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Dr Emma Dewberry


Profile summary

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Professional biography

I joined the Design Group at the Open University as a Senior Lecturer in Design Ecologies in 2008. Prior to this I had been a Senior Lecturer in Design for Sustainability at Loughborough University (2006-2008), a Lecturer in Design at Cranfield University (2001-2006) and at Goldsmiths College, University of London (1998-2001) and a Research Associate at The Judge Business School, Cambridge University (1996-1998)

I am interested in the capacity of design to create sustainable, regenerative futures. Design and design thinking have the potential to intervene in everyday practices through the actions of curious and creative learners, doers and thinkers. My research explores the scope and value of radical design and design ecologies in creating different journeys and destinations for sustainable living. It aims to understand the nature of design, education and leadership that is required to create these transformations.

Research interests

My research interests include: design ecologies; sustainable design education and ecoliteracy; sustainable innovation; design and sufficiency; regenerative design, cyclical production and consumption; product, service systems; and design and democracy.

I have over 40 publications in the broad area of design for sustainability.

I welcome PhD applications in any of the above areas. I am particularly interested in research ideas that develop the ideas, theory and practice of design ecologies, sustainable transition, regenrative design, design and sufficiency and creative ecoliteracies. Information about full-time and part-time studentships in Design, funded by the AHRC's Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral training Programme (DTP) can be found here

I currently supervise three PhD students and have supervised seven candidates to successful completion. I have examined 22 PhDs in the UK and abroad. 

I was a member of the AHRC Design Leadership Fellowship Advisory Group (2017-2020). I regularly review research proposals and have involved in the Peer Review Colleges of the AHRC and EPSRC. I review papers for a number of key design and sustainability journals. I was Membership Secretary and Council Member of the Design Research Society (2015-2019) and am currently the lead convener of the DRS Sustainability Special Interest Group (2018 -present). I have reviewed and organised tracks on sustainable design for the DRS conferences in 2018, 2020.

I was a member of the OU's REF 2014 panel for the Arts and Design submission (UoA34) responsible for reviewing papers and constructing REF narratives.

Funded Research Projects

Co-Investigator EPSRC/ESRC [EP/M017567/1] RECODE Network Project: Business as Unusual: Designing Products with Consumers in the Loop [April 2016]

Co-Investigator EPSRC [EP/J005657/1] SHOCK (NOT) HORROR: mediating radical transformations in infrastructure provision [2011-2014]

Principal investigator: EPSRC [EP/F013116/1] Exploring eco-literacy and its relevance in realizing far-reaching sustainable innovation [2007-2008]

Principal investigator: EPSRC [GR/S90645/01] Design Dialogues: An exploratory study of design narratives, methodologies and tools towards achieving Factor 10 outcomes [2005-2008].

Teaching interests

I have focused on the area of Design Ecologies in my teaching since completing my PhD in Ecodesign with the Open University in 1996. I have taught widely in this area including writing for, and directing two pioneering courses: the first BA Ecodesign in the UK (Goldsmiths College, University of London 1998-2001); and the first MSc in Design for Sustainability in the UK (Cranfield University, 2001-2006).

At the Open University I am the co-lead for developing a strategic investment case for a new undergraduate design qualification (2021), and part of the leadership team managing its production (2021-2027). I also steer the development of the new Open learn Design Hub which will support the visibility of design teaching and research at the Open University

My past OU design teaching responsibilities have included a long period of chairing the third level design module Innovation: designing for change (T317) (2014-2020). I was part of the production team for this module and sole author of Block 2 and co-author of Block 5 (2011 – 2014). I am  a member of the design qualification team (Q61) which looks across the spectrum of design teaching at the OU and at the strategic opportunities to develop undergraduate and postgraduate design curriculum. I was also part of the module production team of the award winning first level design module Design Thinking (U101) and subsequently chaired early presentations of this module. I have been a member of, and chaired the exam boards for U101 and T317, and been a design representative for exam board of The Engineering Project T450.

I was a project tutor on the Engineering project module, T176, 2022 and 2023. I was the critical reader for the 3rd level environmental management module, T892 (2022)

I was critical reader for the FutureLearn course 'Climate change - transforming your orgnisation' alongside supporting thedevelpment of the assessment strategy. I chaired the first year of the course's presentation and the exam board.

I am the Sustainability Lead for the School of Engineering and Innovation, developing support for the integration of sustainability acorss teaching and research. I worked as a consultant academic on the OU-BBC co-production Greta Thunberg - a year to save the world (BBC1, April 2021). I contributed learning resources to Open Learn to support this programme and was part of a small group of academics who created Open Learn's Sustainability Hub. I have also supported OU resources around COP26, contributing an article to the OL's Climate Hub and particpating in a Mock Cop with Scottish Schools organised by OU Scotland.

In terms of post-graduate training I suport the OU's AHRC funded Open-Oxford-Cambridge DTP through reviewing corss university PhD applications. I also lead the OU contribution to the AHRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), Design Star . I have been a postgraduate tutor in the school of Engineering and Innovation (2017-2020)

I am the external examiner for the MA Sustainable Design at Kingston University (from Jan 2022). Past external examiner roles include: fMSc in Energy and Industrial Sustainability at DMU, Leicester;  MA Sustainable Design at Brighton University; and MA Design Futures and Metadesign at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

I have been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) since 2002 and a Senior Fellow (SFHEA) since 2021. I have been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA) since 2001.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Design Group: Design InnovationGroupFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology


Externally funded projects

Business as Unusual: Designing Products with Consumers
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Apr 201631 Dec 2016EPSRC Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

This project seeks to address the key research question: How should we engage users in New Product Development in future re-distributed models of sustainable production and consumption? This will involve mapping the challenges and opportunities for user engaged design and manufacture, and investigating their application in order to bridge the gap between users, companies and the products they produce. In addition, it will seek to understand how the promotion of resource efficient product lifecycles can be incorporated within future, more localised and responsive structures of manufacturing and product adaptation. In this project we will explore the people-product interactions across the entire lifecycle of a product from front end NPD through to products’ repair and afterlife. We will achieve that through addressing both fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and consumer durable products, such as large and small household appliances, and will involve representative industrial partners from those sectors with whom the applicants have a working relationship.

AHRC doctoral studentship award in Design Design Star Doctoral Training Centre (Studentships awarded 2014-2018)
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Jan 201431 Dec 2021AHRC Arts & Humanities Research Council

AHRC studentship strategy in the design area Design Star Doctoral Training Centre Migrated project - updated to reflect funds awarded.


Sustainable and Responsible Design Education: Tensions in Transitions (2022)
Boehnert, Joanna; Sinclair, Matt and Dewberry, Emma
Sustainability, 14, Article 6397(11)

Considering embodied energy and carbon in heritage buildings – a review (2019)
Wise, F.; Moncaster, A.; Jones, D. and Dewberry, E.
IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 329, Article 12002

Consumer Intervention Mapping—A Tool for Designing Future Product Strategies within Circular Product Service Systems (2018-06-19)
Sinclair, Matt; Sheldrick, Leila; Moreno, Mariale and Dewberry, Emma
Sustainability, 10, Article 2088(6)

Economic crisis and social learning for the provision of public services in two Spanish municipalities (2016)
Castan Broto, Vanesa and Dewberry, Emma
Journal of Cleaner Production, 112(4) (pp. 3018-3027)

Are wildcard events on infrastructure systems opportunities for transformational change? (2015-03-31)
Walsh, C. L.; Glendinning, S.; Castan Broto, V.; Dewberry, E. and Powell, M.
Futures, 67 (pp. 1-10)

Shaped by Shock: Staff on the Emergency Department 'Shop Floor' (2014-06-01)
Powell, Mark; Glendinning, Stephanie; Castan Broto, Vanesa; Dewberry, Emma and Walsh, Claire
Anthropology in Action, 21(2) (pp. 14-22)

What can we learn about transitions for sustainability from infrastructure shocks? (2014-05-31)
Castán Broto, Vanesa; Glendinning, Stephanie; Dewberry, Emma; Walsh, Claire and Powell, Mark
Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 84 (pp. 186-196)

Critical Reflections on Designing Product Service Systems (2013-12)
Dewberry, E. L.; Cook, M; Gottberg, A; Longhurst, P. J. and Angus, A
The Design Journal, 16(4) (pp. 408-430)

Building information modelling design ecologies: a new model? (2013)
Jones, Derek and Dewberry, Emma
International Journal of 3-D Information Modeling, 2(1) (pp. 53-64)

Exploring the need for more radical sustainable innovation: what does it look like and why? (2009-03)
Dewberry, Emma and Monteiro de Barros, Margarida
International Journal of Sustainable Engineering, 2(1) (pp. 28-39)

Le developpement de nouveaux produits: une comparaison des pratiques japonaises, britanniques et nord-americaines (2004-12)
Dostaler, Isabelle; Oliver, Nick and Dewberry, Emma
Gestion, 28(4) (pp. 7-18)

New product development benchmarks: The Japanese, North American, and UK consumer electronics industries (2004-08)
Oliver, Nick; Dostaler, Isabelle and Dewberry, Emma
Journal of High Technology Management Research, 15(2) (pp. 249-260)

Designing out crime: Insights from ecodesign (2003-01)
Dewberry, Emma
Security Journal, 16(1) (pp. 51-62)

Visioning Sustainability through Design (2002-04)
Dewberry, Emma and Sherwin, Chris
Greener Management International(37) (pp. 125-138)

Demi: A case study in design for sustainability (2002)
Fletcher, Kate and Dewberry, Emma
International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 3(1) (pp. 38-47)

Spaceship ecodesign (1996)
Dewberry, Emma and Goggin, Phillip
Co-Design: the interdisciplinary journal of design and contextual studies(5/6) (pp. 12-17)

Design Ecologies Exercise: The Innovation Landscape Matrix (2024)
Dewberry, Emma; Boehnert, Joanna and Sinclair, Matt
In: Egenhoefer, Rachel Beth ed. Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Design, 2nd ed. (pp. 618-623)
ISBN : 9781003365433 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

If you're not in an existential crisis as a designer in Sustainable Design, you're not doing it right! (2022-06-21)
Boehnert, J; Dewberry, E L and Wilson, Garrath
In: Tsekleves, Emmanuel and Noel, Lesley-Ann eds. The Little Book of Designer's Existential Crises in 2022 (pp. 19-22)
Publisher : University of Lancaster | Published : Lancaster

Eco-intelligence: Designing for the Real World (2012-03-01)
Dewberry, Emma
In: Garner, Steve and Evans, Chris eds. Design and Designing: A Critical Introduction
ISBN : 978-1847885777 | Publisher : Berg | Published : London

Factor 10: the changing landscape of learning (2004-09)
Dewberry, Emma
In: Bhamra, Tracy and Hon, Bernard eds. Design and Manufacture for Sustainable Development 2004 (pp. 145-155)
ISBN : 978-1-86058-470-1 | Publisher : Professional Engineering Publishing (Wiley) | Published : Bury St Edmunds, UK

Sustainable Consumption by Design (2001)
Fletcher, Kate; Dewberry, Emma and Goggin, Phillip
In: Cohen, Maurie J. and Murphy, Joseph eds. Exploring Sustainable Consumption: Environmental Policy and the Social Sciences (pp. 213-224)
ISBN : 80439209 | Publisher : Pergamon (Elsevier) | Published : London, UK

Unlearning Unsustainability: A letter to Design Educators on Sustainability Delay (2023)
BOEHNERT, Joanna and Dewberry, Emma
In : The 7th International Conference for Design Education Researchers (29 Nov - 1 Dec 2023, London, UK)

Eco-literacy in Transition: the role of design ecologies in developing our capacity for radical change (2018-06-17)
Dewberry, Emma
In : Transition Design Symposium 2016 (17-19 Jun 2016, Dartington Hall) (pp. 127-136)

Developing Scenarios for Product Longevity and Sufficiency (2017-11-08)
Dewberry, E. L.; Sheldrick, L.; Moreno, M.; Sinclair, M. and Makatsoris, C.
In : 2nd Conference on Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE 2017) (8-10 Nov 2017, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands) (pp. 108-113)

A landscape of repair (2016-11-07)
Dewberry, E. L.; Saca, L.; Moreno, M.; Sheldrick, L.; Sinclair, M.; Makatsoris, C. and Charter, M.
In : Proceedings of the Sustainable Innovation 2016. Circular Economy Innovation and Design. Towards Sustainable product Design: 21st International Conference (7-8 Nov 2016, Epsom, Surrey, UK) (pp. 76-85)

Out of sight, out of mind: curriculum representation in design education today (2015-06-28)
Aitchison, Iain; Dewberry, Emma and Lotz, Nicole
In : 3rd International Conference for Design Education Researchers (28-30 Jun 2015, Chicago, Il, USA) (pp. 1536-1551)

Looking Through the Lens of Shock: Exploring Opportunities for Learning and Innovation for Adaptable Infrastructure (2013)
Dewberry, E.; Castán Broto, V.; Glendinning, S; Walsh, C. L. and Powell, M.
In : Sustainable Innovation 2013 8th International Conference (4-5 Nov 2013, Epsom, UK)

Building Information Modelling design ecologies - a new model? (2012-09)
Jones, Derek and Dewberry, Emma
In : First UK Academic conference on BIM: Conference Proceedings (5-9 Sep 2012, Northumbria University)

Developing an ecology of mind in design (2011-08-15)
Dewberry, Emma
In : 18th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 11) (15-18 Aug 2011, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Design interventions, prediction and science in the sustainable transition of large, complex systems, (2010-11-17)
Dewberry, Emma and Johnson, Jeffrey
In : The 2nd International Conference on Design Engineering and Science (ICDES2010) (17-19 Nov, Tokyo)

The fundamental role of ecological intelligence in creating resilient business practice (2010-11-03)
Dewberry, Emma and Monterio de Barros, Margarida
In : ‘Changing Times, New Challenges’: A Social Marketing and Socially Responsible Management Conference (3 Nov 2010, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, UK)

Can we design sustainable habits of mind? (2008-07-08)
Dewberry, Emma
In : Introducing the Affective in Sustainable Design (08 Jul 2008, Central St Martins College, University of the Arts London)

Re-visioning design priorities through sustainability education (2007-08-28)
Bhamra, Tracey and Dewberry, Emma
In : ICED 16th International Conference on Engineering Design, Design for Society - Innovation, Sustainability, Knowledge (28-31 Aug 2007, Paris)

Exploring the Need For Different Dialogues In Design (2006-11)
Dewberry, Emma and De Barros, M. Monteiro
In : WonderGround - 2006 Design Research Society 3rd International Conference (1-4 Nov 2006, Sociedade de Geografia de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal)

Dialogues on Design for Sustainability: Animating different strategies and outputs (2006)
Dewberry, Emma and De Barros, M. Monteiro
In : 11th International Conference - Sustainable Innovation 06: Global challenges, issues and solutions (23-24 Oct 2006, Chicago, USA)

Seeing sustainable futures: the potential of design education (2002-09-03)
Dewberry, Emma
In : The Design History Society Situated Knowledges Conference (3-5 Sep 2002, Aberystwyth)

demi: linking design with sustainability (2001)
Dewberry, Emma and Fletcher, Kate
In : The 7th European Roundtable on Cleaner Production, IIIEE (2-4 May 2001, Lund, Sweden)

Crime reduction through design: insights from ecodesign (2000)
Dewberry, Emma
In : The British Criminology Conference (5-7 Jul 2000, Leicester University, Leicester)

Exploring Ecodesign: changing perceptions of design and development (2000)
Dewberry, Emma
In : The Ninth Annual Business Strategy and the Environment Conference (18-19 Sep 2000, Devonshire Hall, University of Leeds)

New product development benchmarks: the Japanese, North American and UK consumer electronics industries (1999)
Oliver, Nick; Dewberry, Emma and Dostaler, Isabelle
In : Academy of Management Conference (6-11 Aug 1999, Chicago)

New Product Performance and Practice: An international benchmarking study in the consumer electronics industry (1999)
Oliver, N.; Dewberry, E. and Dostaler, I.
In : EIASM 6th International Product Development Conference (8 Jul 2008, Cambridge)

Product Development Processes in Companies with Class-Leading Products (1998)
Oliver, N.; Dewberry, E.; Nilson, P. and Shamir, T.
In : 5th International Product Development Management Conference (25-26 May 1998, Como, Italy)

EcoDesign and beyond: steps towards sustainability (1995)
Dewberry, Emma and Goggin, Phillip
In : 1st International Conference of the European Academy of Design (11-13 Apr 1995, Salford University)

Business as Unusual: Designing products with consumers in the loop (2017-03)
Makatsoris, H.; Moreno, M. A.; Sheldrick, L.; Dewberry, E. and Sinclair, M.
Cranfield University

Escaping from the old ideas (2010-12-10)
Dewberry, Emma
Design Research Society

Nurturing ecological habits of mind in design (2009-10-12)
Dewberry, Emma
2012 Imperative Teach-In

Creating Sustainability - Ideas that inform the design of safer communities (2008-11-19)
Dewberry, Emma
Emma Dewberry

From ecodesign to sustainable innovation: exploring the potential of design education (2008-09-22)
Dewberry, Emma
The Design Council

Achieving Household Waste Prevention Through Product Service Systems, Technical Report 2: Developing Experimental Product Service Systems (2008)
Gottberg, Annika; Dewberry, Emma; Maggs, Huw and Cook, Matthew
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Design Sustainability - Visions on Education (2002-01)
Dewberry, Emma
The British Council

Packaging for Sustainability (2002)
Dewberry, Emma
Package Design, 4:113

Lessons from Ecodesign (2000-04)
Dewberry, Emma
Cambridge University