PhD Programme

Eco-Social Innovation
by Design

The Lucerne School of Art and Design (HSLU), Switzerland, and the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, India, are collaborating in an international PhD programme to explore the diverse landscape of eco-social innovation by design.


The global goals for sustainable transitions require new design strategies, new forms of cooperation and unexpected alliances. Contributions from the design disciplines towards sustainable development often aim at the use of less harmful materials, the adaptation of more efficient processes, improvements of construction principles or the alignment of individual behaviour. However, designers also contribute to sustainable development by shaping the framework conditions of innovative social practices, mediating and navigating between academic disciplines, professional methods and cultural conventions at the four orders of design: from graphics and products to interactions and systems. The results of these interventions might be goods and services, educational experiences, grassroots innovations or co-created visions for desirable futures.


The programme is open to educators, professionals and researchers in design and allied fields who seek to reinvent their own base of knowledge and practice – while pushing the boundaries of the design disciplines by creating new ‘grounded’ theories. It encourages research scholars to be ‘learning by doing’ and to be ‘learning from the field’ and prepares them for responsible positions in education, private or public sector organizations, or for eco-social entrepreneurship. PhD research scholars benefit from the diversity of perspectives, the inter-regional exchange of academic practices and problem-solving strategies, the plurality of innovation cultures and the opportunities to study and conduct practice-based research within an intercultural environment in Switzerland and India. Furthermore, they have access to a diverse range of transdisciplinary courses and opportunities for academic collaboration and knowledge exchange.

Research Areas

Areas of research may include (but are not limited to):

Design for participation and co-creation
  • Design for science communication
  • Design of future scenarios
  • Design of services and interactions
  • Design of products, processes, and systems
  • Accompanying studies on new narratives and current discourses


Mentoring and supervision is provided by guides from NID and co-guides from HSLU faculty as part of the cooperation programme. The PhD certificate will be issued by NID.

How to apply

The programme starts each September. The next call will be published in early spring 2023.


For further inquiries please visit the programme website or contact the programme management via