What will I learn?


What happens when new technology is developed so quickly that society isn’t sure if it poses an opportunity or a danger? How should we regulate it when there are real risks but also real potential for societal benefit—both of which are hard to measure? For example, scientists are genetically engineering disease-carrying mosquitoes to wipe out their own species, but we know little about the long-term environmental consequences of this approach. Should this research and application be permitted? Who decides?

These kinds of dilemmas are arising now in bioengineering, information technology, and beyond. The scientific and policy communities are trying to address these issues, but the clash of cultures between a fast-moving innovation mindset and a risk-averse safety and security mindset affects how this work progresses.

In this experimental class you will explore how design thinking can be used to reinvent a policy ecosystem by focusing on the challenge policymakers face in trying to establish new rules and/or standards that they hope a wide variety of constituent groups will accept and follow — and will keep pace with future innovations. This is a new approach to a critical problem: you must be willing to dig into unknown territory. If you’re looking for a survey course in design methods, this class is not for you.

Teaching Team

Erik Olesund, d.school
Jeremy Weinstein, Political Science
Sarah Stein Greenberg, d.school
Megan Palmer, Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC)