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Social Innovation through Digital Manufacturing


About This PhD Project

Project Description

Reference number: SDCA/CET2020
Start date: 1 October 2020
Application deadline: 1 July 2020
3 years full-time
Primary supervisor: Dr Carolina Escobar-Tello
Secondary supervisor: Dr Matt Sinclair

Project detail

The need to improve the lives of everyone on the planet, with particular emphasis on reducing inequality and tackling poverty of those living in economies in transition, is increasingly recognised by businesses, organisations and governments around the world. The need to collaborate with multidisciplinary and cross-cultural approaches has been identified in addressing why previous attempts to tackle these longstanding, complex and diverse issues have failed. A grass-roots approach (social innovation), together with a participatory visioning of desired futures, is pivotal for triggering successful socio-technical transitions (transition design) that fit users’ aspirations, cultural contexts and values. However, to date, little published literature is available in the design discipline.

This research would begin to apply more rigorous approaches to investigating the use, application, and impact of social innovation in the appropriation of digital fabrication technologies by those from disadvantaged communities (e.g. economically deprived, educationally deprived, geographically remote, etc). It would focus on the identification of design solutions appropriate to local needs that contribute to the solving of grand societal challenges and building an innovative future.

The intention would be for the research to strengthen existing SDCA relationships in Mexico, Colombia and South Africa, and that empirical research would be conducted in at least one of these locations.

This PhD fits to the key strategic areas of ‘Sustainable and Socially Responsible Futures’ and ‘Digital Fabrication’.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent international qualification) in design or a related subject. A relevant master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: industrial/ product/service/systems/sustainable design, social innovation; SDGs projects and/or academic research, interest in design for happiness and well-being agenda.

Contact details


+44 (0)1509 222648

How to apply

All applications should be made online. Under school/department name, select 'Design'. Please quote reference SDCA/CET2020.

The deadline for applications is 1 July 2020.

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