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Northumbria DESIS lab (nDESIS) was established in 2012 and is part of the DESIS (Design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability) network. DESIS is a global network of design schools working to actively promoting and delivering design-led social innovation for sustainability.

The establishment and recognition of nDESIS reflects and cements the growing importance of social innovation research to Northumbria University Design. Although social innovation is a research theme with broad interest across Northumbria University, it is in Design where it connects with the fields of service design practice and co-designing, as represented by the increasing volume of UG and PGT project based learning activity, research projects and ongoing doctoral projects.

The DESIS network, originally established by Professor Ezio Manzini, comprise of decentralised global, regional and local design ‘labs’, and acts to “foster social innovation and sustainability by taking part in support projects and programs, gathering together and offering greater visibility to significant cases”. It now has over 50 labs across Asia, Europe, South America, North America and Asia-Pacific. The network also provides a platform to share best practices across the world and to generate useful design knowledge and to create meaningful social changes in collaboration with other stakeholders.

Our objectives

nDESIS Lab brings together Northumbria Design’s Social Innovation research and teaching activities which focuses on public and third sector innovation through practice-based research that draws on design thinking and practice, social and management disciplines. There are three focal research questions we are trying to address:

  • How should we reconceptualise the role of the designer in social innovation contexts?
  • How could we develop a sustainable socio-economic paradigm to support social innovation practices?
  • How can we make desirable social far futures near futures through the development of appropriate methodologies?



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Find out more about our research, staff and collaborations that takes place in the School of Design on our dedicated Design Research website. 

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Postgraduate Research Degrees

We have a vibrant postgraduate research community with over 60 PhD students working in issues related to design methods, theory and practice across all our areas of design expertise. Find out about what we can offer. 

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Postgraduate Taught Research

Our MRes in Design offers an opportunity to carry out original, in-depth design research, aimed at equipping students for further academic study at doctoral level or to work as a researcher in related industries.

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