Identifying leverage points and facilitating multi-level design experiments that enable just ecological transition

Recruiting university

University of the Arts London (UAL), London (UK)

Main supervisor

Professor Ramia Mazé, London College of Communications (LCC), UAL, London (UK)


Dr Niki Wallace, Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Art (CCW), UAL, London (UK)

Other co-supervisors/mentors and organisations

Dr Fiona Lambe (Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden) (mentor); Senior Manager or Manager (EY Seren, UK) (mentor); Prof. Luca Simeone (Aalborg University, Denmark) (co-supervisor).


36 months

Required profile

Master’s degree [or equivalent/extensive professional experience] in environmental or sustainability sciences, transitions management or transition design, strategic or service design, or another related field; strong experience or knowledge of systems theory and practice, human-centred and collaborative design, social sciences.

Researcher’s mentality

A successful Doctoral Candidate (DC) is likely to have an attitude that is open-minded, curious and enthusiastic, and; a working style that is proactive, analytic and empathic.

Desired skills

The DC should have, or being open to developing, strong academic and analytic skills as well as qualitative research methodologies and a keen interest in design, systems thinking and creativity. The project requires mastery of spoken and written English. Due to the collaborative, multi-stakeholder and transdisciplinary nature of this project, the DC should have excellent ‘soft skills’ including communication, facilitation, organizational and self-, team, and project management skills. Given the transdisciplinary nature of the project, it’s desirable that the DC is attentive to issues of gender, power and diversity. A strong design orientation (or practical experience) is desirable.


The doctoral research project aims to study and integrate particular approaches and practices from ‘transition studies’ and ‘design for sustainability’ best suited to enable a just ecological transition. An important outcome will be a conceptual framework that articulates set of key approaches, theories and tools relevant to ‘transition design’, evidenced through concrete cases. Analyzed case studies will be a basis for evidencing relevant approaches within actual transition processes as well as for identifying gaps and future opportunities. In addition, particular transition design methods and tools will be developed and advanced. Thus, cumulatively, the purpose of this research is to provide a set of conceptual and practical ‘heuristics’ that advance knowledge across multiple academic disciplines and that is relevant to practitioners in consultancies, governmental and third sector organizations. This DC will, together with several other DCs, contribute to a higher-level objective of understanding the application and adoption of design, transition and public participation practices that facilitate organisational change at different scales.


The doctoral research will involve study of current theories and practices regarding just climate transition. This will involve an in-depth review of current literature and practice, with the objective to integrate knowledge across transition theory and related organizational and design practices. More specifically, this will involve analyzing particular theories of change and mapping out multiple related tools (such as ‘multi-level perspective’, ‘x-curve’, etc.).

Case study methodology will involve a survey and selection of relevant cases (including from secondment organizations Stockholm Environment Institute and EY Seren), which may be ongoing long-term cases, historical or ‘live’ projects. Indicative topics include mobility, waste, energy, food system and land-use transitions, with stakeholders spanning supply chains, businesses and government, civil society households and indigenous communities. Document analysis, qualitative methods (such as interviews) and design may be employed to shed light on whether and how such theories of change and tools can be put into practice, and, furthermore, how these may impact just climate transitions.

While literature review and case studies will the primary research methods, practice research may include designing and/or testing tools related to transitions and futures; using or training others in collaboration, facilitation and creative methods and tools; developing transition design roles within organizational and policy contexts; ‘speculative experimentation’ with developed tools and roles within ‘live’ cases.


Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden (3 months) supported by a mentor (Dr Fiona Lambe) to map transition cases in relation to the extant literature on ecological transitions and design within multi-level systems.
EY Seren in UK (6 months) supported by a mentor to develop case studies of facilitated transition design experiments including participant observation and interviews.

What’s special about the host department/university?

University of the Arts London (UAL) is a large and highly reputed specialist university formed of 6 historic London art and design colleges including London College of Communication (LCC) and Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Art (CCW). UAL’s profile includes research and knowledge exchange that is both academically rigorous and that has social purpose. Design research in relevant networks and groups at UAL (including Service Design Futures group at LCC) excels in transdisciplinary subjects such as ‘design for policy’ and ‘transition design.’ The selected DC is expected to live in London and to contribute to the academic profile of UAL/LCC including relevant research networks within the university and the CoDesign4Transitions network. Secondments will involve travel as well as remote work. Collaboration between types of organizations, sectors and countries is crucial to the research program and individual DC research projects, thus the DC is expected to be willing to travel (locally and nationally).

Gross salary

We offer employment as a full-time doctoral researcher. The annual funding available to the University of the Arts London for this position DC11 is £53,404.08. 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 UK Research and Innovation.