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Design for energy transitions in African urban informal settlements


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  Dr F Ceschin  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

This PhD is linked to a 5-year research project entitled ‘Mainstreaming Gender for Energy Security in Poor Urban Environments’, in short Gender for Energy Security (GENS). Funded by National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa and the Newton Fund through the British Council, the project involves Stellenbosch University, Brunel University London and University of Nairobi ( The project aims to advance knowledge on the area of energy security in informal urban settlements, with a particular focus on gender equity and equality. The project will implement two living labs, in Cape Town and Nairobi townships, where, in collaboration with communities, companies, NGOs and policy makers, interventions to improve energy security will be ideated, developed, prototyped and tested. This will pave the way to the commercialisation of innovative solutions and the implementation of supporting policies.

‘Design for sustainability transitions’ “focuses on the transformation of socio-technical systems through technological, social, organisational and institutional innovations” (Ceschin & Gaziulosoy, 2020), and it is an integral part of the project.

Within this project, the PhD will explore the role of ‘Design for sustainability transitions’ in defining socio-technical transition pathways to move towards sustainable and gender-informed energy systems in informal urban settlements. In the project, the research team will engage with all the societal stakeholders to develop visions and scenarios of desirable energy systems, identify transition pathways toward those visions, and facilitate the process of implementation of those pathways. The PhD will focus on one or more of these aspects, depending on the specific interests of the PhD researcher.

This PhD will require the researcher to spend some time in Cape Town and Nairobi, where the two living labs are located.

Funding Notes

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: Recently the UK Government made available the Doctoral Student Loans of up to £25,000 for UK and EU students and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.)


Ceschin, F. and Gaziulusoy, İ. (2019) 'Design for Sustainability: A Multi-level Framework from Products to Socio-technical Systems'. Routledge.
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