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Public Collaboration Lab Research Methodology

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posted on 2024-05-31, 09:57 authored by Adam Thorpe

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council the Public Collaboration Lab began as an 18 month participatory action research project in 2015-16. The project explored the question: ‘How can design education and local government work together to improve outcomes for citizens?’

It developed a prototype that was:

– A model for a way of working that could be trialled and tested
– A space for experiential learning and experimentation
– A space for learning together by doing together


It aimed to:

– Increase understanding of design universities’ role in supporting innovation practices within local government, through design-led action research
– Explore the potential for co-designing to democratize public service and policy innovation and improve public outcomes
– Evaluate the role and impact of design in local government service reform
– Propose means by which effective practices might be scaled up and scaled out within other contexts


Research activities included a literature review of relevant research and an online survey and exploratory interviews with design academics and local government officers with experience of local government/design education collaboration. Also, a series of expert workshops involving participants from local government, design education and elsewhere, focused on topics arising from the research.

Central to the research was the co-design and delivery of 6 ‘collaborative design experiments’ ranging from 4 weeks to 6 months in duration. These ‘collaborative design experiments’ are shared in the ‘projects’ section of this website.

The research methodology is illustrated in this diagram.

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