Dr Sharon Prendeville

Senior Lecturer Design Innovation, Deputy Associate Design Research and Innovation

Sharon Prendeville

Sharon is a senior lecturer in design innovation and specialist in ecological and sustainability theory, environmental movements, and democratic innovation.

Sharon specialises in critical and democratic aspects of sustainability transitions, drawing on theories from environmental and resource politics, social movement studies, and critical studies of design and management. 

Academic background

Sharon has previously held teaching and research posts at TU Delft, The Netherlands (2015-2017), and the Royal College of Art, London (Jan-June 2016, funded project). Her past research includes the Innovate UK-funded ‘Office Chair for Life’ project and ‘Circular Makerspaces’ funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s through the Future-Makerspaces project.

Through her PhD, Sharon specialised in complexity and dilemmas in eco-design decision-making for systemic and sustainable organisational change. She has been a researcher, practitioner, or investigator on a variety of projects working with business, policy and community stakeholders, that bring design to bear on socio-environmental challenges, including presenting evidence to inform eco-design policy to the European Commission.

Current research and collaborations

In 2023, Sharon was appointed to the Design Museum’s Future Observatory Research Steering Group, its national research programme for the green transition delivered in partnership with the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. Sharon was Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded ‘Counter-Framing Design’, early career researcher grant (c. £250,000) that investigated the politics of design framing practices within the field of sustainability. The project developed a new design approach working in partnership with UK-based citizen activist groups interested in citizen-led democratic processes and social mobilisation. She was co-investigator on a HEIF-funded project to develop a citizen-centred ‘Design for Policy Toolkit for Social Innovators’. She was Principal Investigator on the HEIF-funded Un:Edge project which, in collaboration with Public Works and Outlandish, created a set of resources for alternative economy organisations (cooperatives, community interest companies, informal commons groups) to develop new democratic practices and structures in support of ecological and social change. She is co-investigator on a HEIF-funded project to co-develop a community-led Sustainable Canal Strategy for London.

In 2020, she was profiled as one of the AHRC’s Design Research ‘Future Stars’ and was invited Chair of Conversations at DRS2018. In 2014, she co-initiated a transnational collective to explore counter-cultural and peer-to-peer practices for sustainability transitions. Her current research project is a book focusing on a political economic analysis of circular design, drawing on ongoing research with ecological community initiatives globally.

Current PhD / research supervisions

Sharon supervises postdoctoral researchers Dr Pandora Syperek whose work focuses on gender and ecology in museum display, and Dr Anaïs Carlton-Parada whose work focuses on epistemology, commons and ecology. She supervises several research assistants across various ongoing projects. Sharon has supervised three PhD students to completion as lead supervisor (Sophie Declerck 2023; Noémi Zajzon, 2022 and Federico Vaz; 2020) and sat on committees for several others. She has examined PhDs nationally and internationally at various institutions. She is open to expressions of interest from prospective doctoral students working on topics that are closely related to her research interests, including the political economy of sustainable design and eco-social design movements.

Current PhD students:

  • Devika Sharma: Design Activism: An exploration of participation, repertoires, and everyday resistance. Lead Supervisor, Co-Supervisor Prof. Aidan McGarry. (2022-).
  • Kavitha Ravikumar. Taking Sustainability Seriously: Codesigning Futures at Sites of Hyperprojectivity. Lead Supervisor, Co-Supervisor Prof. Mikko Koria, Dr Jukka Rintamaki. (2020-).
  • Vicky Gerrard. Teaching Design as a way to Reclaim Boundaries of Freedom from Within Hostile Environments. Co-supervisor, Lead supervisor Dr Ksenija Kuzmina, Prof Thomas Tufte. (2020-).
  • Boeun Hong. Undesigning Stigma. An Ontological Design Approach to Challenge Stigma. Lead Supervisor, Co-supervisor, Prof Mikko Koria, Dr Jessica Noske-Turner. (2019-).

Interests and activities

Sharon is committed to impactful research working in collaboration with diverse stakeholders. Sharon has presented evidence on ecodesign policy to the European Commission through research undertaken in collaboration with the European Network of Ecodesign Centres (ENEC). In the past, Sharon has secured Loughborough University London’s involvement in Climathon2018, partnering with the London Legacy Development Corporation. Her work has been written about as a pioneering example of ‘twenty first century economics’ by Kate Raworth in her book, Doughnut Economics (Penguin, 2017), which includes initiating a platform for hosting sustainability hackathons that has led to 100s of hackathons globally.

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