Dr Anne Schiffer, Reader

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 a member of the African Studies Association.

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.

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 and India.

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 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)
Dr Anne Schiffer, Reader

Ask Me About

  1. Design
  2. Energy & Sustainability

Selected Outputs

  • Schiffer A (2021) An Introduction to Sustainable Design: A Human-centred Perspective.

  • Greene M; Schiffer A (2021) “Women don’t ride bicycle[s], only men ride bicycles” - Gender and justice in mobility transitions. In: Kumar A; Höffken J; Pols A ed. Dilemmas of Energy Transitions in the Global South Balancing Urgency and Justice. Routledge,

  • Schiffer A; Clavin A (2020) Urban prototyping with communities.

  • Schiffer A (2020) Reframing Energy Access: Insights from the Gambia. Routledge.

  • 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.

    View Repository Record

  • Wu B; Schiffer A; Burns B (2016) Power for the People: delivering decentralized, community-controlled renewable energy access.

    View Repository Record

  • Schiffer A (2014) Community Power Scotland: From Remote Island Grids to Urban Solar Co-operatives.

    View Repository Record

  • Schiffer A (2016) Designers In International Development: a reflection on designing Gambian energy futures. [PhD Thesis]. Queen's University Belfast.

  • Schiffer A (2015) I put my money where my mouth is and invested in community energy.

  • Schiffer A; Greene M (2021) ‘“Women don’t ride bicycle[s], only men ride bicycles”- gender and justice in mobility transitions (Session: Dominated, ignored and belittled? Women’s voices in the energy transition). In: 5th Energy and Society Conference, 10 February 2021 - 12 February 2021, Trento, Italy.

  • Schiffer A (2019) Energy Communities in Scotland: Support Mechanisms and Ownership Models. In: Community Energy Public Forum, 14 November 2019.

  • Schiffer A (2019) Using human insight to design energy futures: reflections on working in The Gambia. In: Why The World Needs Anthropologists conference, 26 October 2018 - 27 October 2018, Lisbon, Portugal.

  • Schiffer A (2019) Co-designing energy futures: a reflection on engaging women and young people in The Gambia (Session: Methods for engaging communities on creating sustainable futures). In: Dr Anne Schiffer, 28 August 2019 - 30 August 2019.

  • Schiffer A (2019) Design thinking as a tool for participatory action and community development?. In: EUGEO Congress in conjunction with 51st Conference of Irish Geographers, 15 May 2019 - 18 May 2019, Galway, Ireland.

  • Schiffer A (2019) Integrating energy and water scarcity through human-centred design (Session: Methodological innovations in sustainability research: Tackling complex socio-environmental challenges through geographical research approaches). In: EUGEO Congress in conjunction with 51st Conference of Irish Geographers, 15 May 2019 - 18 May 2019, Galway, Ireland.

  • Schiffer A; Greene M (2018) Past, Present and Future: Developing a long-term perspective of changing energy cultures in The Gambia. In: 50th Conference of Irish Geographers, 10 May 2018 - 12 May 2018, Maynooth, Ireland.

  • Schiffer A (2017) The need for people’s participation in renewable energy transitions: learning from the European fight for community ownership. In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017, 29 August 2017 - 1 September 2017, London.

  • Schiffer A (2017) Solidarity or selfishness? A critique of decentralised ownership in Europe. In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017, 29 August 2017 - 1 September 2017, London.

  • Schiffer A (2017) Missing out on energy citizenship: pitfalls of delivering first-time access to modern energy services. In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017, 29 August 2017 - 1 September 2017, London.

  • Schiffer A (2017) Enough Is Enough: energy sufficiency in the context of climate change and global access inequality. In: 2nd International Conference on Energy, Environment and Climate Change (ICEECC 2017), 5 July 2017 - 7 July 2017, Pointe aux Piments, Mauritius.

  • Schiffer A (2017) Issues of power and positionality in participatory design. In: Small Is Beautiful Festival 2017: Housing Justice - Panel ECOLOGICAL DESIGN : A TRANSFORMATIVE APPROACH TO HOUSING, 8 June 2017 - 10 June 2017, Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth, Wales.

  • Schiffer A (2015) Community Power: transforming the energy system through community ownership. In: Community Energy And Local Governments: Capacity building on financial models - zooming in on ESCOs, 9 September 2015, London.

  • Schiffer A (2015) Designing energy futures: a case study from The Gambia. In: International Conference on Changing Cities II: spatial, design, landscape and socio-economic dimensions, 22 June 2015 - 26 June 2015, Porto Heli, Peloponnese, Greece.

  • Schiffer A (2014) Energy Service Provision: issues of equality and resource dependency. In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014, 26 August 2014 - 29 August 2014, London.

  • Schiffer A (2014) Visualizing energy economies in rural Gambia. In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014, 26 August 2014 - 29 August 2014, London.

  • Schiffer A (2013) Making Sense Of Complex And Fluid Positionalities. In: Gaborone International Design Conference: Design Future: Creativity, Innovation and Development, 24 September 2013 - 26 September 2013, Gaberone, Botswana.

  • Schiffer A (2013) Designing in Rural Gambia: the need for reflexive knowledge in design practice. In: Knowing (by) Designing, 22 May 2013 - 23 May 2013, Brussels.