Contact Dr Fiona Charnley

Areas of expertise


Dr Fiona Charnley joined Cranfield University as a Lecturer in Sustainable Product and Service Design in 2011 after working as a research fellow at De Montfort University where she managed an EPSRC funded project to engage school communities in sustainable design principles. This role involved working with multiple stakeholders from primary and secondary school pupils, teachers and governors through to designers and architects on the UK Government’s Building Schools for the Future initiative.


Dr Charnley completed her PhD at Cranfield University in 2008 which focused on the factors that enable and inhibit the process of whole system design for the development of more innovative and sustainable products, services and systems. Working with a consortium of companies she conducted a longitudinal case study following the system level design of the Morgan Lifecar. Fiona has an MSc by research from Cranfield University in which she investigated the cognitive problem solving abilities of design engineers and a BA (Hons) in Industrial Design and Technology from Loughborough University. 


Dr Charnley aspires to position Cranfield University as an internationally leading centre for the Circular Economy. This is being achieved by establishing a portfolio of multi-disciplinary research projects demonstrating the implementation of circular design, manufacture and technology across industrial sectors. Additionally Fiona is pioneering the development of skills and capabilities necessary for circular production within leaders of the future through the development of new educational courses. 

Current activities

Dr Charnley leads a number of research grants investigating new industrial systems for more sustainable and circular models of production and consumption. Grants that Fiona is currently working on include:


·       The RECODE Network: Consumer Goods, Big Data and Re-Distributed Manufacturing [EP/M017567/1] consisting of five universities and over 15 industry partners, investigating the role of big data in re-distributed manufacturing. See:

·       Circular 4.0: Digital Technologies to Enable a Circular Economy [EPSRC Network Plus Feasibility Study] an investigation into how data, acquired through the latest advances in digital technologies can shape decisions about the design, manufacture and utilisation of consumer products to accelerate the implementation of more circular approaches in manufacturing.

·       Energy Resilient Manufacturing II: Small is Beautiful [EPSRC EP/P012272/1] this project aims to develop a novel methodology and modelling toolkit, to enable energy resilient manufacture with the production of castings at maximum yield rates with minimal energy and material usage.


Dr Charnley leads a pan-university community of practice at Cranfield to develop research and teaching programmes to support the transition towards a Circular Economy. She collaborates with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to deliver the Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship to 19 international universities. 


Fiona is the Design Programme Director within the Centre for Creative Competitive Design and oversees the delivery of three Mdes courses that address a wide spectrum of approaches and practical application of creativity and innovation for design. As well as teaching across these courses she has also developed the world's first executive masters course in the field of a Circular Economy 'Technology Innovation and Management for a Circular Economy'. This online course will provide professionals, from across industrial sectors, with technological knowledge, system-level understanding and personal competency to design, evaluate and manage the implementation of transformational solutions for the future.


Fiona collaborates with a range of partners across industrial sectors including: 

BAE Systems, Chanel, Cisco, Coca-Cola Enterprises, DHL, Granta Design, High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute, Manufacturing Technology Centre, Philips, Riversimple, Rolls-Royce, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Unilever and WRAP


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