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Dr. Joyce S. R. Yee

Associate Professor

Department: Northumbria School of Design

I am a design researcher, author and designer in the areas of design and social innovation, service design and interaction design. I currently hold the post of Associate Professor at Northumbria University and is the Head of Communication Design in the School of Design. I hold a BFA in Graphic Design, an MA in Visual Communication and a PhD in Design. I lead the subject development in the school at various undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral levels. I primarily teach undergraduate Interaction Design students and supervise a number of doctoral students in the subject of service design, design and social innovation and emergent interaction design practices.

My research focuses on the role, value and impact of design in organisational context. Specifically, I am interested in the ways design is used to support, enable and drive change through the creation of innovative practices in organisations. I was the lead investigator for the Valuing Design project, an AHRC funded research that identified and mapped the impact and value of design in public and voluntary and community sector organisations. Building on this work, my 2017 book, Transformations: 7 Roles to Drive Change by Design introduces 7 roles that design play in driving change in organisations. This book builds on a previous book, Design Transitions (2013) that explored how design practices are changing and identified a key requirement for designers to externalise their approaches and demonstrate value beyond design in service innovation projects. 

Extending my interest in design in social spaces, I co-founded the Design and Social Innovation in Asia-Pacific network (DESIAP) with Yoko Akama at RMIT, Australia. DESIAP (previously funded by the AHRC Research Network grant) is a research platform, a community of practice, and a network for collaboration and ongoing knowledge sharing for various practitioners, researchers, communities, and professionals working in the Social Innovation space in the UK and the Asia-Pacific region. I also co-founded the inaugural Research Through Design (RTD) conference with Jayne Wallace as an experimental conference series for disseminating practice-based design research.

Campus Address

Squires Annexe, Room 108
City Campus

0191 227 3175


PhD, MA, BA (Hons)

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

  • Practices, methods and processes in design and social innovation, specifically in Asia-Pacific (includes the role of relationships, cultural nuances and impact & evaluation)
  • The impact, role and value of design in government, public sector and private sector in supporting innovative practices
  • Methods and processes for practice-based design research
  • Service design implementations in the public sector
  • Design processes in innovation, interaction and service design

Current/Recent Projects

  • Design and Social Innovation in Asia Pacific (DESIAP) Research Network (2016)

Principal Investigator.

Fund: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Network

  • Valuing Design: Identifying and Mapping Design Impact and Value (2014)

Principal Investigator.

Fund: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Development Fund

  • KTP – Designing and delivering an e-learning platform (2008 – 2010)

Academic Supervisor.

Industry partner: Zodiac Training Ltd | Fund: Technology Strategy Board

  • KTP – Designing and delivering an E-training system (2010 – 2012)

Academic Supervisor.

Industry partner: International Pipeline Products Ltd | Fund: Technology Strategy Board

Key Publications

Yee, J., Raijmakers, B. & Ichikawa, F. (2018 - pending) ‘Transformative personal change as impact in Social Innovation’. Design & Culture, 10.

Yee, J., Jefferies, E. & Michelwski, K. (2017) Transformations: 7 Roles to Drive Change by Design. Amsterdam: BIS.

Akama, Y. & Yee, J (2016) ‘Seeking stronger plurality: Intimacy and integrity in designing for social innovation’. Cumulus Hong Kong: Open Design for E-very-thing, Hong Kong, Nov 21-24.

Yee, J., & White, H. (2016). ‘The Goldilocks Conundrum: The ‘just right’ conditions for design to achieve impact in public and third sector projects’. International Journal of Design, 10(1), 7-19.

Rodgers, Paul & Yee, J. (2014) The Routledge Companion to Design Research. London: Taylor & Francis.

Yee. J., Jefferies, E. & Tan, L. (2013) Design Transitions. Amsterdam: BIS. 

For full list, click here.

Further Information

To view my Northumbria Research Link page click here

Professional Activity

  • Co-founder, DESIAP network (since 2015)
  • Reviews Editor, Journal of Communication Design (since 2014).
  • Guest Editor, Special Issue Volume: RTD published by Design Issues (Spring 2017), Design & Culture (August 2018), Special Issue Volume: Visual/Textual published by Studies in Material Thinking Journal (June 2015).
  • Conference Committee for the Research Through Design conference series (since 2013)
  • Member of the AHRC Peer Review College
  • External Examiner for Royal College of Arts (2018-2021), Kingston University (2018-2021), University of South Wales (2016-2018), DJCAD, Dundee University (2012-2016) and Ballyfermot College of Further Education, Ireland, (2012-2016)
  • PhD Examiner in UK, Europe and Australian institutions.

Sponsors and Collaborators

Research funders: AHRC

External Collaborators: Virgin Money, Sage, Malaysian Design Council, Point B (Myanmar), INSTEDD (Cambodia), Impact Hub (Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia), SiX,

University collaborators: RMIT (Design), UAL (Design), University of Melbourne (Policy Lab), Dundee University (Design), University Malaya (Science, Technology, Systems), Auckland University Technology (Design)

PGR Supervision

I am an experienced PhD supervisor having had 6 successful PhDs completion. I am always looking to meet new would-be research students with interests that overlap with some of mine. My current supervisions include:

Cyril Tjahja - What constitutes Design for Social Innovation initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region. (To be completed 2019)

Chris Wilson - Digilog: The Emergence of a New Category of Objects within Post-Digital Printmaking. (To be completed 2019)

Anthony Forsyth –  Exploring the poetic qualities of design objects - a theoretical and practical investigation with a focus on the design of luminaires (To be completed 2020)

Aysar Ghassan –  An Empirical Investigation of ‘Ways of Speaking’ in Design Thinking Research (To be completed 2018)


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