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Dr Anne Schiffer


About Dr Anne Schiffer

Dr Anne Schiffer explores how design thinking can help tackle local and global real world challenges, particularly in the areas of delivering sustainable energy transitions, energy and more recently, water access.

The interdisciplinary nature of her research brings together participatory/ co-design practice, urbanism, feminist development theory and design anthropology. She holds a PhD from Queen’s University Belfast titled ‘Designers in International Development: a reflection on designing Gambian energy futures’. The thesis provides a critiques the role of designers in international development contexts.

Prior to joining Leeds Beckett University, Anne led the Scottish part of Community Power, a European funded project that aimed to improve policy and legislation to speed up the development of community-owned renewable energy. She also sits on the board of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a leading environmental campaigning organisation and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.

Current Teaching

Anne is a year and module leader on the BA Product Design course where she teaches across all year groups. She also supervises a number of PhD students in the School of Art, Architecture and Design (AAD). She is the school’s Global Engagement Champion, supporting staff and students to participate in international field trips, exchanges, volunteering and research and chairs the AAD Athena Swan committee to improve gender and ethnic diversity.

Anne has a passion for design thinking as a tool for activism and social change. As such, she has facilitated workshops for community groups in Leeds, The Gambia and Ireland and collaborates with the Eden Project and other community organisations to support local people wanting to turn ideas into action through a human-centred design approach.

Research Interests

Currently Anne continues her research in The Gambia and is developing a Routledge book publication titled ‘A human-centred approach for sustainable energy transitions: lessons learned from a Gambian community.’ She was awarded funding through the BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants for her forthcoming project ‘Co-designing Kartong energy futures’, which will feature in the book. Previously, she collaborated with NUI Galway exploring the lived experience of past energy transitions funded through the Shape Energy Research Design Challenge.

Anne is also developing a human-centred approach to water systems. She previously conducted fieldwork on peripheral river islands in Brazil as part of AguaSocial, a European funded project looking at social innovation in the water treatment sector of the Amazon region. She was recently awarded GCRF funding through the Leeds Beckett ‘Building International Collaboration Prize.’ This provided a first step in exploring the possibility of thematically integrating research on the lived experience of energy transitions with everyday practices surrounding water, as well as geographically expanding long-established research in The Gambia to Ghana.

Selected Publications

Journal articles (1)

Conference contributions (1)

  • Schiffer A (2017) Issues of power and positionality in participatory design Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth, Wales 20170608. : .

Reports (2)

  • Greene M; Schiffer A (2018) Learning from past and current energy transitions to build sustainable and resilient energy futures: Lessons from Ireland and The Gambia. . .
    View Repository Record
  • Schiffer A (2017) Shared Ownership in Scotland: opening up citizen participation in renewable energy. . Edinburgh: Friends of the Earth Scotland.
    View Repository Record
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