Global Design Thinking Workshop: Local policy-making

From 7-30th September, the HPI School of Design Thinking facilitated the Global Design Thinking Workshop "Designing for Global Impact". Six international student teams virtually worked on a design challenge about local policy-making together with our project partner Bündnis 90/Die Grünen Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.


Design Thinking Team

Including citizens in policy-making is an important part of democracy and yet can be a challenging process for parties and governments. At the Global Design Thinking Workshop, six international student teams considered local policy-making, citizen engagement, and party discourse as a design process to find solutions for our design challenge: "Design new ways to attract and retain more people in general and especially those with diverse backgrounds becoming actively involved in local politics in 2021 and beyond". Their aim was to design solutions for a global problem and translate them to make an impact on the local level.

Experience Design Thinking in the virtual space

Over three and a half weeks the students worked together across time zones with a team of experienced Design Thinking coaches from Egypt, Germany, Malaysia and South Africa.

As a central point for course information and materials we used the online learning platform openHPI. During the live workshop days, all participants and coaches met on Zoom for plenary sessions as well as virtual team work in breakout rooms. To replace the physical information room, the teams used the platform Miro, which allows simple and intuitive collaboration with sticky notes, photos, text or graphics in real time, just like on a whiteboard.

Virtual Whiteboard of the GDTW


Ideas for more community engagement on the local level

Using this toolset, our student teams developed a creative set of human-centered solution ideas for their design challenge and presented them to our project partner. One team suggested creating an interactive art installation in the form of a mural as a place and opportunity to foster community engagement. People from the district can meet local politicians and together they can visualize their wishes for the future. Another student team proposed using role plays in official meetings of the local party to create more empathy in discussions.

In light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, other teams mostly focused on digital solutions. This starts with the need for an informal place for exchange in the digital space, a student team found. To compliment physical party meetings, members can engage on a digital platform to discuss and make basic democratic decisions.

Another team prototyped an app to increase the involvement and participation of young party members by matching their interests with existing workgroups. Moreover, one team found that there is a gap between new party members who would like to become engaged but are not sure how, and active long-time members. Therefore, they ideated a party peer program for new members to find mentors and strengthen the local peer to peer community.


GDTW Team with Coach

Our project partners thanked the teams for thinking outside the box and considering the challenges of digitalization while developing their solutions.

The Global Design Thinking Week (GDTW) is the introductory Design Thinking study program designed by the HPI School of Design Thinking. This Introductory program offers students a first-hand experience of Design Thinking as a human-centered approach to solve complex innovation problems with a creative mindset in diverse teams. The program consists of five different workshops that offer deep dives into the most important aspects of the Design Thinking approach.

The next Global Design Thinking Workshop will take place in March 2021, applications will open at the end of November 2020.