What Can Non-Expert Stakeholders Contribute to Data-Driven Decisions

Title: What Can Non-Expert Stakeholders Contribute to Data-Driven Decisions – Legitimacy? Local Knowledge? Lay Expertise?: Instrumentalist vs. Democratic Frameworks for Participatory Design

Abstract: Lay stakeholder participation in policy making and design processes is typically justified according to a range of instrumentalist outcomes: 1) enhancing the legitimacy of resultant outcomes (regardless of whether those outcomes were in any way inflected by lay participation); 2) providing detailed knowledge of local conditions that external experts might otherwise miss; and 3) even contributing a unique type of expertise grounded in “lay knowledge systems” that is distinct from that of traditionally-trained experts. A distinct rationale for stakeholder inclusion arises from democratic theory and the rights of impacted stakeholders to participate in the making of decisions that impact them. This presentation will provide an overview of a classic policy-making framework—Lindblom and Woodhouse’s 1992 Policy-Making Process—that interweaves instrumentalist logics with rights-based justifications for democratic decision making. It then illustrates the interplay of these alternative justifications within design studies traditions and argues that instrumentalist approaches have come to eclipse rights-based discourses around stakeholder participation in design approaches more broadly.

Dean Nieusma

Dean Nieusma

Biography: Dean Nieusma is Division Director and Associate Professor of Engineering, Design, & Society at the Colorado School of Mines. He received his Ph.D. in science and technology studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering and general studies from the University of Michigan. His research focuses on integrating social and technical dimensions of engineering in education and practice, with a focus on design and project-based learning. He is also broadly interested in the social and ethical implications of technologies and the application of engineering and design expertise to enduring social and environmental problems. He has received several awards and fellowships for research, teaching, and service, including a Fulbright fellowship (Sri Lanka) and, most recently, ASEE’s Olmsted Award for contributions to the liberal education of engineers.