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Craft in Makerspaces – the potential for social change for sustainability

Crafts CouncilTECHNE AHRC PhD studentship in collaboration with The Crafts Council and Kingston School of Art, Kingston University London.

Kingston School of Art and The Crafts Council welcome applications for an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership studentship: Craft in Makerspaces - the potential for social change for sustainability. This is offered under the TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership Scheme, to begin in October 2019. 

Deadline for Expressions of Interest: Monday 3 December 2018: 5.00pm (GMT)

Interviews: Week beginning the 10 December 2018

Project supervisors:

Dr Paul Micklethwaite and Professor Daniel Charny, in collaboration with Alma Daskalaki and Julia Bennett, of The Crafts Council.

Project Vision

This project focuses on the potential role of craft in makerspaces, and the extent to which it can be a driver for social change directed towards sustainability goals. It considers craft as a particular mode of making, in a particular type of context, and its potential relation to social innovation and sustainability. The project develops prior work into the cultural role of makerspaces, which examined what makerspaces are for, and the roles of craft in makerspaces, which identified a useful typology via a mapping of makerspaces. An explicit consideration of sustainability in relation to craft in makerspaces is both vital and innovative and will constitute the significant new knowledge produced by this project. The working premise of the project is that environmental sustainability is best addressed via social change. This informs the research question: What is the role of craft in makerspaces, and what influence does/can it have on a makerspace mission for ecological sustainability via social change?

The project will commence with an audit of existing makerspaces' current focus on craft, social change and sustainability. This will provide a platform for work with/in makerspace(s) to develop, implement and evaluate programme/s for craft-led pro-sustainability change. The project is therefore practice-based / -led, involving action research and the generation of design interventions and design outputs.

It is envisaged to use of a wide range of research methods. The audit phase is likely to involve: literature review and social research (Objectives 1 - 2); site visits (incorporating ethnographies, interviews etc.) (Objectives 3 - 4); focus groups / workshops to explore models of practice within makerspaces (Objective 5). The action research phase is likely to involve: development and design of activities and materials for use in selected makerspace/s; delivery of a programme of intervention; evaluation of that programme (Objective 6). The final phase (Objective 7) is likely to involve refinement and redesign of materials and programme developed in Objective 6.


1. Define craft characteristics (what is craft?).

2. Define makerspaces (what is a makerspace?).

3. Investigate evidence and use of craft tools, skills, attitudes in makerspaces.

4. Investigate makerspaces with an ecological and/or social mission (those spaces for whom sustainability and/or community are a priority).

5. Investigate the relation between 3 and 4.

6. Develop, implement and evaluate programme/s for craft-led pro-sustainability change in selected makerspace/s.

7. Develop a model for the role of craft in driving sustainability (social / ecological) via makerspaces.

Anticipated outputs:

  • A model for the role of craft in driving sustainability (social / ecological) via makerspaces, expressed as an accessible and open source roadmap / toolkit (the practice output).
  • A written thesis accompanying the practice output.
  • Communication tools (diagrams, case studies, presentations, workshops) that make the research findings accessible to Crafts Council and makerspace audiences, to be delivered throughout the project.
  • Roundtable type event(s) that will inform development of the model.

For informal enquires about the project contact Dr Paul Micklethwaite, Director of Research, The Design School:

Award Details

Subject to AHRC eligibility criteria, the studentship covers tuition fees and a grant (stipend) towards living expenses. AHRC studentship rates for 2019-20 are yet to be announced - the doctoral stipend for 2018-19 was £16,777 (three years full-time or part-time equivalent for six years); levels are likely to rise slightly for 2019-20. Collaborative Doctoral Students also receive an additional stipend of £550. Students can apply for an additional six months stipend to engage in extended development activities such as work placements. See AHRC funding and training for full details.

As a TECHNE student, the selected applicant will have full access to the TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership development activities and networking opportunities, joining a cohort of almost 60 students per year from across ten universities in London and the south-east.

Student Eligibility

Applicants will have:

  • a Master's degree in a craft or design subject, with a social and/or sustainability focus;
  • Direct experience with makerspaces, ideally including contacts useful for the project;
  • Business / enterprise experience in a creative sector - ambition to establish a career as a creative and put to use of the employability opportunities the placement will allow; and
  • Skills in communication and advocacy for creative practice and creative sectors.

Applicants must satisfy AHRC eligibility requirements and terms and conditions: International (overseas) students are not eligible to apply for AHRC studentships and EU students may be eligible for fees and maintenance, or fees only.

The proposed studentship (subject to selection by the TECHNE Panel in spring 2019) will fund a full-time PhD studentship for three years or part time study for up to six years (50% FTE and above).

Application Process

Please send your expression of interest for this project by email to:

Emily Bowles:

Please title your email 'CDA' and give the relevant partner institute's name.

Applications should comprise of the following:

  • 1-2 page statement outlining your interest in this research project
  • A copy of your first degree and postgraduate qualifications
  • A current CV (no more than 2 pages)
  • A sample of your academic work

Applications must be received by Kingston University no later than Monday 3 December 2018: 5.00pm (GMT)

Interviews for shortlisted candidates will be in the week beginning the 10 December 2018.

The selected candidate will then be supported by supervisors and partners to complete a TECHNE application for final submission to TECHNE by Thursday 21 February 2019.

Results of this second stage competition will be known by April 2019


Please contact us for more research funding information.

Kingston School of Art
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