Social Design

Social Design Research

A focus on human-centred, participatory, collaborative, and social innovation methods that support social, environmental and economic well-being. The research members aim for their research outcomes to be responsive, sensitive, informed, relevant, rigorous, and impactful.

Social design is a broad term which can include the following:


  • Co-design
  • Participatory design
  • Community design
  • Collaborative design
  • Diffuse design
  • Transition design


It is usually marked by strongly defined elements of 'co-creation' and participation between designers and non-designers. Indeed, social design rests on an expanded definition of both design and 'designers' and it is one which considers objects of design that other forms of design research have regarded as being outside of the direct concerns of design; behaviour, social policies, social processes. This expanded scope has allowed social design, and social design research, to address 'big' societal questions; ageing, health, waste, pollution and climate change, governance, and so on. Furthermore, design is seen as being able to liaise between, broker, bring together other specialists in policy and planning and community development especially. Social innovation and social entrepreneurship are also highlighted as key features of social design.

In terms of social design research in the Lincoln School of Design, we can think about research outputs and projects which involve non-academic partners, clients and groups outside of the University and at local and regional levels especially.

The cross-disciplinary nature of the research means that its members come from different research areas and backgrounds. Our current members include:

  • Professor Anne Chick, Lincoln School of Design
  • Darren Diss, Lincoln School of Design
  • Dr Rowan, Gatfield, Lincoln School of Design
  • Dr Neil Maycroft, Lincoln School of Design
  • Dr Jim Shorthose, Lincoln School of Design
  • Emmanuel Etsename (PhD research on the collaborative amateur production of education videos, which are viewed on mobiles: addressing poor technical resources for Nigerian creative arts academics).
  • Anastasia Samara (PhD research on industrial heritage, cultural regeneration and creative groups in Thessaloniki).
  • Will Wilson (PhD research on catalysing participatory social learning: reformulating the design process as a means to engage all parties in making conscious and informed behavioural changes towards more sustainable practices, particularly in respect to domestic energy use).