Policy Innovation Lab


Units: 6


The Policy Innovation Lab is a new initiative that connects students with actual policy challenges and introduces an agile, design-driven framework to rapidly create solutions to those challenges. This course is an experiment in improving public policy through by working outside the traditional structures of government.  For Fall 2019, the Policy Innovation Lab will be partnering with Metro21 to investigate smart city policy challenges across five different municipalities.  Students will be investigating a number of problem spaces and building policy-driven prototypes driven by user research.

Students will work to solve pressing challenges by redefining the problem in terms of understanding the affected users of systems, conducting user-centered research, designing solutions, testing those same solutions, and iteratively improving those outcomes. This course is designed to take advantage of recent lessons learned in applied innovation in government entities around the world. The actual outcomes will be heavily dependent on both the needs of the problem sets for each course as well as the skills of the students. The course will apply some methodologies commonplace in industry like agile, design-thinking, and open source to deliver products and services that have the potential to live on beyond the course. For public-facing projects, work will be done in a transparent manner where possible in order to encourage external participation.

Students will be expected to embrace a culture that expects and encourages rapid iteration, express a willingness to fail early in order to discover a solution that ultimately works, and a flat structure that provides students with an opportunity to deliver for our government partners.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Identify how innovation in government can benefit from agile methodologies and iterative design strategies. 
  2. Identify when user centered design can help deliver a better experience for citizens. 
  3. Apply agile and lean methods to make cross-disciplinary teams functional. 
  4. Deliver final deliverables, apply best practices, and justify design decisions.
  5. Develop and present a narrative suitable for a subject audience for a selected topic.