Universita di Genova

Erin McAuliffe

PhD student in Design @ DPL
Politecnico di Milano

Erin McAuliffe

“The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently.” - David Graeber

  • Design for policy

    critiquing and extending the concept of design for policy

  • Policy entrepreneurship

    extending policy entrepreneurship to design for policy

  • Design activism

    relating design activism to policy entrepreneurship

About me

My research activities in brief

Interest in the use of design for policymaking has grown over the last decade; however, design for policy has not engaged substantially with theories of the policy process. My research takes ‘design for policy’ beyond public sector innovation labs and institutions to examine the role design is playing and theorise the role it might play in problem brokering and policy entrepreneurship activities. I draw on scholarship from public policy, as well as design activism and aesthetics.

Bio & resume

My background

My research career is built on two decades of public sector experience, first as a public servant in Australia’s state and federal governments (including at the Parliament of Australia and the Department of the Prime Minister & Cabinet), and later as a design consultant to governments in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, and international humanitarian NGOs. I hold a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Design and a Graduate Diploma in Public Administration.


Principal research interests

My principal research interests relate to the design and policymaking, including critical perspectives on ‘design for policy’. As part of my PhD research, I am also interested in design activism, aesthetics, and theories of the policy process. As part of the Design Policy Lab, I have carried out research and published on design and food policy in Italy. I collaborate with the Social Design Unit at Southern Denmark University, who hosted my research for a visiting period in early 2023.


Professional achievements

La Cucina Collaborativa (The Collaborative Kitchen), a project funded by EIT Food and carried out with Caritas Reggiana, was selected for the ADI Index 2022, the public presentation of the best Italian design selected by the ADI Permanent Design Observatory.


    Courses and teaching activities

    I have extensive experience educating and training public servants on design, including through Singapore’s Civil Service College. I co-facilitated a weeklong workshop for the Specialising Master in Design for Food for POLI.DESIGN. I hold qualifications in adult education from Australia and Singapore.