Replicating and scaling up different public participation practices for circular transitions

Recruiting university

Aalborg University (AAU), Department of Architecture Design and Media Technology, Copenhagen (Denmark)

Main supervisor

Professor Nicola Morelli, Department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology, AAU, Copenhagen (Denmark)


Professor Luca Simeone, Department of Architecture Design and Media Technology, AAU, Copenhagen (Denmark)

Other co-supervisors/mentors and organisations

Julie Hjort (Danish Design Centre, Denmark) (mentor); Prof Derk Loorbach (Drift Institute, Erasmus University, Belgium) (mentor); Prof Ramia Mazé (Univeristy of the Arts London, UK) (co-supervisor)


36 months

Required profile

Master’s degree in service/strategic/systemic design, policy studies, innovation management, urban governance and ecology studies, social science or another related field; strong experience or knowledge of systems theory and practice, human-centred and collaborative design, social sciences.

Researcher’s mentality

Interest in working at the intersection between co-design, political science, systems innovation, circular economies; open-minded, curious, enthusiastic, and accurate; proactive, capable of working collaboratively and independently among different organisations and research cultures, and likes to work in a team; good organizational and communication skills and a mastery of the English language in spoken and written form.

Desired skills

Being part of international and cross-disciplinary training networks, the doctoral candidate should have excellent ‘soft skills’ essential for working and facilitating interactions with stakeholders (e.g., citizens, residents, business or local government employees) as well as having or being open to developing qualitative methodology skills and an interest in systemic and participatory design. Because of interactions with participants, it is preferable that the candidate also speaks Danish (or other Scandinavian languages), but this is not essential.


In particular, this PhD focuses on building organisational and cross-sector capabilities in enabling democratic and participatory processes for public innovation that support transition towards socio-technical models based on circular processes. Expected results are: 1) Conceptual framework integrating current practices and theories on democratic participation and systems innovation in processes relating to climate transitions; 2) Qualitative data about barriers and challenges to replicating and scaling public participation; 3) Thematic analysis of barriers to and opportunities for capability building enabling replicating and scaling public participation services; 4) Guidelines for organisational capability building and cross-level public participation.


The theoretical and methodological structure of the project will be developed at the departments of Architecture, Design and Media Technology at Aalborg University, Copenhagen. The methodological approach will include literature review, analysis of existing cases, qualitative interviews, collaboration with local stakeholders, scenario development and testing and systemic prototyping. This approach will be based on the engagement of local communities, organisations and institutions, to experiment and propose socio-institutional structures that support the replication and scaling up of practices that lead to circular transition.


Danish Design Center (Denmark) (3 months) with mentor Julie Hjort;
Drift/Erasmus University Rotterdam (Netherlands) (6 months) with mentor Professor Derk Loorbach.

What makes this doctoral research project exciting?

While several cases have been observed of participatory processes leading to niche innovation for circular transition, the question of how to scale up (institutionalising) or scale out (replicating) circular transition is still unexplored. Yet scalability is a crucial need for transition policies to succeed. This doctoral research will therefore explore the issue through hands-on engagement with institutions, communities and organisations, in a perspective of how to generate a larger impact in the direction of transition.

What’s special about the host department/university?

The activities of this project will be carried out by the Service Design Lab (ServicedesignLab.aau.dk), a welcoming and inclusive research lab dedicated to studying and applying service design as an exploratory, co-creative and empowering approach to address broad issues of societal concern. Key themes of interest are social innovation, design for policies, co-creation, urban transition, service design for public sector, to name just a few.The team behind the Service Design Lab has a long and consolidated experience on research and innovation actions and EU-funded research. Typical areas of interventions are related to (1) design-oriented methods and tools that enable co-creation processes and stakeholders’ engagement for the definition of socio-technical ecosystems and interactions that support the generation of value in services; (2) technological aspects of service design and digital social innovation, emerging technology and ways to integrate them into service design practice, service design and the city, smart cities and urban changes, mobility and other relevant urban phenomena; (3) civic service design: service design for public administrations, for cultural events and to support migrants and disadvantaged communities.

Gross salary

We offer employment as a full-time doctoral researcher. The annual funding available to the Aalborg University for this position DC5 is 61.056,00 €. 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.