as opposed to final papers) so a lot of the detail is missing, but I want to share a sense of the flavor of their engagement.  I am so deeply deeply proud of them, as I hope they are with themselves.

Please note that their policies presentations are copyrighted material.  Free for own personal use, but please give the students credit if referring to their thinking and visualization.

1:10pm – 2:10 pm Group 1: Policies to Support Self-Governance

01_Daniel Diprizio Keep the Air Free 

Download DDiprizi0 Air Free (PDF 1.4 MB)

Government imposition of standards for controlling youth access to the Internet.
Solution: Enable parents to establish own enforceable standards and penalize parents, though family community service activities, whose children violate those standards.

02_Leilah Rampa Find Your Way Act

Download LRampa_Find Way (PDF 844 Kb)

Problem: Transit navigation systems does not take into account the variability of people's information needs.
Solution: Develop Chicago Public Navigation Institute to fund and support neighborhood research and development to improve transit navigation information systems.

03_Jonathan Sangster Free Speech Zone Abolition Act 

Download JSangster_Free Speech (PDF 1.4 MB)

State and local interference with Protest Free Speech through zoning, permits, and laws.
Establishment of consistent Federal guidelines for protest free speech, removal of laws and permits used to curtail free speech, and creation of special Protest Police Force trained in handling protests and protecting protester rights.

2:15pm – 3:00pm Group 2: Policies for Children's Wellness

04_Chris Kalis Building by Design

Download CKalis_BuildbyDesign (PDF 3.9 MB)

Lack of funding for Chicago Public Schools to improve the library learning environment for students.
Create a "Extreme Makeover" public show that allows designers and architects to compete for the best makeover designs of public schools in collaboration with businesses, students, parents, school boards, and communities.

05_Sara Bassick Talk to Your Daughters 

Download SBassick_TalkDaughters (PDF 2.2 MB)

Possible implementation of mandatory Gardasil vaccination for girls will  not reduce controversy or communicate to girls in appropriate manner.
Develop information policy that locates and times the information about the vaccine in both the school as part of sex education/health education and the doctors office to provide differentiated experience for girls.

3:10 – 4:10 pm Group 3: Policies to Support Diversity and Inclusion

06_Dan Elliott Bring Back the Beat Cop

Download DElliott_Beatcop (PDF 284 Kb)

Problem: Racial profiling injustly punishes people of color and leads to lack of trust between police and communities  without necessarily reducing crime.
Ban racial profiling, old and outdated laws that policy can use to pull people over, and community digital survellience cameras. Replace them with beat cops by offering training and incentives for policy to move into high crime neighborhoods.

07_Grav Weldon Operation Transformation

Download GWeldon OpTransform (PDF 480 Kb)

Eliminate in both adults and children the mass psyche of prejudice and promote cultural and racial tolerance and justice
For adults, develop a large scale tolerance information/propaganda campaign. For children, Federalize the schools and the equalize the apportioning of funds per student, increase busing to achieve diversity metrics, have school uniforms and cultures of exhange, and  set up intercultural arts programs.

08_Gretchen Schulfer Immigration Piggy Bank

Download GSchulfer impiggybank (PDF 3.3 Mb)

US Immigration and Citizenship Services are increasing the naturalization fees for immigrants by 66% to $480, creating a barrier for immigrants to lawfully gain citizenship.
Audit the USICS to find inefficiencies, have AIGA and UPA develop design standards to reduce errors, and establish micro-lending Immigration Piggy Bank to allow people to sponsor immigrant fees.

4:20pm – 5:20pm Group 4: Policies for Building Community

09_Dave Pabellon Now You See Me, Now You Don't

Download DPabellon_censusdata (PDF 14.4 MB)

There are block zones which consistently are not counted in the US Census, leading to lack of trust and lack of knowledge about how Census benefits local community members.
Develop locality based visualizations of Census data that is accessible to citizens and is sent in a mailing to each citizen.

10_Michael Ruberto Growing Money on Trees

Download MRuberto MoneyTrees (PDF 336 Kb)

There is a lack of research and information about the effectiveness of complementary currencies for building up small local economies.
Develop research on the effectiveness of curriences as well as develop information campaign standards to communicate value of money, complementary curriences, and its local value.

11_Jessica Schnepf Get In, Get Ou

Download JSchnepf_homeless_services (PDF 1.4 Mb)

Current City of Chicago Homeless efforts does not focus on  providing everyday services to the homeless on a voluntary basis
Support the establishment of systems for local volunteers to provide educational and health services to the homeless on a daily basis through the coordination of efforts.


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