Keynote Speakers



Tuesday 6th, 1220 – 1250 BST
Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer, Associate Professor, Delft University of Technology  


To tackle complex societal challenges, we need to work and learn together across disciplines and across non-academic stakeholders, including end-users of the interventions we are proposing. Different disciplines have developed methods and models to have stakeholders participate in their work, for example citizen participation in policy making, participatory design in product design, co-management in environmental management, and socially engaged art in the arts. In this talk I will share some stories of my experiences in applying participatory techniques in my research and design work and show why it is important to be aware of people’s strengths and power relationships, and how they impact the success of our collaborations. This means that in some cases it is better to think about participation in terms of partnership. I will also show how collective reflexive techniques can support working and learning together.

Mieke is a researcher, designer and educator with an interest in methods and practices to tackle complex societal challenges. She is an expert in practices that bridge disciplines including transdisciplinary learning and collaboration, systems thinking, and design framing practices. Mieke travelled different disciplinary domains, starting with a PhD in human-centred design (University of Twente, cum laude), research and design in public sector innovation, and research and education in transdisciplinarity (both University of Technology Sydney). She received a Delft Technology Fellowship in 2019, which she used to co-found the Systemic Design lab at Delft University of Technology.
In this lab she and her colleagues study the role of design, systems thinking, and transdisciplinary ways of working to create systemic change in society. They apply this research across a variety of societal domains including wellbeing, education, work, safety and social justice.


Wednesday 7th, 1200 – 1230 BST
Rebecca Cain, Professor of Transdisciplinary Design, Loughborough University (Twitter @drrebeccacain)






With its focus on disciplinary collaboration and engagement with external stakeholders, transdisciplinary design can fuse arts, humanities, science and engineering disciplines to develop new creative practices to enable the innovation necessary to address complex systemic challenges. But what are the characteristics of a transdisciplinary design thinker, how do they develop these skills, and are research and education infrastructures currently set-up in the right way to nurture these types of thinkers? My talk will make a case for the power of Transdisciplinary Design as an approach to designing in a systemic way for complex times, and will explore the notion of future ‘transdisciplinary design thinkers’.  
As a human-centred design researcher with fifteen years experience of working in engineering, design and creative arts, across the mobility, healthcare and energy sectors, on projects as diverse as designing new systems for charging electric vehicles to using design and creative approaches to tackle homelessness,  I have developed, (albeit unintentionally in the beginning), into a transdisciplinary designer – ‘a specialist in being a generalist’.  Drawing upon the latest theoretical thinking around transdisciplinary design and illustrated with my real-life experiences of transdisciplinary working across industries, sectors and education, my talk will probe what it is to be a transdisciplinary designer, now, and the potential this holds for the future.

Prof Rebecca Cain has a Chair in Transdisciplinary Design in the School of Design and Creative Arts at Loughborough University, UK.  She also holds the role of Associate Dean for Enterprise, is Co-Director of the Design for Future Living Lab and is Director of a transdisciplinary Centre in Doctoral Training: HOME (Harnessing Opportunities for Meaningful Environments).  Prior to joining Loughborough nearly four years ago, she spent twelve years in Manufacturing Engineering, where she was an Associate Professor and Head of the Experiential Engineering Research Group at WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group) at Warwick University, UK.  As a human-centred designer, originally trained in industrial design, Rebecca has led projects with a value of £7m (£3m as Principal Investigator) which aim to develop positive and meaningful experiences (often technology-based) for people and society.  Using socio-technical approaches, she blends together design, engineering, creative arts, architecture, science, psychology, business, healthcare, social sciences and other disciplines to create diverse, transdisciplinary teams who work in collaboration with partners from business, the public and voluntary sector. Rebecca is the Vice-Chair of the Design Research Society, a member of the Design Museum Learning Committee, an EPSRC peer review college member including cross-council panel member and Chair and has been an Associate Editor of Ergonomics.  Rebecca has Co-Chaired several international Design Conferences, including DRS2020 and was also the founder of SIGWELL (DRS Special Interest Group for Design for Wellbeing).  






Wednesday 7th, 1240 – 1310 BST
Richard Burke, Professor of Sustainable Automotive Propulsion, The University of Bath



The demands on the Automotive sector are shifting at a high pace. Driven by a need to become more sustainable, a perfect storm has presented itself in the form of a complex technological landscape, offering many new but different progress roadmaps combined with an evolution of customer expectations to have more connected and adaptable products with shorter development cycles. In this sense the Automotive industry needs to learn quickly both how to apply new technologies, but also to transition from long product development cycles to a world more aligned with computing and software products. New players and concepts such as Tesla and Uber are challenging the personal mobility sector to evolve. For an organisation to succeed in this environment, they need more than just mechanical and electrical engineers; critically, they need collaborating experts, or individuals with both a deep understanding of their own technical field, but with an ability to understand and work with other experts from a broad range of fields.
To respond to this challenge, we have introduced drastic changes to higher education to train the next generation of automotive sector professionals. Staring at doctoral level with the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems, we have set up an integrated taught/research degree that accepts applications from any discipline. By building a truly transdisciplinary cohort, and co-teaching all students within a Masters of Research programme, we build up a learning environment that necessitates transdisciplinary thinking. Sounds great! – but it is really hard work! How do you engage equally within the same classroom a mechanical engineering, a mathematics and a psychology student? This talk will discuss our approach, experiences, the challenges and opportunities we have experienced and what we have planned in the future to cascade this down to taught student programmes.

Professor Burke is a researcher in automotive propulsion within the Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) at the University of Bath. He received a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Bath in 2011. He has led research projects with a total value of £4.5m and published over 80 papers on thermal and electrical propulsion systems. He is a Fellow of the IMechE and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and one of the directors of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems. Through this centre, he is pioneering transdisciplinary education for the automotive sector, by creating a research training environment that invites students from any discipline to collaborate to address the challenges of sustainable and affordable mobility. 


Thursday 8th, 1300 – 1330 BST
Chris Speed, Chair of Design Informatics, The University of Edinburgh    


Transdisciplinary engineering has consistently used qualitative and quantitative data to inform the development of products, services and systems for many years. However, whilst the methods for gathering data have grown to reflect research through design approaches, there has been little classification of the kinds of data that we are encountering in an age of big data, nor to frame how we design alongside within it. This talk revisits a framework for designers that was originally published in 2016 at the Design Research Society (Speed & Oberlander 2016) conference to reflect on the existing methods that designers have for working with data, in order to anticipate its ability to transform design process as its level of performativity increases. The paper used the ablative case in Latin that allows designers to better consider when they are designing from/with/by data. The talk asks ‘transdisciplinary engineers’ more urgently than ever, to consider how they design from/with/by data to ensure that future systems in which people, things and computers co-exist in the production of data, do so ethically.

Prof. Chris Speed FRSE, is Chair of Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh where he collaborates with a wide variety of partners to explore how design provides methods to adapt, and create products and services within a networked society. He is especially favours transgressive design interventions, to help identify and promote the values we care about most, including coffee machines that order their own ethical supplies, hairdryers that ask you to wait for the right time to blow dry your hair, and apps for sham marriages.Chris co-directs the Institute for Design Informatics that is home to a combination of researchers working across the fields of interaction design, temporal design, anthropology, software engineering and digital architecture, as well as the PhD, MA/MFA and MSc and Advanced MSc programmes. Chris has an established track record in directing large complex grants with industry partners, being involved in 25 research grants (leading on 10) since 2009 across ESPRC, ESRC and AHRC totaling in excess of £21m. Chris is Director of the recently funded £6mil (£7.6m) Creative Informatics R&D Partnership, one of the nine UK AHRC funded Creative Industries Clusters.

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