PhD Project: Modelling Innovation at Water Energy Clothing Nexus

Water energy clothing

Supervisor: Dr Liz Varga

Nascent threats to water, energy, clothing* (WEC) systems are increasingly coming to the fore through competition for land use, production and distribution systems with high levels of emissions, increasing inequality, more frequent extreme weather events and interconnections with food systems. This is placing pressure on the resilience of the global economy, environment and society, exacerbated by the increased rate of discarding clothing, new technologies such as 3D printing, and a greater quantity and variety of waste. Policy makers have also to consider targets to cut carbon emissions and climate change impacts particularly from increasingly imported goods, elevating uncertainties about nexus outcomes.

This research will take a trans-disciplinary approach focusing on the interconnections between disciplines, examining trade-offs and related economic, environmental and societal outcomes. Case study data will be collected to provide examples of low impact WEC systems operating at different scales from micro to macro. There will be several explanations for their success and also innovation potential in other locations or at other scales. The research problem to which this doctoral work will contribute is that of how to step up innovation and demonstrate how the threats to WEC resilience can be alleviated.

There are various opportunities for examining this field of study:

  1. Creating alternative representations of the intersections of WEC systems thus contributing to the definition of WEC Nexus, the understanding of this phenomena and the identification of constructs to explain the condition and its desirability.
  2. Designing a database of WEC global systems which will represent the dynamics of WEC systems, federating data from multiple sources, and identifying patterns in big data, to provide insight into changing patterns of WEC threats.
  3. Co-creating business models with practitioners and academics for stepping up innovation, for example, by diffusion elsewhere at the same scale, larger scale or smaller scale or by growth in the same location, all of these with or without adaptation(s).
  4. Modeling abstracts, rules and algorithms (i.e. business models) demonstrating the potential for stepping up innovation, highlighting new opportunities and barriers to WEC resilience, such as improving unemployment, or increasing poverty.
  5. Simulating the role of alternative international policy decisions to determine the potential for alleviating threats , identifying feedbacks, rebound effects and other influencers to systemic survival.
  6. Examining the transition in various future scenarios, such as population growth, urbanization, rising energy costs, disease affecting raw materials, disrupted supply chains (e.g. climate events, terrorism) and identifying the future scenarios which bring on instabilities most quickly.

These doctoral studies will be related to EPSRC funded project Stepping Up (EP/N00583X/1) providing access to a team of investigators and researchers, and the wider community of projects interested in the WEF Nexus including More broadly this work connects to the supervisor’s global research and projects in complex infrastructure systems, which are large socio-technical systems integrated with the environment and infrastructure (energy, transport, water, waste and telecommunications).

*Clothing is intended to cover the broader area of Textiles, Clothing, Footwear and Leather.

Candidate requirements:

  • Masters in a scientific, mathematical, engineering, urban geography, textiles science or environmental discipline.
  • Motivation to improve societal resilience through reduced emissions or resource consumption whilst recognizing the need for economic viability using novel business models and the need for decision-making for sustainability.
  • Excellent numeracy skills and ability to represent socio-technical systems in models, e.g. using Matlab.
  • Excellent critical thinking and explanatory skills with a desire to work across disciplines, using multiple methods and synthesizing large data sets.
  • Candidates should satisfy Cranfield School of Management admission criteria. Please see Admission Requirements for English language requirements.

Expressions of interest alongside a CV are invited via email to in the first instance. 



Posted on July 23, 2015, in Innovation and Operations Management, Strategy Complexity and Change Management, Supply Chain and Logistics Management and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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