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).