UK, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumbria Design Social Innovation and Sustainability Lab

For Admission

Starts: 19 May, 2016
Duration :
Instructors: UK, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumbria Design Social Innovation and Sustainability Lab
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Name: Northumbria Design Social Innovation and Sustainability Lab (nDESIS).

City: Newcastle upon Tyne

Country: UK

Coordinator: Professor Robert Young,

Operational manager: Dr Joyce Yee,

Lab’s mail address, telephone number, website: Northumbria Design Social Innovation and Sustainability Lab (nDESIS). School of Design Northumbria University, City Campus East 2, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Contacts:+44(0) 191 227 4124


Hosting institution:  Northumbria University, Faculty of Arts Design and Social Sciences, School of Design, Ellison Building, Ellison Place Newcastle upon Tyne, +44(0) 191 227 3135.

Background and objectives 

Social innovation is a research theme with broad interest across Northumbria University and has been an emerging area of socially responsible design practice over the last decade. It is a design context of growing interest in the School of Design that connects directly with the fields of service design practice and co-designing, as represented by the increasing volume of UG and PGT project based learning activity, manydoctoral projects already completed and nearing examination, several doctoral projects begun this year and many more enquires for doctoral project study being processed. Staff and students work on a variety of social innovation design practice learning and research challenges, which typically include:

  • Contract research with third and voluntary sector organizations
  • Taught postgraduate and undergraduate students working with staff on design practice learning projects with external collaborative communities and organizations
  • Doctoral candidates working on social innovation topics with collaborating researchers and external organizations.
  • Post-doctoral research publication projects.


Our Social Innovation theme focuses on public and third sector innovation through practice-based research that draws on design thinking and practice, social and management disciplines. The School of Design has determined three focal research questions to address its approach to the topic:

  1. How should we reconceptualise the role of the designer in social innovation contexts? Purpose!
  2. How could we develop a sustainable socio-economic paradigm to support social innovation practices? Pragmatics!
  3. How can we make desirable social far futures near futures through the development of appropriate methodologies? Praxis!

Primary research areas and activities

Our past work relates to DESIS in the following ways:

Public Services: Healthcare and wellbeing

Cities: Public Services and Urban Safety

Enterprises: Craftsmanship and Community-based Enterprises

Our current work considers questions such as;

  1. Can Service Design help improve public services and third sector organisations (voluntary and community-based enterprises)?
  2. Can we design for the elderly or for security without compromising dignity or privacy? and
  3. Can design enable co-creation within communities and transformation within organisations?

We are currently addressing quesitons concernng participation, co-creation, urban regeneration, mobility services and processes in the city.


  • Professor Robert Young,
  • Dr Joyce Yee,
  • Matthew Lievesely
  • Dr Stuart English
  • Professor Paul Rodgers
  • Mark Bailey
  • Nick Spencer
  • Neil Smith
  • Dr Mersha Aftab
  • Andy Tennant
  • Dr Laura Warwick
  • Dr David Parkinson.



Sample Bibliography:

Young, R. (2014) The Paradox of Service Design in the Community Voluntary Sector. Chapter in Mapping and developing service design research in the UK. Sangiorgi D. & Prendiville A. eds. Lancaster University. ISBN 978-1-86220-318-1

Young, R. (2014) The role of empathy as a core value for service co-design practitioners engaged in social innovation, Chapter in Moving Stories, Strategic Creativity Series. Damm, H. ed. Creative Commons, Accessed at: pp.11-20

Yee, J., White, H. and Lennon, L. (2015) ‘Valuing Design in Public and Third Sector Organisations’. Proceedings of the 11th European Academy of Design (EAD), Boulogne Billancourt, France..

Warwick, L, Young, R and Lievesley, M (2014) The potential of a Design for Service approach to transform Voluntary Community Sector organisations. In: ServDes 2014. Lancaster, UK.

Vyas, P, Young, R, Spencer, N, and Sice, P. (2014) Can awareness-based practices benefit co-creation in community social innovation. In: ServDes 2014. Lancaster, UK.

Warwick, L., Young, R. and Lievesley, M. (2014) Exploring the value of a design for service approach to develop public services in the Community Voluntary Sector: a comparative analysis. International Journal of Design in Society. ISSN 2325-1328

Young, R. (2012) Refocusing the practice of service design to align actions with intentions in socially responsible contexts. In: Service Design with Theory. Lapland University Press, Rovaniemi.

Vyas P., Young R. 2011, Redefining socially responsible designing to assist collaborative approaches to community engagement. In; Understanding Complex Service Systems Through Different Lenses, Cambridge University.

George, K, Sice, P, Young, R, Mansi, S and Ellman, J (2012) Wellbeing in community participation. In: The 12th European Conference on e-Government Institute of Public Governance and Management (ECEG 2012), 13 – 15 June 2012, Barcelona, Spain.

George, K, Sice, P, Young, R, Mansi, S and Ellman, J (2012) Community participants wellbeing. In: European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies (ECRM 2012), 28 – 29 June 2012, Bolton UK.

Warwick, L, Young, R and Lievesley, M (2012) A third way for the third sector: generating a framework to recognise the impact(s) of the co-design of service innovation in third sector organisations using a critical design research cycle. In: DMI 2012: The Design Management Institute International Research Conference 2012, 8-9 August 2012, Boston, MA., USA.

George, K, Sice, P, Young, R, Ellman, J and Mansi, S (2011) Dimensions of complexity in community participation through ICT design. In: Human Computer Interaction (HCI2011), 4 – 8 July 2011, Northumbria University.

George, K, Sice, P, Ellman, J, Mansi, S and Young, R (2011) Complexity of community participation simplified through ICT design. International Journal of Digital Society (IJDS). pp. 551-556. ISSN 2040-2570

Young, R. (2010) Developments in service design thinking and practice. In: Embracing Complexity in Design. Routledge, New York, pp. 161-175. ISBN 9780415497008