Policy isn’t just political power wielded for a remote and abstract public—it’s also felt and enacted on individual bodies in a form of policy entanglement. However, the complexity of government policy- and service-delivery systems often allows policymakers to practice at a remove from the individuals their policy efforts most directly affect.
This talk explores what mental models or frames policymakers can use to scrutinize the power they exercise as it relates to individuals’ felt experiences. Drawing from more than a decade of the Public Policy Lab’s work with federal and municipal agencies, as well as with low-income and historically marginalized Americans, Mauldin highlights approaches to assessing if and how current programs recognise their responsibility to engage with the unique particularity of each human they serve: the moral requirement of entanglement.
She also proposes frames for more entangled policy futures: what tools we could use, in the context of refurbishing or developing new policies, to generate and implement radically more human social systems—ones that support emotion, sensation, and ambiguity.
Chelsea Mauldin is a social scientist and designer with a focus on government innovation. She is an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs and a frequent keynote speaker and panellist. Previously, she consulted for municipal and federal agencies, directed a community development organisation, led government partnerships at a public-space advocacy nonprofit, and served as an editor for publishing, arts, and digital media organisations. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the London School of Economics.
She directs the Public Policy Lab, a nonprofit organization that designs better public policy with low-income and marginalized Americans. The Public Policy Lab partners with government agencies and NGOs to develop more satisfying and effective policies and service delivery through ethnographic research, human-centred design, rapid prototyping, and formative evaluation.