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Citizen Designers in Participatory Policy-Making: A Case of ProtoPolicy in Malaysia




On the 12th of December 2019, Dr. Emmanuel Tsekleves of ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University delivered his guest lecture on Citizen Designers in Participatory Policy-Making: A Case of ProtoPolicy in Malaysia while visiting RDI. His presentation emphasises on the speculative design, which is a design methodology which allows individuals to have far-reaching future-oriented approach. The speculative design is divided into probable, plausible and possible future. The methodology also allows citizens to take part in designing policy to anticipate what is expected to happen in the future, one of which is through creating prototypes. Sharing the implementation of this design to his current research project in Malaysia, this methodology and approach can serve as political engagement tool that could change attitudes of general public towards the policy process.

Through his presentation, Dr. Emmanuel Tsekleves elaborates on how the key benefits of speculative design includes the development of a more enhanced understanding of complex services, therefore the use of speculative design can be a tool for reflection and interrogation of future possibilities within groups in charge of policy-making. Moreover, speculative design encourages and enables citizens to raise ethics-related questions that may not have been possible through a typical debate. The design can also help negotiate peoples’ understanding as well as questioning entrenched positions that may lead to positional shift.



Dr. Emmanuel Tsekleves (middle) taking group photo with RDI Team

For the case in Malaysia, Dr. Emmanuel Tsekleves and the team worked on the ImaginAging project which explored how might speculative design enable citizens and governments in Malaysia engage in policy agenda setting on ageing well in an urban city environment. Health was highlighted as the primary area of interest for senior citizens, followed by independent living. As for the issue concerning health, a group from among the workshop participants chose to focus on reducing sugar consumption in all foods. As a result, despite of the participants’ initial reluctance, they were able to use speculative design to arrive at a successful outcome as in creating future that they would want to live in themselves as well as for the next generation.