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Current Postgraduate Research Students

Michael Stead supervises 4 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Dr Michael Stead

Lecturer in Sustainable Design Futures, School of Design Admissions Tutor

Michael Stead

Research overview

The decarbonisation of global economies is imperative for the long-term sustainability of the planet. From energy production through manufacturing to within the home, emerging so-called ‘smart’ data-driven technologies like the Internet of Things, Edge ComputingDigital Fabrication and Artificial Intelligence are increasingly being embraced throughout society, yet the wider environmental impacts of this rapid shift are little understood. 

Michael's current research applies and advances approaches including Research through Design and Speculative Design to prototype and evaluate radical new visions for low carbon futures which critically and creatively interrogate the evolving relationship between emerging data-driven technologies and key sustainability challenges such as Net Zero 2050 and the Circular Economy.  

In doing so, his work aims to develop innovative design approaches and tools in collaboration with industry, policymakers and publics which raise awareness and support the adoption of sustainable and equitable data-driven technologies and related practices. 

With emphasis on the responsible decentralisation and democratisation of technologies, his research investigates cross-cutting themes including Right-to-Repair, Data Sustainability, Distributed Manufacturing and Post-scarcity Economies.

Michael is Lecturer in Sustainable Design Futures at Imagination, Lancaster University's open and exploratory design research lab. He leads the Imagination Sustainability Special Interest Group with Sejal Changede and is departmental representative on the university wide Sustainability Knowledge Exchange group. He is the School of Design's Admissions Tutor.

PhD supervision

Michael welcomes enquiries from potential students interested in researching new ways for designing and adopting more sustainable technologies, practices and infrastructures across society. This work will contribute to our better understanding of the deepening relationship between sustainability issues (environmental governance, social equity and economic resilience) and emergent technologies (like the Internet of Things, Edge Computing, Digital Fabrication and Artificial Intelligence) and how this relationship is impacting climate change now and into the future. Such research could draw upon and advance research fields including Design for Sustainability, Sustainable Human-Computer Interaction, More Than Human-Centred Design, Designing for Transitions, Cradle to Cradle theory and Biodesign.

Research Grants

Michael has been collaborating with partners on the following funded projects: 


EPSRC Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Hub funded InterNET ZERO: Towards Resource Responsible Trustworthy Autonomous Systems - in collaboration with Nottingham (computing) and Bristol (science & technology studies) colleagues and partners Energy Systems Catapult, The Making Rooms and Subak, this project focusses on co-designing visions and pathways for future, more resource responsible and trustworthy autonomous Internet technologies built on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.


EPSRC Equitable Digital Society funded Fixing the Future: The Right-to-Repair and Equal-IoT project combines research expertise from design (Imagination), HCI (Nottingham), technology law and ethics (Edinburgh) and the digital humanities (Napier) in collaboration with partners The Making Rooms, BBC Research & Development, Which? and NCC to investigate how we can collectively design, build and sustain more repairable and equitable electronic IoT devices as part of growing circular, digital economies across society.


IAA ESRC EPSRC funded The Repair Shop 2049 project has explored, in collaboration with The Making Rooms the Right-to-Repair for electronic IoT devices and the design of pathways for developing local repair infrastructures and circular economies.


EPSRC PETRAS funded Edge of Reality project, with partners BBC Research & Development has investigated the sustainability and cyber-security of data generated by our interactions with Edge-IoT technologies. This builds on the previously EPSRC PETRAS funded Edge of Tomorrow project.

External Roles

Review Board Member - Association for Computing Machinery’s Journal on Computing and Sustainable Societies (ACM JCSS)

Current Teaching

UG LICA240: Design Interactions 

UG LICA241: Design Visualisations 

UG Supervisor – LICA300: Design

PGT Supervisor – LICA426: Design Management

Career Details

Prior to his lectureship, Michael was a Post-Doctoral Research Associate on the Research England funded Beyond Imagination project. Alongside his doctoral research, Michael worked as a Research Associate on two EPSRC funded research projects – PETRAS Internet of Things hub and Liveable Cities – and then as Design Visualiser on the AHRC funded research projects Living Design and Design Ecologies. Before completing his PhD and Masters at Lancaster, he gained practical, commercial design expertise working as an industrial product designer.



AdvanceHE Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP)

PhD in Digital Innovation (Design), HighWire Digital Economy Centre for Doctoral Training, Lancaster University. 

Master’s in Research (Digital Innovation), HighWire Digital Economy Centre for Doctoral Training, Lancaster University. Distinction.

Master’s in Product Design (New Product Development), University of Salford. Distinction.

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