Home>Success for the 3rd edition of the Public Policy Incubator!


Success for the 3rd edition of the Public Policy Incubator!

On May 18, 2021, the 154 students from Sciences Po's School of Public Affairs who participated in the third edition of the Public Policy Incubator presented the solutions they had devised to respond to the 30 public interest challenges proposed by the Incubator's partners. 

>Education, the fight against discrimination, the environment, food, culture, citizen participation, housing... These are just some of the issues on which the students worked intensively during the spring semester, guided by a methodology derived from public policy design, constructed in partnership with the Où sont les dragons co-operative. 


Despite the sanitary conditions, the students, divided in groups of 5 or 6 for each of the 30 proposed challenges, were more present than ever: from the 11 policy streams of the 2 Masters offered by the School of Public Affairs*, the Sciences Po students were joined this semester by a few design students from ENSCI-Les Ateliers as well as engineering students from Centrale Supélec participating in the Tech for Good program with the Latitudes association.  

"Having all these different visions interacting was not easy at first," explains a student from the "D'un agriculteur à l'Autre" project (from one farmer to another), a scheme to support practices towards agroecology via the lever of generational renewal of farms (a challenge proposed by the Fédération Nationale d'Agriculture Biologique). Not to mention the fact that, with training methods adapted to the health context, some groups only met once or twice in person. 

So how could we offer a concrete solution in 12 weeks that made sense and was based on real observations in the field? The groups were accompanied on a weekly basis by coaches with profiles of designers, consultants, experts in public innovation, who guided them during the key moments of the semester:  

First of all, during the immersion phase, the students went to meet the users and target audiences of their challenges in order to fully understand their needs and issues in the field. In compliance with health regulations, students went to a prison in the Hauts-de-France region (challenge proposed by the Ministry of Justice), to the Château de Villers-Cotterêts (challenge proposed by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux) or to the Centre Communal d'Action Sociale (CCAS) of the city of Sarcelles (challenge proposed by the UNCCAS).  

Armed with their field experience, the students then moved on to the conceptualization phase during which they experimented with the concept of "iteration" or how an idea, which seems good on paper, must be constantly confronted with the field and reworked, refined, and tightened in order to respond as accurately as possible to the real needs of users. "At Sciences Po, we are used to thinking in a linear way according to a plan, whereas design has taught us to think "in the cloud"" explains a student from the Tandem project, a mentoring program between prisoners and professionals. It was also an opportunity for some students to go back to the field to test their ideas, for example, the group working on the "Draw me an emotion" project was able to exchange with teachers from a school in Cherbourg about three devices imagined to develop empathy as a tool to fight bullying (challenge from the French Ministry of National Education and Youth). The students of the "QRiosity" project were also able to test their augmented QR code solution to collect the opinions of Transilien users in situ, directly on the platforms of some of the network's stations (challenge proposed by Transilien's Mass Transit Lab).  

Finally, the prototyping phase allowed the students to materialize their idea in the form of a tangible object, be it a website, an application, a kit/guide, a game, an interactive map, etc. "At first, we thought we were expected to produce a typical report format, but the design method made us step out of our comfort zone to produce a more innovative solution" explains a student from the "For Tomorrow" project, a response to the challenge proposed by the European Commission on the New European Bauhaus. In this phase, nine groups benefited from special coaching from our partner AWS to go further in digital prototyping.  




The collaborative and interdisciplinary work, especially at a distance, the project management, the public policy design method, the immersion in the problems proposed by the partners, which were sometimes very technical and specific, all contributed to making this semester a very professionalizing experience for the students, who were able to gain practical skills in these different aspects. 

"Without this way of working, we would not have questioned what would best meet the needs of the users as much, and we would have remained very conceptual on the findings", explains a student of the "From one farmer to another" project. She adds: "The Public Policy Incubator was above all an exercise in humility. At Sciences Po, we are used to building on what we know, here we learned to build on what we don't know."  

At a time when we are confronted with uncertainty in the answers to the complex challenges of our society more than ever, this is what the program is all about: teaching students to collaborate with a diversity of profiles, each with a different way of approaching a public policy issue, making them aware of design-based approaches to try to question and solve in different ways the daily problems that affect citizens, demystifying the fact of using an "object", whether digital or not, to facilitate the experimentation of ideas.  

*The School of Public Affairs offers two master's degrees in initial training: 

  • The Master in Public Policy, allowing students to evolve in all spheres of action of public affairs.
  • The Master in European Affairs, which offers our students the opportunity to move towards European careers.

In addition to the choice of master's programs, students choose one of the 11 policy streams offered. They aim to build, develop and reinforce the professionalization of students in all areas of public affairs.

Video © Lucile Meunier


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