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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, including in the areas of sustainable energy transitions, energy and water access. She is the author of Reframing Energy Access: Insights from The Gambia.

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 that critiques the role of designers in international development

Prior to joining Leeds Beckett University, Dr Schiffer 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 is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and until recently served as Senior Independent Director on the board of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Current Teaching

Dr Schiffer supervises a number of PhD students and is a year and module leader on the BA Product Design course where she teaches across all levels. 

She has a passion for design thinking as a tool for social change. She has facilitated workshops for community groups in Ireland, the UK and Thailand, supporting local people who want to turn ideas into action through a human-centred design approach.

Research Interests

Dr Schiffer’s research explores how human-centred design processes can create socially just futures in the context of energy and water access challenges. Geographically her research is located in West Africa, India and Brazil.

Current research projects include:

  • Innovate UK funded research on water scarcity in the West Bengal region of India. This is a collaborative project led by Environmental Monitoring Solutions (https://www.em-solutions.co.uk/innovation/mantis/) that integrates qualitative human-centred and technical insights in order to adapt ‘Monitoring and ANalytics To Improve Service’ (MANTIS) technology into the rural Indian context.
  • Research on energy and water scarcity in the rural Ashanti region of Ghana. This research uses ethnographic methods to gain greater insight into the lived experience of water and energy practices and their implication for a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDG6 Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG7 Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 5 Gender Equality. The research is funded through the Leeds Beckett Building International Collaborations (BIC) Prize and BIC Follow on Funding. 
  • Research on ‘gender equity and energy access in the Global South’, funded by an Anglia Ruskin University Global Challenges Research Challenges Fund (GCRF) award. This is an international collaboration that brings together a range of academic and non-academic partners based in Ghana, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, the Netherlands and the UK. The project investigates the how ‘access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy’ (SDG7) is constructed by professional actors and with what implications for gender equality (SDG5).

Selected Publications

Journal articles (5)

Books (1)

Briefings (1)

Conference contributions (1)

  • Schiffer A (2017) Issues of power and positionality in participatory design Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth, Wales 08/06/2017.

Reports (3)

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