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Course Detail

Course Name Policy & Design Thinking
Course Code 24SDS603
Program M.Sc. in Social Data Science & Policy
Semester III
Credits 4
Campus Faridabad


Unit I

Introduction to Design Thinking. History & fundamentals. Relevance of design thinking in public policy. Participatory design and co-production. Public policy frameworks and participatory design. Rationale and ethical dimension of co-production.

Unit II

Empathy & Ethnography. Understanding users and their needs. Defining the problem statement. Ethnographic research methods in the context of policy formulation. Ideation and Creativity in Policy Design. Brainstorming and divergent thinking. Techniques for generating innovative policy ideas. Convergent thinking and selecting the best ideas.

Unit III

Prototyping Policy Solutions. Low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes. Testing and refining policy solutions. Policy experimentation and adaptive policymaking. Policy Implementation and Scaling. Overcoming barriers to policy implementation. Scaling policy solutions effectively. Monitoring, evaluation, and learning.

Unit IV

Collaborative Design and Multi-Stakeholder Engagement. Co-design and co-production in public policy. Engaging stakeholders and building partnerships. Managing conflicts and facilitating consensus. Institutionalization for Systematic Design Thinking. Importance of values to anchor innovation. Regulatory impact analysis. Public-private partnerships.

Unit V

Communication and Storytelling in Policy Design. Crafting compelling policy narratives. Visual communication and data visualization for policy-making. Presenting policy ideas and proposals effectively.


Prerequisite: NA

Summary: This course introduces students to the principles of design thinking and their application in the field of public policy. The course begins by outlining the concept of co-production: solutions to social problems often cannot be simply handed down to end-users, but need to be produced by the end-users themselves interacting with the supplier of the solution. Applying the tools of design thinking and qualitative methods students will learn to better diagnose the end-users’ actual needs and preferences and use these insights to develop feasible policy options. Since many societal challenges represent “wicked problems” with many interdependent factors and stakeholders, a significant part of the course is dedicated to the exploration of methodologies of collective decision-making. The students will learn to apply tools of creative problem solving and consensus building to design and implement policies in a complex multi stakeholder context. Real world examples through case studies will be used for contextualized understanding.

Course Objectives and Outcomes

Course Objectives:

  1. To gain a basic understanding of the principles and concepts of co-production and design thinking in the context of public policy.
  2. To develop a critical understanding of how to apply design thinking methodologies to policy challenges.
  3. To understand how to evaluate the effectiveness of design thinking in addressing complex policy issues.
  4. To gain knowledge and tools to collaborate effectively in interdisciplinary teams to co-create innovative policy solutions.
  5. To be able to communicate policy ideas and proposals effectively using various forms of media.

Course Outcomes:

  • CO1: Develop a mindset necessary for effective design thinking, such as divergent and convergent thinking, empathetic thinking, ethnographic approach, adaptive policy-making, etc.
  • CO2: Apply tools of design thinking to formulate policy solutions to complex societal challenges.
  • CO3: Be able to explain and advocate for design thinking in a team or organizational context.
  • CO4: Evaluate policy impact and show how ethnographic research can be translated into policy action.
  • CO5: Formulate recommendations to improve decision-making and performance across an organization or chosen area of policy analysis based on the principles of design thinking.


  • Systems thinking: mastering the ability to understand and analyze complex systems to identify leverage points for policy interventions.
  • User research: Proficiency in conducting qualitative research methods to understand the needs, preferences, and behaviors of diverse stakeholders.
  • Ethnographic research: gaining expertise in immersive fieldwork methods to uncover deep insights into the lived experiences of communities affected by policy decisions.
  • Policy implementation: developing skills in project management and stakeholder engagement to ensure effective implementation of policy interventions.

-Program outcome PO – Course Outcomes CO Mapping


Program Specific Outcomes PSO – Course Objectives – Mapping


Evaluation Pattern:

Assessment Internal External
Midterm Exam 30
*Continuous Assessment (CA) 20
End Semester 50

*CA – Can be Quizzes, Assignment, Projects, and Reports, and Seminar

Textbooks and Papers

  • Bason, C. (2016). Design for policy. Routledge.
  • Brown, T. (2009), Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation, HarperCollins.
  • Moore, M. H. (1995). Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government. Harvard University Press.

Reference Books

  • Ansell, C., & Gash, A. (2008). Collaborative Governance in Theory and Practice. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 18(4), 543-571.
  • Bason, C. (2010), Leading Public Sector Innovation: Co-creating for a Better Society. Policy Press.
  • Boyle, D., J. Slay and L. Stephens (2010), Public Services Inside- Out: Putting Co-production into Practice, The Lab, Nesta.
  • Brown, T. and J. Wyatt (2010), “Design Thinking for social innovation”, in Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter, pp.30-37.
  • Carstensen, H.V. and C. Bason (2012), “Powering collaborative policy innovation: Can innovation labs help?”, in The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, Vol.17/1, article 4.
  • European Commission (2009a), Impact Assessment Guidelines, SEC(2009) 92 of 15 January 2009.
  • European Commission (2009b), Design as a Driver of User-centred Innovation, Commission Staff working Document, SWD(2009) 501 final of 7 April 2009.
  • European Commission (2012), Design for Growth & Prosperity, Report and Recommendations of the European Design Leadership Board, European Design Innovation Initiative.
  • European Commission (2013), Implementing an Action Plan for Design-Driven Innovation, Commission Staff working Document, SWD(2013) 380 final of 23 September 2013.
  • Hahn R.W. and P.C. Tetlock (2007), “Has Economic Analysis Improved Regulatory Decisions?”, in Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol.22/1, pp.67-84.
  • Homes, B. (2011), Citizens’ Engagement in Policymaking and the Design of Public Services, Parliamentary Library Research Paper 01, Parliament of Australia.
  • Høyrup, S. (2010). “Employee-driven innovation and workplace learning: Basic concepts, approaches and themes”, in Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, Vol.16/2, pp.143-154.
  • Mintrom, M., & Luetjens, J. (2016). Design Thinking in Policymaking Processes: Opportunities and Challenges. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 75(3), 391-402.
  • Sanders, E. And P.J. Stappers (2008), “Co-creation and the new landscape of Design”, in CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and Arts, Vol.4/1, pp.5-18.
  • Voorberg, W. H., Bekkers, V. J. J. M., & Tummers, L. G. (2015). A Systematic Review of Co-Creation and Co-Production: Embarking on the social innovation journey. Public Management Review, 17(9), 1333-1357.

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