Dr Sharon Prendeville


Sharon Prendeville

Dr Sharon Prendeville is a lecturer in design innovation. She specialises in sustainability, with a particular focus on design and business model innovation for a circular economy.

Dr Sharon Prendeville is a lecturer in design within the Institute for Design Innovation. Sharon is Director of the MSc Design Innovation Management programme and leads the Institute’s Design Futures module.

Sharon manages the Institute’s research group activities (reading group, seminars) and leads the development of the Institute's emerging research agenda on design for social change. Her research sits at the intersection of design and sustainability with an emphasis on developing new critical interdisciplinary perspectives on design innovation.

She currently supervises students on topics including design activism, design politics, critical design, design policy and design and international development. Sharon is the Institute's lead point of contact for its role in the AHRC funded Techne doctoral training partnership.

Academic background

Sharon’s research background is at the intersection of design, innovation and sustainability. Through her PhD she specialised in strategic business decision-making in the context of sustainability dilemmas and complexity, and their implication for wider business decisions.

Following her PhD studies, she has worked for the Welsh government as a policy advisor, informing its evidence base to implement EU legislation. She has worked with a range of private and non-profit organisations in the UK and around Europe.

Since then, Sharon has established herself as a recognised scholar and has published widely on design strategy, sustainability and business. Through her postdoctoral studies at the Technical University of Delft (The Netherlands) and Royal College of Art (London) she has developed and expanded her research agenda into critical design perspectives on sustainability and has built a global professional academic network. In 2014, she co-founded a grassroots community mobilized by a philosophy of ‘the commons’ working for sustainable futures.

Current research and collaborations

Sharon is the Principal Investigator on an AHRC-funded early career researcher grant (almost £250,000) that investigates 'The Politics of Design Framing Practices' within the field of sustainability. The project commenced in February 2020 and will develop a new approach to design framing practices working in partnership with UK-based citizen activist groups who address questions of diversity, democracy, and precarity through practices of peer-to-peer exchange, citizen-led democratic processes, and social mobilisation. The project title is: "Progressing the Sustainability Field: A New Approach to Framing Practices in Design for Social Change".

This project is one stream within Sharon's current research agenda on developing interdisciplinary approaches to investigate the political nature of design practices in the context of sustainability. She has a particular interest in the role of design in grassroots and social movements and its capacity to affect the practices and strategies of broader field actors.

She is currently undertaking new work in two specific areas including developing substantial work on theoretical perspectives on discourses of social change in design, as well as developing a conceptual approach that brings together questions of performativity and its relation to critical design.

Sharon is working on two minor projects. Together with her colleague Dr Burçe Celik (Institute for Media and Creative Industries, Loughborough University London) she is currently coordinating a design panel on the topic of 'Dewesternising Design Histories' as part of the upcoming Symposium on 'Reorienting Media Histories' at Loughborough University London. With Dr Vicky Lofthouse (Institute for Design Innovation, Loughborough University London) and Dr Kersty Hobson (Cardiff University), she is conducting a pilot study to develop insights on perceptions of citizen-consumers within the sustainability framework of 'circular economy'.

Current PhD / research supervisions

Noémi Zajzon - "Forming Design Action for Acts of Citizenship"
Federico Vaz - “Policy Innovation by Design: Studies on how design is being and could be used to innovate public policymaking.”
Boeun Hong - "Undesigning Development"

Interests and activities

Sharon holds a number of committee, membership and technical roles. She is a Design Research Society Sustainability SIG member, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and is a technical reviewer for the AHRC-funded Techne Doctoral Training Partnership and a peer reviewer for the upcoming Design Research Society Conference 2020.

In 2018, she was overall Chair of Conversations at the Design Research Society Conference DRS2018 Catalyst, Limerick, Ireland. In 2017 she was a member of the workshop committee for the Design Management Academy Conference in Hong Kong. In 2017, she was also session chair for the track 'Circular Economy and Policy' at the PLATE Product Lifetimes and the Environment Conference in Delft, The Netherlands.

In the past, Sharon has been actively involved in community organising work and outreach activities such as hackathons and creative jams.

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