21 July 2016 10:32

A Lancaster University academic is set to take a pivotal role in shaping the research landscape in design.

Professor Paul Rodgers of ImaginationLancasterPaul Rodgers, Professor of Design at the University’s ImaginationLancaster, is one of only three new leadership Fellows, focusing on design, heritage and modern languages, who have been appointed by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Chief Executive Officer at the Arts and Humanities Research Council Professor Andrew Thompson said: “The new priority area leadership Fellows will play a pivotal role as key figures in shaping the research landscape.

“As champions of design, heritage and modern languages research they will help to grow collaboration within and beyond universities, identify fruitful areas in need of more research and look to deepen the AHRC's engagement within the academic community.

“An essential ingredient of being a leadership Fellow is to identify new and emerging trends in their respective fields and help provide advice to the AHRC to respond to the latest developments in research. Their expertise will also help to showcase the importance of design, heritage and modern languages research, learning lessons from the past, and equipping society with the knowledge and skills to deal with the challenges of the present and future.”

Professor Rodgers will help the AHRC shape new initiatives in design, which will look at how research and an increased understanding of the design process can showcase the profound difference that design can make to societies.

Key areas of focus for the design theme are expected to include building capacity in research, strengthening existing research communities and extending the understanding for how design contributes to innovation and social change such as improving the quality of public services.

Professor Rodgers has more than 20 years’ experience in design research, working with a range of commercial, public and third sector organizations such as National Museums Scotland, Greggs the Bakers and Alzheimer Scotland.

He said: “I want to become a design champion on behalf of the AHRC and the Design community. My aim is to support a transformational shift in the focus, quality and impact of design research, and that my fellowship will leave a legacy of a bolder and stronger interdisciplinary design community with a new generation of early career researchers engaging with a ‘Design for Change’ agenda.

“Working collaboratively with researchers in other disciplinary areas, I will take the lead in identifying opportunities for collaboration, trends in research and will look to develop a positive vision around some key challenges, such as health, ageing and poverty, where design research can play a leading role.”

Professor Rodgers is author of nine books on design including the recently published The Routledge Companion to Design Research. His new book, Design School: Education, Research and Practice Beyond Disciplines, will be published later this year.

Starting their 3-year fellowships in January 2017 the three new Fellows, including Professor Rodney Harrison from University College London, who will cover heritage and Professor Janice Carruthers from Queen's University, Belfast, who will become the modern languages Fellow, will act as ambassadors for these three strategically important areas of research for the AHRC.

The AHRC currently has eight Leadership Fellows covering strategic priorities or thematic areas such as science in culture, digital transformations and connected communities and is looking to recruit a Creative Economy Champion.