Welcome to the online portal of

Denielle Emans

Bringing participatory and critical mechanisms
together to fuel creative action


An interdisciplinary journey in creativity

Denielle Emans is an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) and a PhD Candidate within the Centre for Communication and Social Change at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. She is passionate about social justice, intercultural learning, visual storytelling, and empowering teams with design-based methods. Denielle recently co-authored the book “Intercultural Collaboration by Design: Drawing from Differences, Distances, and Disciplines Through Visual Thinking” with Professor Kelly Murdoch-Kitt. With over 30 hands-on activities, this book will be of great interest to diverse teams from a variety of disciplines who want to enhance intercultural learning and co-working to address pressing global issues.

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Mentor & Share


Make & Discuss


Think & Publish


Create & Innovate


Storytelling & Methodologies


Rights & Social Change

Latest News

Intercultural Collaboration by Design

I am excited to announce that the book I have been working on with the incredible Kelly M. Murdoch-Kitt is available for pre-order! “Intercultural Collaboration by Design” introduces a framework for collaborating across cultures and features charming illustrations by illustrator Tammi Heneveld. This handbook helps people work, learn, and teach across cultures. Through the activities highlighted in this book, virtual and intercultural teams will find a practical route for initiating and sustaining productive work across disciplinary and social barriers. Teams can craft a plan to achieve their goals by selecting the activities that best meet their needs and interests. First-person…

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IAMCR Madrid 2019

I was absolutely charmed by Spanish hospitality this July when I visited the city of Madrid for the IAMCR (International Association for Media and Communication Research) Conference. The central theme of this year’s conference was Communication, Technology, and Human Dignity: Disputed Rights, Contested Truths. The opening ceremony was held at the Cibeles Palace, home to Madrid City Hall, which is covered with an immense glass dome. The venue served as a wonderful opportunity to meet new colleagues and rekindle friendships. Held from 7 to 11 July at the School of Communication of the Complutense University of Madrid, the conference program…

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MODE 2019 Summit

The MODE Summit in New Zealand was an absolute blast this past week! MODE is a gathering of design educators and researchers who specialize in the area of motion design. The theme for the 2019 edition was (inter)play, the way in which two or more things have an effect on each other. Held at Massey University’s Toi Rauwhārangi College of Creative Arts, the Summit was an inspiring three days of talks, keynote presentations, and workshops. Educators came from diverse backgrounds in design, typography, cinema, theatre, animation, and storytelling to discuss interfaces, interactive systems, and narratives that incorporate exchanges of dynamic…

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BFA Thesis

It has been an immensely rewarding semester co-teaching the 2019 edition of “Senior Studio” with Basma Hamdy, a course that culminates with the production of a Graphic Design BFA thesis and participation in the VCUarts Qatar BFA + MFA Exhibition. Our students worked on a wide range of topics for their thesis projects, ranging from space exploration and mental health, to Arabic typography and comparative religions. The culminating BFA + MFA Exhibition was an opportunity to showcase all of this outstanding work to a range of visitors from across Qatar. Judges Choice As part of the exhibition component of the…

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Designing Across Divides 2019

I worked in collaboration with Kelly Murdoch-Kitt (at the University of Michigan) and Basma Hamdy (at VCUarts Qatar) this past Fall 2018, to engage students in co-creating tools for community change, an initiative tied to the Designing Across Divides Conference at WVU. As part of the conference call, graphic designers were invited to design a pair of banners to illustrate how to bridge or address a divide, in a format that would be positioned to the left and the right of a light pole. Selected work would be hung on the streets of Morgantown (West Virginia) during the month of…

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Tasmeem: Behind the Scenes Exhibition

Throughout Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 academic year, I was honored to serve as a member of the “Tasmeem in the Classroom” sub-committee at VCUarts Qatar with Wajiha Pervez, Maryam Y Al-Homaid, and Mahmoud Abbas. This initiative aimed to engage faculty and students in the Tasmeem Doha Conference by showcasing projects developed around the theme of Hekayat (stories) within art and design practice. “The concept of Hekayat (stories) in art and design can be understood through multiple lenses, connecting audiences with cultures, histories, and future visions. There is something magical that happens when a story emerges through a piece of…

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Tasmeem 2019

I am genuinely sad to see Tasmeem 2019 come to a close! It has been a fantastic three-days of inspiring speakers, engaging workshops, and fun activities—led by four incredible women, who also happen to be VCUarts Qatar alumnae! They did an exceptional job bringing together a lineup of speakers with tremendous heart and soul, curating numerous exhibitions, and working with designers across our spatial and graphic worlds to make the conference a success.  On the first day of Tasmeem 2019, I was honored to participate in Narratives Mash-up + Responsive Riso Stories led by Tricia Treacy. During the workshop, I…

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Future Realities Exhibition

This has been an incredible semester exploring dystopian visions and contradictions of power with students in CoLab, a joint elective co-taught with Basma Hamdy. In this context, my “Design Activism” course joined forces with Hamdy’s “Language + Context” course in a model of collaborative inquiry aimed at responding to current socio-political positions of power and resistance. Together, students researched contemporary case studies in science fiction and dystopic scenarios in order to create unique future scenarios, tracing a path to alternative worlds. These predictive futures aimed to raise awareness, expose assumptions, provoke action, and spark debate about our collective future(s). As…

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Information+ Conference

The Information+ Conference 2018 was absolutely inspiring! This inter­disciplinary platform brought together a fantastic lineup of speakers who explored a range of historic and future practices in information design and data visualization. The entire event was thoughtful, inclusive and beyond informative! I can’t remember the last time I attended a conference where the entire audience remained engaged in productive exchanges from the first keynote to the very end. It was indeed an example of the power of bringing together all kinds of people involved in the theories, practices, and pedagogies to work through common questions and challenges in these rapidly…

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