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Dr Nick Spencer

Associate Professor

Department: Northumbria School of Design

ADSS Nicholas Spencer Staffprofile 255Nicholas is Programme Leader for the MA/MSc Multidisciplinary Innovation programme. In this role Nicholas helps to develop international educational partnerships that develop new forms of innovation for external commercial and third sector organizations through novel academic, student and community co-creation. Nicholas' first degree is in industrial design and his Doctorate focused on expert designers' experience of practice. Teaching design research into the Design Department's Postgraduate provision and supervising Doctoral Research programmes supports and is supported by the personal research focus of developing new understandings of networked design intelligence.

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

My research relates to Design for Social Innovation. Specifically, my work engages with the complexities of transition; the conflicting views and influence of different people and organisations and their collective roles in realising fairer, responsible and more rewarding futures. Through a practice based approach my research explores how capabilities can be developed and embedded that initiate desirable transition and help non-design experts to continue an appropriate design practice within their professional or community setting.

I have expertise in Design Thinking and Design Innovation, topics I am invited to speak about to academic, corporate and public sector audiences. I am often commissioned to lead projects that bring the public and multiple organisations together to examine and respond creatively and strategically to complex situations. I am part of a range of significant European networks interested in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship and leverage these to support the scaling and dissemination of new practice and exciting initiatives.

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Creative and collaborative reflective thinking to support policy deliberation and decision making, Spaa, A., Spencer, N., Durrant, A., Vines, J. 15 Apr 2022, In: Evidence and Policy
  • Introduction: An Overview of the Research, Păunescu, C., Lepik, K., Spencer, N. 5 Jan 2022, Social Innovation in Higher Education, Cham, Switzerland, Springer
  • Social Innovation in Higher Education: Landscapes, Practices, and Opportunities, Paunescu, C., Lepik, K., Spencer, N. 5 Jan 2022
  • Three degrees of influence in virtual workshops: towards an understanding of co-creative facilitation practice in technologically mediated settings, Hemstock, O., Bailey, M., Spencer, N., Simmons, H. 5 Apr 2022, DRS2022
  • Design Listening: what designers hear and how they respond, Carrion-Weiss, J., Bailey, M., Spencer, N. 10 Sep 2021, With design: IASDR 2021 Conference Proceedings, Cham, Switzerland, Springer
  • Design for Complex Situations: Navigating ‘Matters of Concern’, Spencer, N., Bailey, M. 31 Dec 2020, In: International Journal of Design
  • A design-led approach to transforming wicked problems into design situations and opportunities, Bailey, M., Chatzakis, E., Spencer, N., Lampitt Adey, K., Sterling, N., Smith, N. 1 Mar 2019, In: Journal of Design, Business & Society

Current and Recent Projects

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Creative Spark partnerhsip fund, Bailey, M. (Principal Investigator), Spencer, N. (Co Investigator), British Council, 05/11/20 - 30/06/23, £19,951.00
  • Creative Fuse North East (AHRC funded), Bailey, M. (Principal Investigator), Spencer, N. (Co Investigator), Newcastle University, 01/02/20 - 31/07/22, 0.00
  • ERDF: Creative Fuse North East 2 (see also CRP0755 AHRC), Bailey, M. (Principal Investigator), Spencer, N. (Co Investigator), Newcastle University, 01/02/20 - 31/07/22, 0.00
  • Creative Spark: Get Ready to Innovate Armenia, Bailey, M. (Principal Investigator), Spencer, N. (Co Investigator), British Council, 09/10/18 - 31/07/19, £49,924.00
  • Project Legacy Sprint, Bailey, M. (Principal Investigator), Spencer, N. (Co Investigator), Northumbrian Water, 08/05/17 - 12/05/17, £2,000.00
  • Global Entrepreneurial Talent Management 3 MSCA RISE Project No 734824, Pearce, A. (Principal Investigator), Spencer, N. (Co Investigator), European Commission, 14/12/16 - 30/12/20, £769,355.00
  • Creativity Works (ERDF), Bailey, M. (Principal Investigator), Spencer, N. (Co Investigator), European Commission, 01/06/16 - 28/01/19, £229,779.00
  • Creative Fuse North East, Bailey, M. (Principal Investigator), Spencer, N. (Co Investigator), Arts & Humanities Research Council, 01/01/16 - 31/12/17, £468,671.00

Professional Activity

PGR Supervision

  • Felipe Schmidt Fonseca Waste Prevention and Generous Cities Start Date: 22/11/2021
  • Brogan Ogilvie Developing a Design-for-Policy Framework for Reflexive Action Start Date: 01/10/2021
  • Jacob Goff Calm Fashion: A Practice-Based Exploration of Performance Fashion Design and Wearable Technology Start Date: 25/09/2020
  • Emelia Erland Start Date: 25/09/2020 End Date: 05/02/2021
  • Nesrin Elmarakbi Creative Design Activities to Support the Complex Learning Environment of the Classroom with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Start Date: 01/03/2020
  • Oliver Hemstock Exploring the strategic value of slow design: understanding potential benefits within a commercial setting Start Date: 01/10/2015 End Date: 29/07/2020
  • Ashleigh Bentham A Constructivist Grounded Theory Study Creating a Framework of Prominent Themes of Responsibility Within UK-Based Postgraduate Design-Led Innovation Programmes Start Date: 01/10/2015


  • Design Studies PhD March 31 2009
  • Teaching & Learning PCAPL November 04 2004
  • Design Studies BA (Hons) June 30 2002

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