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PhD in Human-Computer Interaction: Social computing for food and sustainable living (RDF17/CIS/CLEAR)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr A Clear  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

In the UK our food system is unsustainable with production, distribution and consumption accounting for 27% of total direct greenhouse gas emissions. The Internet has had a huge impact on food in terms of how it is distributed, but also how we share knowledge and skills about things like cooking and growing using online community platforms. In recent years, there has been a repopularising of sustainable food practices, including dietary choices and urban food growing on allotments and in back yards, and many online resources exist for supporting these. However, little research has studied how digital technologies mediate food practices and transitions to sustainable living. This is a particularly important question given the scale of impact required for mitigating harmful climate change, and the potential scale for social change offered by online social computing platforms.

This research would study the human-computer interaction between the design of social computing technologies concerned with growing, procuring, and cooking food and the everyday practices that they support and influence. In particular, it will seek to understand how factors of interaction design affect engagement and the dissemination of knowledge and skills required for alternative forms of consumption. Essentially, understanding how design affects community participation, and the scope and ability for carrying out sustainable food practices between the online and offline worlds. The research will include an exploration of the urban and digital design space of sustainable food through prototyping and participatory design. This will explore, for example, different ways of capturing, presenting and distributing information and ways of doing food (cooking, growing, procuring) through social interactions in online and offline communities, and how digital technologies can support distributed community participation in food practices.

Eligibility and How to Apply
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required (evidence required by 1 August 2017).

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please ensure you quote the advert reference above on your application form.
Deadline for applications: 20 January 2017
Start Date: 2 October 2017

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Funding Notes

This project is being considered for funding in competition with other projects, through one of two types of funding packages available:
• Fully funded studentships include a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates for 2017/18 (this is yet to be set, in 2016/17 this is £14,296 pa) and fees (Home/EU £4,350 / International £13,000 / International Lab-based £16,000), and are available to applicants worldwide.
• As Northumbria celebrates its 25th anniversary as a University and in line with our international outlook, some projects may also be offered to students from outside of the EU supported by a half-fee reduction.


Clear, A. K., O’Neill, K., Friday, A., & Hazas, M. (2016). Bearing an Open “Pandora's Box”: HCI for Reconciling Everyday Food and Sustainability. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 23(5), 28.

Adrian K. Clear, Mike Hazas, Janine Morley, Adrian Friday, and Oliver Bates. Domestic Food and Sustainable Design: A Study of University Student Cooking and its Impacts. In Proceedings of CHI 2013. Paris, FR. May, 2013.
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