Hello! My name is Denielle Emans and I am an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) and a Ph.D. Candidate within the Centre for Communication and Social Change at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. I earned a Master’s degree in Graphic Design from North Carolina State University’s School of Design and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (with a concentration in Media & Technology Studies and Production). While teaching at VCUarts Qatar, I have developed courses in design activism, social innovation, and sustainability as a way to embolden students to enter the professional landscape as capable, articulate, and thoughtful citizens of the world. I am energized by working with students, examining new processes, and interdisciplinary collaboration with faculty and students alike.
Team-teaching with Associate Professor, Basma Hamdy, along with our shared interest in community engagement and design for social change, has led to several research papers, journal opportunities, and a faculty research grant from VCUQatar. Together, we have developed curriculum to engage students in community-based projects, along with tools to facilitate effective team building based on design competencies such as the Design Powers System. Inspired by existing theories of personality and the cognitive tendency of categorization, our journal article “Design Powers: Cultivating Design Competencies in Collaboration” provides a model for facilitating teamwork in design classrooms.
I am passionate about social justice, intercultural learning, visual storytelling, and empowering diverse teams with design-based methods. I enjoy bringing these topics to life for my students through virtual interactions with Assistant Professor Kelly Murdoch-Kitt’s classes at the University of Michigan. In addition to co‑authoring chapters for the Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Design and the Springer Handbook of Sustainability and Social Science Research, we were jointly recognized by the Design Incubation Teaching Awards for our ongoing intercultural design collaborations in sustainability. We recently co-authored our first book together, entitled Intercultural Collaboration by Design, which introduces a framework for collaborating across cultures and learning to use multicultural perspectives to address pressing global issues.
Through the methods in this book, we invite you to join us in addressing the issues of privilege and social boundaries associated with identities and location; nationality and class; gender and race. Please let us know how you use, adapt, and improve upon these activities. We would love to connect with you: orbit-project.com
If you’d like to collaborate on a project or simply say hello, I’d love to hear from you. Kindly use the form to the left and I’ll be in touch soon.