Emma Dewberry

Senior Lecturer

I joined the Design Group at The Open University in February 2008.

I am interested in the capacity of design to create sustainable futures. This expands the idea of design from a discipline of practice (product, graphic, fashion) to post-discipline ... knowledge grown between practices and discipline areas (trans-discipline). I like the idea of design as a curious intervention between everyday practices and interconnected thinking - and my sense is that journeys of sustainability will require more radical transformation facilitated by such curious learners, doers and thinkers.

Brief CV

2006 - 2008 Senior Lecturer in Design for Sustainability - Department of Design and Technology, Loughborough University

2003 - 2006 Lecturer and Course Director MSc Design for Sustainability - International Ecotechnology Research Centre, School of Industrial Manufacturing Sciences [now School of Applied Sciences], Cranfield University

2001 - 2003 Research Fellow - International Ecotechnology Research Centre, School of Industrial Manufacturing Sciences [now School of Applied Sciences], Cranfield University

2000 - 2001 Lecturer in EcoDesign - Design Department, Goldsmiths College, University of London

1998 - 2000 Research Associate - Design Department, Goldsmiths College, University of London

1996 - 1998 Research Associate - Judge Institute of Management Studies, University of Cambridge

1992 - 1996 PhD Ecodesign- Present Attitudes and Future Directions - Department of Design and Innovation, Technology Faculty, The Open University

1991 - 1992 Furniture Designer - Modulus, Shah Alam, Malyasia

1987 - 1991 BSc (Hons) Industrial Design [Technology] - Napier Polytechnic, Edinburgh

Fellow of Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (FRSA)

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Visting Fellow and member of the Sustainable Design Research Group, School of Design, Loughborough University.

Research Projects

Co-Investigator EPSRC IDEAS FACTORY - Achieving Adapable Assets: Sustainable Integrated Infrastructure [2011-2013] SHOCK (NOT) HORROR: mediating radical transformations in infrastructure provision. The research proposes that system shocks constitute opportunities to radically ‘shift minds’ by providing the drivers to re-imagine the scale of resource use and to reevaluate the relationship between demand and provision of infrastructure. The SHOCK (NOT) HORROR project uniquely unpicks the potential for radical change through the allegory of medical trauma and through looking at narratives of infrastructure shocks  to engage infrastructure stakeholders to rethink the nature of shocks and devise transformative ways of thinking about infrastructure.

Principal Investigator EPSRC Collaborating for Success through People Research Programme [2007-2008]; Exploring eco-literacy and its relevance in realizing far-reaching sustainable innovation [EP/F013116/1]. Total funding awarded £24,299

Principal Investigator EPSRC Responsive Mode [2005-2008]; Design Dialogues: An exploratory study of design narratives, methodologies and tools towards achieving Factor 10 outcomes [GR/S90645/01]. Total funding awarded £115,575

Core Contributor DEFRA Waste and Resources Research Programme [2006-2008]; P.I. Dr M Cook (Cranfield University), Achieving household waste prevention and promoting sustainable resource use through Result Orientated Product Service Systems [WRT129]. Total funding awarded £190,560.

Research Interests

Design Ecologies - the complex, interconnected relationships within landscapes of design that reflect different scales of space and time

Creating Sustainability   - in contrast to reducing unsustainability that emphasizes improvement rather than transformation!;

Education for Sustainability - particularly the concepts of transdisciplinarity, open and co-created learning, and the relationships between practice, learning and change;

EcoLiteracy - inspired by the work of Edith Cobb 'The Ecology of Imagination in Childhood' - I want to understand more about the importance of nature and creativity in framing hope and leadership - for children, communities and organisations; 

Sustainable Innovation and Leadership -  creating new values and visions to enable transformative leadership and practice;

Design for Sustainability - I have a long standing research interest in ecodesign, Product, Service Systems (PSS) and the impacts and scope of design in changing both production and consumption agendas.

Research Students

I am always interested to hear from people who would like to undertake doctoral research in any of my areas of research interest.

Current Doctoral Supervision

Iain Aitchison, Beyond product design: new trans-disciplinary frameworks for higher education in design, 2013 - present (part-time) 

Byron Qually, Design and Democracy - transformative agency within indigenous structures , 2012 - present (part-time)

Alex Rowbotham, Design for fluid transitions to sustainable infrastructure: an exploratory case study of the Bedford to Milton Keynes waterway, 2011 - present (full-time)

Ana Faria,  The role of habits, comfort and convenience in the transition to more sustainable energy practices at home, 2008 - present (now part-time)

Completed Doctorates

Margarida Monteiro de Barros, Creating Sustainability: an exploration of innovation through dialogues, Design School, Loughborough University (awarded Doctorate 2011).

Ann Thorpe, Design and Political Resistance: Tactics, Power, and Transformation, Department of Design, Development, Environment and Materials, The Open University (awarded Doctorate 2010).

Examined Doctorates

I have been appointed as the external examiner for eight doctoral thesis, both here in the UK and internationally. I have undertaken the role of internal examiner for five doctoral candidates at Cranfield University, Loughborough University and The Open University.

Learning and Teaching

My focus at the Open University is to contribute to all levels of learning provision in design and related subjects. I am particularly interested in exploring sustainable pedagogy: particularly the synergies between design thinking and trans-disciplinarity that I believe will create the new types of literacy and practice for both human and ecological well-being.

I am currently a course team member for T317 - Innovation: designing for change . I currently monitor academic tutors on the existing third level course T307, and am a member of this examination board.

I was a course team member for the award-winning U101, an innovative first level programme in Design Thinking. I currently monitor academic tutors on this course, and am a member of this examination board.

I am a member of the course team and examination board for The Engineering project, T450.

I am the external examiner for the MA in Sustainable Design at Brighton University and the MSC in Energy and Industrial Sustainability at DeMonfort University in Leicester.

I have a wide experience of teaching Design for Sustainability at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I have been instrumental in developing teaching in this field in the UK, notably  co-directing the first UK BA (Hons) Ecodesign at Goldsmiths College, University of London [1998-2001] and directing  the first UK MSc Design for Sustainability at Cranfield University [2003-2006]. I continue to look for opportunities to broaden the agenda and impact of design, particularly with reference to enhancing open, social and ecological learning.

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