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Join the Future Observatory Research Steering Group



Future Observatory is looking for senior researchers, academics and design professionals to join our Research Steering Group.

Working closely with the Future Observatory Director and Research Manager, at least four members will primarily advise on and contribute to the overall academic quality of a £21m portfolio of AHRC-funded research within the Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition programme including, but not limited to, Green Transition Ecosystems, Design Exchange Partnerships and Design Accelerators.

Please read our summary information about these programmes here.

Members will support these funding strands by sharing relevant research and signposting gaps in evidence bases, advising on theoretical and empirical approaches, and contributing to peer review and discussion forums with Principal Investigators and their research/consortium teams.

The position is a fixed term contract, members will be appointed from December 2022 and serve until 6 April 2025.

Start date January 2023, with a commitment to attend our Green Transition Ecosystem townhall on Tuesday 31 January at the Design Museum.

Applicants should note that Research Steering Group members may not apply for, nor form any part of a consortium application for, Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition funding, including AHRC Green Transition Ecosystem grants.

Deadline for applications: 9am, 16 December 2022

Fees and commitment

Research Steering Group members will be remunerated £250 per day (£125 per half day).

Research Steering Group members will need to dedicate at least ten days (and a maximum of 15 days) per year to the project. Payments will be settled quarterly. UK travel expenses will be reimbursed, exclusive to daily fee.


Research Steering Group members will:

  • Advise and contribute to the Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition funding portfolio

  • Meet with and report to the Future Observatory Director and Research Manager on a quarterly basis to advise on research progress and academic partner activity

  • Mentor and regularly meet with research groups (such as Green Transition Ecosystem Directors, Principle Investigators and consortium partners) on a quarterly basis

  • Contribute to FO and AHRC reporting and evaluation

  • Research Steering Members may sit on jury/application assessment panels as part of AHRC’s peer review process.

The above list is not exhaustive, and applicants for the Research Steering Group are encouraged to present their approach to the successful support of this new research portfolio and its continuation strategy.

Personal specification

Research Steering Group members must:

  • Hold a current professorial or research director position at a UK Higher Education Institution or Independent Research Organisation;

  • Hold a post doctoral degree (or equivalent) in design, design research or sustainable practices;

  • Familiarity with UK Research and Innovation and the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s mission and strategy and it’s broader funding and policy landscape;

  • Experience of handling AHRC/UKRI funding and oversight of evaluation and impact;

  • Applicants must be based in the UK, or spend an overall majority of their professional time in the UK, and be available to attend at least four in-person events per year.

Future Observatory welcomes applications from candidates of any race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or belief, from people with disabilities and from those who live or work in any part of the UK.

To apply

Please complete an application form and submit to Justin McGuirk, Director of Future Observatory, at


About Future Observatory:

Future Observatory is a new national programme for design research supporting the UK’s response to the climate crisis. The programme is coordinated by and based at the Design Museum in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Future Observatory aims to accelerate how we find solutions to the most pressing issues. It brings design researchers together with the networks that can help them have an impact on achieving the UK’s environmental goals.

The £25m Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition programme will run over the next three years and is funded by AHRC. The programme will be delivered in partnership with the Design Museum and will ensure a sustainable and inclusive response to the climate crisis. The investment will directly fund and benefit over 100 higher education institutions and 75 industry and local authority partners across the nation. It is the largest publicly funded design research and innovation (R&I) programme in the UK.

About the Arts and Humanities Research Council:

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, funds internationally outstanding independent researchers across the whole range of the arts and humanities: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages and literature, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. The quality and range of research supported by AHRC works for the good of UK society and culture and contributes both to UK economic success and to the culture and welfare of societies across the globe.

About the Design Museum:

The Design Museum is the world’s leading museum devoted to contemporary architecture and design. Its work encompasses all elements of design, including fashion, product and graphic design. Since it opened its doors in 1989 the museum has displayed everything from an AK-47 to high heels designed by Christian Louboutin. It has staged over 100 exhibitions, welcomed over seven million visitors and showcased the work of some of the world’s most celebrated designers and architects including Paul Smith, Zaha Hadid, Jonathan Ive, Frank Gehry, Eileen Gray and Dieter Rams.