Lab Design: Bringing Agility and Empiricism to Public Problems

  • Online
  • For Certification
Starts the week of

April 6 - 10

Course ends on

May 29, 2015

Application Deadline

March 13, 2015

Are you…

  • Seeking to start a social or public “lab” within a public sector institution or working on pressing public interest problems?
  • Do you already work in a Public Lab but want to expand your work to include new approaches or new domains?
  • Seeking to learn more about how to apply experimental methods to address social and public challenges?

Course Description

Although there is no one shared definition of what constitutes a social or public lab, the “lab approach” might be expected to include experimentation in a safe space at one remove from everyday reality, with the goal of generating useful ideas that address social needs and demonstrating their effectiveness in practice There are several hundred ‘living labs’, mainly technology based, and enabling some user input to shaping technologies. More recently, labs of various kinds have spread into governments, some using design methods to better understand needs and opportunities, some focused on data, or using challenges to elicit ideas. Aimed at those teams and individuals who are actively starting or running social or public labs, this four week program combines online discussion and skill-building among diverse peers and with expert coaches. The program provides frequent and constructive feedback to help deepen and improve Lab practice.

Course Format

1 faculty-led session every other week for 2 hours (one hour is with a guest expert and one hour is an all-group session); and a personalized schedule of peer-to-peer and one-on-one coaching sessions

Course Duration: 8 weeks

More information


Faculty Members

Geoff Mulgan

Chief Executive of NESTA

Geoff Mulgan CBE (born 1961) is Chief Executive of the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA)[1] and Visiting Professor at University College London, the London School of Economics, the University of Melbourne and a regular lecturer at the China Executive Leadership Academy. He is an adviser to many governments around the world, and has been a board member of the Work Foundation, the Health Innovation Council, Political Quarterly and the Design Council, and chair of Involve. He is also currently chair of the Studio Schools Trust and the Social Innovation Exchange. His recent books include The Art of Public Strategy - Mobilising Power and Knowledge for the Public Good, Good and Bad Power: the ideals and betrayals of government and Connexity. His latest book The Locust and the Bee was published by Princeton University Press in March 2013. Read more on some of the ideas Geoff has been involved in over the years.

Beth Simone Noveck

Founder of The GovLab

Beth Simone Noveck directs The Governance Lab and its MacArthur Research Network on Opening Governance. Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and, the GovLab strives to improve people’s lives by changing how we govern. The GovLab designs and tests technology, policy and strategies for fostering more open and collaborative approaches to strengthen the ability of people and institutions to work together to solve problems, make decisions, resolve conflict and govern themselves more effectively and legitimately. The Jerry Hultin Global Network Visiting Professor at New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering, she was formerly the Jacob K. Javits Visiting Professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and a visiting professor at the MIT Media Lab. Beth is a professor of law at New York Law School. She served in the White House as the first United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer and director of the White House Open Government Initiative (2009-2011). UK Prime Minister David Cameron appointed her senior advisor for Open Government, and she served on the Obama-Biden transition team. Among projects she’s designed or collaborated on are Unchat, The Do Tank, Peer To Patent,, and the Gov Lab’s Living Labs and training platform, The Academy. A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, she serves on the Global Commission on Internet Governance and chaired the ICANN Strategy Panel on Multi-Stakeholder Innovation. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Open Contracting Partnership. She was named one of the “Foreign Policy 100″ by Foreign Policy, one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company and one of the “Top Women in Technology” by Huffington Post. She has also been honored by both the National Democratic Institute and Public Knowledge for her work in civic technology. Beth is the author of Wiki Government: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger and Citizens More Powerful, which has also appeared in Arabic, Russian, Chinese and in an audio edition, and co-editor of The State of Play: Law, Games and Virtual Worlds. Her next book Smart Citizens: Smarter State will appear with Harvard University Press. She tweets @bethnoveck.

Joeri van den Steenhoven

Director of the MaRS Solutions Lab

Joeri van den Steenhoven is the Director of the MaRS Solutions Lab. He is a longtime social innovator fascinated by our society’s transition towards the knowledge society. Being a systems thinker, he likes to work on wicked problems and find innovative solutions with others. Joeri co-founded Kennisland, one of the leading change labs in the Netherlands and Europe. He also co-founded the KafkaBrigade, a research team that helps governments find and tackle red tape. He regularly advises, speaks and teaches on how to create system change. Joeri has worked with organizations like the Young Foundation (UK) and serves on the board of the Lisbon Council, the leading European thinktank on innovation and growth.

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