The Policy Studio is a university-wide endeavor which focuses on finding innovative solutions to complex, systemic, or resilient problems through the use of the strategic design method. It integrates disciplinary and interdisciplinary expertise from across UBC faculties and departments. The Policy Studio is based at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, the UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA).
As change becomes more unpredictable and rapid, we need to update our ways of developing and implementing policy. Challenging problems need not just multi-disciplinary ‘experts’ but also everyone who has a stake in an issue. And when we bring multi-sectoral actors together, a clear process framework is essential so there are results, not just more talk.
~ Moura Quayle, Professor of Strategic Design and Director pro tem (2017-2019), UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs
The Policy Studio:
- Focuses on complex and wicked systemic problems;
- Is solution oriented – emphasizing policy design, development and, most importantly, implementation;
- Has a strategic focus on interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research, including policy design research, policy learning research, and the exploration and development of innovative methods of academic inquiry;
- Facilitates knowledge mobilization and knowledge exchange; and,
- Is public good oriented, incorporating an international and global focus.
Strategic Design Method
The Policy Studio is built on the strategic design method – a participatory process rooted in user research where at its best, multi-disciplinary teams blend creative and critical-thinking techniques to explore, co-create, prototype, and launch resilient solutions to big picture challenges.
The Strategic Design method was developed first in the d.studio of UBC – Sauder School of Business and then successfully extended to university wide interdisciplinary projects inside and outside the academic domain. Currently, the strategic design methods serves both the Policy Studio (Arts & Social Sciences) and the d.studio (School of Business) at the University of British Columbia.
ASK: The strategic design method integrates three key distinctive phases, the ASK phase relates to problem understanding, analyzing cause, symptoms, and consequences of a certain identified problem and incorporates diverse disciplinary approaches for a thorough analysis. It focuses on user-centred understanding of experiences to capture both observations and insights. This phase aims to develop empathy with the current and potential user of a service to generate preliminary options that will be tested or piloted in the TRY phase.
TRY: This second phase focuses on deeper exploration of options, scenarios, and draft proposals; it includes a series of lean or fast prototypes responding to the needs of having researchable models to test and compare.
DO: The third phase known as DO deals with the decision making, implementation and evaluation of the outputs, product, service, or policy. All the phases incorporates a deep dive of problem understanding, innovation intents, and reflection time throughout a whole iterative process.
The strategic design method is a highly participative oriented pedagogy, it engages participants with a variety of stakeholders including academics, thematic experts, users, and representatives from the diverse body of stakeholders. The flexibility of the application of the method makes it suitable for a short period “challenges”, or a full undergraduate or graduate course.
The following courses incorporate strategic design as a pedagogical approach:
- ASTU 204D: Introduction to Strategic Design
- ASTU 401G: Wicked Problems in Community Development
- COMM388: Design Strategies for Business Innovation
- GPP 590: Global Policy Project (Graduate level)
- UBC’s Sauder MBA & executive courses. (Graduate level)
Professor Moura Quayle
Moura was the founding Director pro tem (2017-2019) of UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and teaches in the Sauder School of Business. Moura’s interests lie in rethinking, refining and rebuilding collaborative spaces at the intersections of academia, government, business and civil society. Learn more about her work here.
Dr. Marcelo Bravo
Marcelo is the Policy Studio research lead. His research looks at co-designing inter-sectoral partnerships amongst academia and stakeholders through knowledge mobilization processes, to maximize the impact of knowledge and research. In recent years, he has worked with Moura Quayle to develop the Policy Studio, seeking to extend the scope of the strategic design method and its applications in the public realm in Canada and abroad. Marcelo has experience working in social policy, NGOs, civic groups, and academic institutions in three countries. He brings a unique international, pedagogical, interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary experience to policy and complex problems. Marcelo holds a Master in Prospective Studies and Strategy at Tec de Monterrey – Graduate School of Public Policy, Mexico, and has completed his PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies (Policy and Social Innovation), at the UBC Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program.
Examples of work in the last three years:
A) Strategic Design for Complex Problems at UAM – Mexico
B) Co-Creating the UBC Knowledge Exchange. A collaborator in the UBC Innovation Hub
Download the Co-Creating the UBC Knowledge Exchange. A collaborator in the UBC Innovation Hub report here.
C) Re-Envisioning ISGP: Exploring Opportunities for the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program
D) Enhancing KMb@UBC
Download the Enhancing KMb@UBC report here.
E) Resilient Cities Policy Challenge
Download the Resilient Cities Policy Challenge Ideabook here.
F) Tec de Monterrey Strategic Design Sessions
G) Policy Studio in Ottawa