Scaling out public participation and co-design practices for climate transitions

Recruiting university

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

Main supervisor

Professor Francesca Rizzo, Department of Design, Politecnico di Milano, Milan (Italy)


Professor Alessandro Deserti, Department of Design, Politecnico di Milano, Milan (Italy)

Other co-supervisors/mentors and organisations

Dr Elizabeth Calderon (Democratic Society, Belgium) (mentor), Dr Carolina Giraldo (Climate-KIC, Denmark) (mentor), Prof Mikołaj Cześnik (SWPS) (co-supervisor).


36 months

Required profile

A design researcher or professional with expertise in service design, strategic design, or design thinking, and preferably, knowledge or experience in sustainable transition and co-design for public participation. A Master’s degree in design, policy studies, sustainability management, computer science, social sciences, or related fields is required.

Researcher’s mentality

We are looking for individuals who are open-minded, curious, enthusiastic, and precise. They should be proactive, capable of working independently, and enjoy collaborating within interdisciplinary fields and sectors. Strong personal motivation for engaging in design research is essential.

Desired skills

The ideal candidate should have an interest in design practices and the evolution of socio-technical systems, should be able to adopt a systemic perspective and be open to developing qualitative research methodology skills. Strong social and empathy-based skills, effective organisational and communication abilities, proficiency in spoken and written English, good academic writing skills, and visualization skills are highly valued.


This PhD position centres on the study of co-design practices for climate transitions involving public organisations, adopting a systemic perspective and investigating how they acquire new knowledge and capabilities to support their transformation.

Special objectives

1) Analyse existing frameworks for introducing public participation and co-design in public administration, examining adoption and scaling. 2) Investigate and map current strategies to scale public participation and co-design practices for climate transitions in public administration across different European and global contexts (through case studies). 3) Triangulate information to develop a framework at the intersection of co-design, policy science, transitions, and design for sustainability to scale up co-design and public participation for climate transitions in public administration, with a special focus on capability building and organisational change.


The theoretical and methodological structure of the project will be developed at the Department of Design of Politecnico di Milano in close collaboration with funded research projects. This will require the candidate to engage in practice-based research and case studies, as well as to enhance or develop new theoretical conceptual frameworks and guidelines for organisational change and capacity building to institutionalise public participation and co-design for climate transition.


Democratic Society (Belgium) (3 months) with mentor Elizabeth Calderon, to refine and validate the knowledge landscape and collect/enrich the pool of cases for analysis.
Climate-KIC (Denmark) (6 months) with mentor Dr Carolina Giraldo to test and validate the analysis of cases and the initial proposal of framework with public administrations across Europe leveraging/involving the extensive EU-wide network of Climate-KIC in at least 3 countries.

What makes this doctoral research project exciting?

This research project offers an exciting exploration at the convergence of design, sustainability, and democratic participation within the context of climate transitions. It presents a unique opportunity for forward-thinking design researchers to contribute to the advancement of theories and practices related to co-design practices for climate transitions in public organisations. Furthermore, it provides the chance to participate in ongoing European research and innovation projects that involve numerous stakeholders from across Europe within a multidisciplinary environment. By collaborating within the dynamic Co-Design4Transition doctoral network, the candidate will have access to diverse perspectives and collaboration opportunities. The project's emphasis on strengthening the capacities of organisations that play a pivotal role in managing sustainable transitions holds the promise of making a meaningful impact in addressing the urgent 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 it has 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 DC2 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.