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Public and Collaborative: From participatory design to design for participation

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Current practices in design for the public sector involve collaboration with
public agencies, service providers, and the public to whom they are
accountable. This participatory design approach creates a unique space in
which government agents and the public are teaming together to create new
conditions to promote change that accounts for each others’ needs. Yet
despite the inclusion of multiple stakeholders in the design process, decisionmaking
for creating services and policies ultimately lies within the public
agency and is bound by policy mandates and political decisions. While much
has already been discussed about the transformative nature of design as a
source of innovation to the public sector, we build on this literature by
suggesting the need for designers to re-focus efforts on examining and redistributing
the decision-making processes, of creating stronger, more
responsive relationships with public officials by imagining new forms of
participation. We call this approach designing for participation. In this paper
we look at Public & Collaborative NYC1, a research program created by the
Parsons DESIS Lab at the New School2 to explore how co-governance, codesign,
and co-production approaches can provide better public services in
New York City. We examine initiatives individually and their attempts to
increase participation and trust between citizens, service providers,
community-based organizations, businesses, and government. We explore
their unique successes, as well as ways they could further help facilitate more
public participation and distributed decision-making.


PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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