This March, I was humbled by the invitation to participate in the Riwaq Al Fikr event on the topic of “Design for Social Change” with keynote guest speaker, Jessica Walsh, partner at Sagmeister & Walsh. Sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and Zayed University, this panel discussion was part of the Abu Dhabi Festival 2017: Culture and Tolerance.

I was pleased to invite graphic design student, Amira Natsheh, to participate in the panel and share her experience as the President of the recently formed Chit Chat Chai Club with the audience. As panel members, we engaged in an educational debate about how to utilize design to bring about positive change to our societies. The debate portion of the event was moderated by Ahmed Alanzi, manager of Dubai Design and Fashion Council.

This opportunity enabled audience members to learn about community outreach and social innovation from a professional and regional standpoint. Along with bridging student learning with real-world activities in the Region, this experience also connected VCUQatar design students with Emirati Art & Design students at Zayed University.

As part of the fun, I also organized a five-day field study with seven students to Abu Dhabi. The trip was co-chaperoned with Maryam Y Al-Homaid and involved visiting the Emirates Palace, Sheikh Zayed Mosque, and Alserkal Avenue (one of the region’s leading arts hub). I had a blast spending time with these talented designers and invite you to check out some of the field study photos from the 5-day adventure.