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Lesson 4: Design-driven participatory processes with stakeholders in the arts and culture field – How to use design methodologies to deepen the impact of artistic practices

Contributors: Fabrizio Pierandrei, Stefano Anfossi, Silvia Remotti, Carolina Gutierrez Novoa, Elena Marengoni, Francesca Pasini, Stefano Togni – PACO Design Collaborative


Participatory design methods offer numerous benefits, such as bringing together different perspectives, generating alignment and facilitating informed decisions. In this course you will learn how to use these methods with stakeholders in the arts and culture field at different stages of a project and for different purposes. You will explore the phases of development of a participatory process, learning to set goals, plan and prepare activities, collect data and extract insights. Particular attention will be dedicated to the role of facilitation in participatory activities. You will be introduced to the skills and techniques that a facilitator can apply to generate effective group dynamics and promote a collaborative environment.

Learning outcomes:

The successful completion of this course will enable participants to:

  1. Understanding the meaning of design and the purpose and principles of participatory design methodologies;
  2. Recognize the importance of design in cultural policy making;
  3. Identifying the different phases of a participatory process;
  4. Learning how to structure participatory activities to interact with stakeholders, including the selection of appropriate tools;
  5. Acquiring best practices in relation to data collection, data handling and privacy;
  6. Learning how to transform information into actionable insights;
  7. Understanding the value of facilitation in a participatory process;
  8. Discovering effective group dynamics and the factors that contribute to the creation of a collaborative environment;
  9. Exploring facilitation skills and techniques to enable meaningful interactions.


This lesson is based on self-study, guided by videos, reading, exercises, and a multiple-choice quiz. The lesson consists of 15 units with 3 sections.

Section 1: Theoretical background

Unit 1: Design-driven participatory processes with stakeholders in the arts and culture field 

Unit 2: Why a design approach? 

Unit 3: The power of participatory design 

Unit 4: What is the role of design in cultural policy-making? 

Section 2: The participatory process 

Unit 5: The participatory process, its purpose, methods, and tools 

Unit 6: How to engage participants? 

Unit 7: Working ethically in the era of the GDPR

Unit 8: Good practices for data collection

Unit 9: What is abductive reasoning, and why does it matter in design-driven activities?

Unit 10: Sense-making in practice: analysing and synthesising

Unit 11: Building impactful research outputs to create meaningful conversations 

Section 3: Facilitation: values, skills, and techniques

Unit 12: The role of facilitation in creating effective and inclusive group dynamics in participatory and collaborative settings 

Unit 13: Relational skills in action: techniques for facilitating participatory activities in different set-ups 

Unit 14: The power of visualisation in facilitation 

Unit 15: Wrap-up! Design-driven participatory processes with stakeholders in the arts