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The value of craft sensibilities in technology orientated Maker and Hack communities (RDF17/DES/MARSHALL)

   Faculty of Arts, Design and Social Sciences

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  Dr J Marshall  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Makerspace phenomenon has been rapidly expanding within the UK and worldwide over the last 5 years. This is a broad church and encompasses a variety of spaces supporting an increasingly wide variety of making. At macro level exciting opportunities for Makerspaces and Maker communities to take on new social, cultural and even political roles are emerging and the UK Crafts Council has been keen to associate themselves with this (e.g. their make:shift:do initiative). However, at the micro-level of everyday activities undertaken within many digitally orientated makerspaces there is still an inclination towards technical experimentation and personal goal/problem focused activities in which the quality and meaningfulness of human interaction/experience and an artefact’s material characteristics are not significant factors or drivers. Craft practice’s human-centred approach to engaging with the world through making is often characterised by a sensitivity to, and celebration of, processes and materials. This can be recognised not only through artefacts and experiences created through analogue tool sets, but also in the way craft practitioners wield digital technologies. ‘Digital Craft’ is becoming a recognised term, however, the relatively limited overlap between the communities of technologists and established craft communities belies some of the hype around the maker movement’s transformative vision.
This project will involve working with the maker and craft communities in order to explore this space. It will focus on the UK, but with the possibility to include international work in China and India, so creating the opportunity to understand the relationship between craft and digital technologies in differing cultural contexts.

This project will require a multi-method approach, with an emphasis on practice, in order to explore such questions as:
-What are the most effective strategies and approaches to integrating the proficiencies, sensibilities and ethos of craft practitioners with the creative technical skills within digitally orientated Maker communities?
-What differences and similarities are there in the underlying sensibilities and mind-sets of these communities?
-What new types of hybrid practice does this facilitate and what opportunities does this provide for creating alternative visions of interactivity, physical/digital interfaces and IoT artefacts, both nationally and internationally?
We are seeking a practitioner researcher with an enthusiasm for the craft sector and/or the maker movement, with some experience of the opportunities afforded by digital technologies. You will have a high degree of social skills and be able to engage and enthuse people in order to partake in collaborative projects. While practice is an essential part of the approach to this project, you will also recognise the need for, and value of, complementary methods of knowledge acquisition.

This project will be supervised by Dr Justin Marshall and Dr Jayne Wallace. Both have substantial track records deploying digital tools and capabilities within their craft research practices and experience of working internationally.

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.


Sept 2015: Marshall, J . Rogers, J. Wallace, J. Crafting the digital in Crafting Our Digital Futures, a publication to accompany the Digital Design Weekend 2015, V&A London. ISBN 978-0-9576868-4-7. Available online.

Aug 2015: 'Hybrid Craft’, exhibition of work as part of Siggraph 2015, Los Angles, US.

July 2014: Bunnell, K & Marshall, J (Eds.), All Makers Now: Craft Values in 21st Century Production, International Conference Proceedings, Autonomatic Research Group, Falmouth University. ISBN 978-0-9544187-9-3

NOTE: Marshall has considerable experience in this area through both instigating and running a makerspace in Southwest UK (2013-15) and being connected to both the international maker movement and the craft sector. Recent international research in this broad area has included:
2016: ‘Creative Communities’: Making Value and The Value(s) of Making in China, Co-Investigator on collaborative multi-partner project, AHRC Newton Fund AH/P001076/1.

2015: ‘Living Research’: MAKING IN CHINA, British Council/AHRC (Newton Fund), exploratory visit to investigate the maker community and Shenzhen and Shanghai
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