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 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. As a companion for the book, they are currently working on ORBIT, an Online Resource for Building Intercultural Teams. Set up a profile, share what global challenges interest you most, and the system will match you with potential collaborators in education, industry, and the public sector. Sign up for early access to this groundbreaking resource which will launch in beta soon.

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Mentor & Share


Make & Discuss


Think & Publish


Create & Innovate


Storytelling & Methodologies


Rights & Social Change

Latest News

2020 CAA Conference

This February, the College Art Association (CAA) Conference brought together scholars and creatives from a range of disciplines to discuss art and design practice, education, history, and futures. During this four-day event, Kelly and I were proud to participate in two inspiring sessions that highlighted the power of design to make meaningful differences in people’s lives. The first panel, “Diversifying Diversity: Addressing Marginalized Global Communities through Design,” was chaired by Yelena McLane (Florida State University), Neeta Verna (University of Notre Dame) and Audrey G Bennett (University of Michigan). Their session focused on the ways in which marginalized communities, in a global…

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Nuqta: End of the line

Epic exhibition opening today for “Nuqta: end of the line” at VCUarts Qatar! Thanks to everyone who stopped by and joined us—including alumnae, faculty, staff, students, and Diane von Furstenberg!  The exhibition features work produced in my collaborative course “CoLab: Future Realities + Design Activism” co-taught with the always inspiring, Basma Hamdy with the support of our wonderful TA Faheem Khan. In the exhibition, students reinterpret the past and present using world-building to examine positions of power and resistance. Each installation investigates how design propositions can trace the path to alternative worlds, raising awareness on collective futures as a form of design…

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Intercultural Collaboration by Design

I am excited to announce that the book I have been working on with 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 anecdotes from…

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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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Reimagining Health & Safety Communication in Qatar

I am so grateful to this incredible group of people for dedicating their time and creative energy to the workshop series “Reimagining Health & Safety Communication for Multilingual Workers in Qatar.” What an honor it has been to work together to examine, discuss, and design for inclusive and accessible health, safety, and wellness. You are ALL superstars in my eyes!! Goals of the workshop included: Support construction workers from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds Discuss ways to overcome barriers to communication Explore how graphic design can assist in better communicating health and safety information to the diverse workforce. This workshop…

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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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