Prof. Rachel Cooper

Design Management, Design Policy, Design Thinking, Urban Design, Urban Sustainability, Socially Responsible Design, Design Against Crime, Design & Manufacture
r [dot] cooper [at] lancaster [dot] ac [dot] uk

Rachel Cooper OBE is Distinguished Professor of Design Management and Policy at Lancaster University. She is a Director of ImaginationLancaster, an open and exploratory design-led research centre conducting applied and theoretical research into people, products, places and their interactions, and also Chair of Lancaster institute for the Contemporary Arts. Professor Cooper’s research interests cover: design thinking; design management; design policy; and across all sectors of industry, a specific interest in design for wellbeing and socially responsible design. She has published extensively on these topics, including books 'Designing Sustainable Cities' and 'The Handbook of Wellbeing and the Environment'. She is also series editor of the Routledge series Design for Social Responsibility covering topics such as designing for sustainability, inclusivity, service design, sport, health, transport and policy. She was founding editor of The Design Journal and also founding President of the European Academy of Design. 

 She is currently working on Liveable Cities, a £5m funded six-year research programme working to identify design and engineering solutions that will lead to low-carbon, resource-secure, future cities in which societal wellbeing is prioritised. Also ‘The Creative Exchange’, a £3m three year programme  looking at the growth of the creative industries through exploring the ‘digital public space' and a new types of PhD’s programme.  She has also just begun work on the recently announced 'Internet of Things' (IoT) Hub Lancaster University lead in a UCL led consortium that has received £9.8 million support from EPSRC as part of a £40 million investment programme from UK Government. She is Academic Lead for the N8 universities (the eight most research intensive Universities in the North of England: Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.) on Urban Living Research.

 Professor Cooper has undertaken several advisory roles to national and international universities, government and non-governmental organisations. She was a member of Infrastructure and Environment Strategic Advisory Team of the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) until 2005. She has also chaired EPSRC commissioning panels on Crime and the cross council review of UK National Collaboration on Ageing Research programme and she was mentor on EPSRC Sandpits on Mobile Health and Countering Terrorism in 2006/7. She is currently a member of EPSRC Strategic Advisory Network. Professor Cooper was UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) panel convenor for visual arts and media practice, history, theory Postgraduate awards between 2000 & 2005, and sat on the Council of the AHRC (2000/10). She was also a member of the advisory panel on the AHRC/ESRC's Cultures of Consumption programme and chairs the advisory panel for the AHRC/EPSRC's 'Designing for the 21st Century' initiative. She was a member of the UK Research Assessment Exercise Panel for Art and Design in 2008 and 2014 chaired the research review panel for art, design architecture and media for Aalto University, (2009) and is currently chair of Aalto  School of Arts  Strategic Advisory Board and was a member of the Research Assessment exercise for Gothenburg University 2010. In 2011 she was invited to be a member of the European Design Innovation Initiative Leadership Board that produced recommendations on Design for Prosperity and Growth for the EU. She was amember of the Blackett Review of the Internet of Things 2014.

 She is a also Non executive Director of the Future Cities Catapult, a visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art (RCA)and a member of RCA Council. Professor Cooper was a Lead Expert for the UK Government Foresight programme on the Future of Cities, is on the Academy of Medical Sciences Working group addressing ‘The Health of the Public 2040’ and is a member of the Partnership for Prevention Sciences Steering Group. She is the Royal Society representative member of the Scientific Committee for Health and Wellbeing in the Changing Urban Environment – an International Council for Science Programme co-sponsored with the United Nations University (UNU) and the InterAcademy Medical Panel (IAMP).




Updates and Outcomes

GP Commissioning and Design

Enhancing Creativity and Collaboration a workshop at the Design Council, London

  ‘GP Commissioning and Design’ is an event that brings together Service Designers   and GPs to exchange views and practices related to the newly developed programme   of GP Commissioning. The event...Read full update

UK Future Infrastructure Workshop

Event8 years, 10 months and 8 days ago
UK Future Infrastructure Workshop

11th of January 2011, BIS, London

Text here...Read full update

Creating Sustainable Frameworks for Service Redesign at Practice Level in the NHS


The National Health Service (NHS) in England is pursuing a programme of transformation through innovation, aiming to ‘provide High Quality Care for All in an NHS fit for 21st century and beyond’. Practice Based Commissioning (PBC) is one key strategy, devolving responsibility for commissioning of...More information

Clinicians as service designers? Reflections on current transformation in the UK health services

OutcomeConference Paper

The British National Health Service (NHS) has been involved in profound transformation tokeep pace with, and shape, changes in our society. Innovation has been driven by thenecessity to transform old hierarchical and paternalistic models into a modern health system,moving care closer to home,...More information

Foresight report on Mental Capital and Mental Wellbeing is out!

Event10 years, 10 months and 13 days ago

5th of January 2009, London, England

UK Government report outlines how to achieve the best possible mental development and mental wellbeing for everyone

The UK Government Office for Science (now the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills) launched their latest...Read full update

Imagination secures £13.2 million investment to expand our research activities.

Imagination secures £13.2 million investment to expand our research activities.

Beyond Imagination, a radical £13.2 million research project, will explore and demonstrate how cutting-edge design research can create a healthier, more prosperous and sustainable world.

Lead by Professor Leon Cruickshank, the bold and engaging Beyond Imagination project will put design...Read full update

ImaginationLancaster presents innovative international urban health research at

ImaginationLancaster presents innovative international urban health research at

the International Symposium on Urban Health and Wellbeing in the Asia-Pacific Region!

Improving health and well-being for cities, requires addressing the demographic shift related to an ageing population, the epidemiologic shift from infectious to noncommunicable diseases, and climate change,...Read full update

Imagination at Design Research Society Conference 2018

Imagination at Design Research Society Conference 2018

Imagination delegation discuss key challenges facing contemporary design theory and praxis

The Design Research Society Conference 2018 (DRS) was held at the University of Limerick, Ireland from 25th-28th June. At the conference, Director of ImaginationLancaster and DRS President,...Read full update

Design Fiction and the Internet of Things

Our research using Design Fiction to consider futures for the Internet of Things is featured by IOTUK

The Internet of Things is beginning to make changes in all sectors, in all parts of the UK and across the world. From applications on the factory floor, in shops, in the doctor’s surgery and...Read full update

House of Commons meeting on the Internet of Things and the Evolution of Smart Technologies

House of Commons meeting on the Internet of Things and the Evolution of Smart Technologies

Pete Rai, Cisco, Mark Prisk MP and Rachel Cooper OBE, meet to explore the potential of connectivity posed by the continued growth of the Internet of Things (IOT)

The Internet of Things and the Evolution of Smart Technologies ...Read full update

Design Value

Design Value

Final report from the AHRC study on the Value of Design in Innovation

Design Value: The Role of Design in Innovation was an eighteen-month AHRC funded research project carried out in collaboration with Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network Special Interest Group on Design. The...Read full update

Little Book of Design Fiction for the Internet of Things

Articleby Paul Coulton, Joe Lindley, Rachel Cooper
Little Book of Design Fiction for the Internet of Things

As output of our work relating to Adoption and Acceptability and the House Training the Internet of Things for the PETRAS Cybersecurity for the Internet of Things Research Hub we have created a guide for designers and developers of IoT products and services who may wish to use Design Fiction as part of their design processs. In this little book we explain: ...Read full article

Fully funded PhD in Data Prototyping & Urban Futures: apply now!

Articleby Nick Dunn, Rachel Cooper
Fully funded PhD in Data Prototyping & Urban Futures: apply now!

Applications are invited for a full time, fully funded PhD studentship as part of our ongoing research into Urban Futures. ImaginationLancaster has an extensive portfolio and strong track record of major research into cities, working directly with policy makers and city stakeholders via UK Government Office for Science and the Future Cities Catapult. ...Read full article

Do sustainability measures constrain urban design creativity?

Articleby Christopher Boyko, Rachel Cooper
Do sustainability measures constrain urban design creativity?

Paper available at ICE Virtual Library. ...Read full article

Future Infrastructure UK: Engineering Roadmap Final Report

Articleby Rachel Cooper, Roger Whitham, Leon Cruickshank

This report describes the results of a workshop undertaken as part of a programme of advice commissioned by Infrastructure UK to consider the interdependencies and future engineering challenges as part of an ‘engineering roadmap’ for the next National Infrastructure Plan (due to be published in autumn 2011). This plan will include specific actions needed to achieve an integrated, reliable, secure and resilient national infrastructure. ...Read full article

Creative Exchange Launch Event

Articleby Rachel Cooper
Creative Exchange Launch Event

On 19th May we  launched the Creative Exchange. It was an afternoon and an evening of speakers and discussion at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, in conjunction with  FutureEverything Festival.  We had a fascinating and diverse array of speakers. ...Read full article

You can find a list of Rachel Cooper's publications on the Lancaster University research pages.

Key Projects

Urban FuturesUrban Futures Urban Futures Sustainable Regeneration - from evidence-based urban futures to implementation
Design2020Design2020 Design2020 The UK design industry in 2020
HighWireHighWire HighWire Creating Innovative People for Radical Change
Design for WellbeingDesign for Wellbeing Design for Wellbeing How Design Can Contribute to More Liveable Cities
Creative IDEASCreative IDEAS Creative IDEAS Innovative Mechanisms for Knowledge Sharing
Design In PracticeDesign In Practice Design In Practice Flexibility and change for healthcare service providers