Community Panel: Opening research commissioning to civic participation

Project Lead

Ian Johson, Clara Crivellaro, and Solen Lees

Project Summary

Not-Equal worked with a group of citizens to help decide which research proposals should be funded in our open commissioning calls.


Civic participation has historically been regarded as one of the critical ways to tackle the power imbalance between ‘users’ and systems designers and developers. As part of Not-Equal’s Open Commissioning process we invited ordinary citizens to determine and judge the social impact of research proposals. 

They were an essential component of our review process. The Community Panel focused on the social impact of the proposals, bringing their different worldviews to the reviewing process. The panel worked with members of the Not-Equal team to explore the impact of technologies in everyday life and assess proposals based on co-designed criteria. 

A call for honesty and care 

These insights add to the growing discourse about ethics in digital innovation and aligns with calls for design as a catalyst for social change. We have highlighted that when voices from across society are brought together, old and new ideas, hopes and reflections about the present and the future emerge, and people can apply those to the practice of envisioning (un)intended consequences of technologies but also how things ‘ought to be’ and the kind of worlds that digital innovation and HCI research should play a role in helping co-create. 


Opening Research Commissioning To Civic Participation: Creating A Community Panel To Review The Social Impact of HCI Research Proposals