Prototyping new technologies and data to enhance democratic participation for climate transitions

Recruiting university

Department of Design, Politecnico di Milano, Milan (Italy)

Main supervisor

Professor Marzia Mortati, Department of Design, Politecnico di Milano, Milan (Italy)


Professor Cabirio Cautela, Department of Design, Politecnico di Milano, Milan (Italy)

Other co-supervisors/mentors and organisations

Dr Francesco Mureddu (Lisbon Council, Belgium) (mentor), Senior Manager or Manager (EYSeren, UK) (mentor), Prof Lucy Kimbell (University of the Arts London, UK) (co-supervisor).


36 months

Required profile

Design researcher or professional with expertise in service design, strategic design, or design thinking, possibly with knowledge/experience in sustainable transitions and data analysis. Master’s degree in service design, policy studies, sustainable management, computer science, social sciences, human-centered design or another related field.

Researcher’s mentality

Open-minded, curious, enthusiastic, and accurate; proactive, capable of working independently, and likes to work in a team and in interaction with multiple disciplinary fields and sectors; good organizational and communication skills and a mastery of the English language in spoken and written form. Personal and strong motivation in working in design research.

Desired skills

Interest in socio-technical systems, mixing communication and IT with participation; strong social and empathy-based skills; academic English writing skills; good visualization skills. The candidate should be open to developing qualitative methodology skills and have an interest in new technologies (e.g. big data, artificial intelligence), prototyping and creative problem-solving approaches.


This PhD project focuses on studying practices and theories of democratic participation in data-intensive and technology-mediated processes to strengthen public participation. Specific objectives are: 1) To produce an integrative framework of notions and approaches coming from service design, policy studies and transitions management with literature on public participation and citizen engagement towards developing climate policies. 2) To map out the key benefits and weaknesses of data-intensive processes in public participation and of technology-mediated conflict for climate transitions (case studies). 3) To explore and apply prototyping techniques to experiment with design approaches that leverage technology for engaging stakeholders in democratic processes for climate transitions.


The theoretical and methodological structure of the project will be developed at the Design Department of Politecnico di Milano and in close collaboration with the other research projects in the network. This project requires the candidate to develop practice-based research and to reinforce (or develop new) theoretical understanding conceptual frameworks on democratic participation in data-intensive and technology-mediated processes, including case studies and – where possible – experimental development (prototyping) of new policies and services.


Lisbon Council (Belgium) (3 months) with mentor Dr Francesco Mureddu to collect knowledge on implemented cases and projects on data-intensive and technology mediated processes for public participation in climate transitions.
EYSeren (UK) (6 months) with support of aa senior Manager or Manager as mentor to develop and apply prototyping approaches for the development of new technology-enabled solutions to enable democratic participation in climate transitions.

What makes this doctoral research project exciting?

This research project is an innovative exploration of the intersection of design, sustainability, and democratic participation in the context of climate transitions. It offers a unique opportunity for a forward-thinking design researcher to contribute to the advancement of theories and practices related to public engagement in policy-making processes, leveraging innovative technologies and data-driven approaches. By working within the dynamic Co-Design4Transitions Doctoral Network, the candidate will have access to diverse perspectives and collaborative opportunities. The project's emphasis on prototyping and creative problem-solving promises to yield tangible solutions for enhancing democratic participation in addressing the pressing global challenge of climate change.

What’s special about the host department/university?

The Department of Design of Politecnico di Milano is the leading Italian centre for scientific research in the field of design. Rooted in the Italian design culture, it is oriented towards exploring new disciplinary frontiers, putting design at the service of contemporary challenges. It has pioneered several areas of design research, including Service Design, Strategic Design and Interaction Design, and started the first PhD programme in Design in Italy.

Gross salary

We offer employment as a full-time doctoral researcher. The annual funding available to the university Politecnico di Milano for this position DC1 is 46.939,20€. Please note: this is not the gross annual salary for the candidate. This figure refers to the total amount of funding available to the university that will hire the doctoral candidate, taking into account the living and mobility allowance funding from the EU MSCA as well as national laws. Applicants should be aware that their annual gross salary may well be significantly less than this amount, once the university has covered costs they incur such as pension and national insurance, subject to national laws. The annual gross salary the candidate receives will also be subject to tax, employment and pension deductions, depending on national employment laws.

According to the indications of the MSCA-DN program, the above amount may be increased by 660€ per month for researchers with family obligations.

This doctoral position is funded by the EU MSCA Programme.