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This month, our department came together to share our research practices using the PechaKucha 20x20 format. In Japanese, PechaKucha means "chit chat," and the structure asks presenters to show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images forward automatically, and the presenter speaks along to the series of pictures. In other words, each faculty member had 400 seconds to tell their research story, with visuals guiding the way. Intrigued? If so,...

Like many academics this year, the Summer of COVID-19 has been one for the history books. Each of us has been challenged personally and professionally in ways we never expected. We are at a crossroads of many, forging ahead and yet blind to the precise path before us. This journey’s highs and lows, particularly regarding social justice, remain essential to the work we do in the classroom. It is an exciting...

It has been an absolute pleasure to serve on Asma Derouiche’s MFA committee and work alongside a fantastic group of interdisciplinary colleagues this year. Asma’s thesis brought together artisans and designers in Doha to reenvision the notion of product “authenticity” in this highly international capital city. I am looking forward to seeing Asma lead more critical collaborations such as these, shedding light on the importance of inclusive creative practices throughout...

I had a fantastic time serving with Diane Derr and Rab McClure on Zeinah Zahir’s MFA committee and can’t wait to see what happens next with this meaningful project! Zeinah’s thesis proposes concrete ways to capitalize on visually impaired students’ enhanced abilities through other intact senses like touch, sound, taste, or smell. Thesis Title: Sensory Substitution, Key to Inclusive Learning Abstract: Visually impaired students, in primary education, encounter unique challenges while learning...

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...

Nuqta: End of the Line was a three-week exhibition held at VCUarts Qatar from November 23 to December 12, 2019. The show featured speculative design work created in the Co-Lab Studio course I adore(!) co-teaching with Basma Hamdy. In this iteration of our collaboration, we brought together students enrolled in the elective courses Future Realities + Design Activism to examine power and resistance positions. Our students worked together in small teams using world-building...

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...

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...

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...

What does a Graphic Design thesis look like at VCUarts Qatar? Anything you can imagine! Students explore various materials, methods, and investigations to carve out a unique space for themselves, from printed matter to speculative artifacts. As a course dedicated to the BFA thesis, the Senior Studio engages with the multiple facets of design studies, serving as a proposition explained by design research and written elements. The form an individual...

It has been a rewarding semester co-teaching the 2019 edition of Senior Studio with Associate Professor Basma Hamdy. Our students worked on a wide range of topics for their thesis projects, from space exploration and mental health to Arabic typography and comparative religions. The culminating BFA + MFA Exhibition was an opportunity to showcase their outstanding work to a range of visitors from across Qatar. A massive shoutout to Basma for...

I am so proud of Rabeya Khatoon for passing her MFA Oral Thesis Defense this week. Her project "Whirling Hybrids: A Dichotomy Of Belonging" involved creating a series of hybridized spinning tops infused with sensory materials to celebrate Qatar's diverse cultures. It was an honor to engage with such a wonderful group of people around a project dedicated to belongingness across cultures and nationalities. A quote that beautifully captures the...

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...

This Fall, I collaborated with Kelly Murdoch-Kitt (at the University of Michigan) and Basma Hamdy (at VCUarts Qatar) to engage students in the Designing Across Divides Conference at West Virginia University. As part of the conference call, participants were invited to "bridge a divide" through the creation of two banners, positioned to the left and the right of a light pole. Selected work was hung on Morgantown's streets during the conference...

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...

Throughout the 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...

This has been an incredible semester exploring dystopian visions and contradictions of power with students in Co-Lab, a joint elective co-taught with Basma Hamdy. In this iteration of the collaborative studio, my “Design Activism” course joined forces with Basma's “Language + Context” course in a model of speculative inquiry aimed at responding to current socio-political positions of power and resistance. Our course links concepts from design fiction and futuring to...

How might we foster intercultural communication skills in the interaction design classroom? How might we support productive design collaborations between students in North America and the Middle East? These questions were the driving force behind a project that brought together students at VCUarts Qatar with students enrolled in Kelly Murdoch-Kitt's design course at the University of Michigan. Organized into cross-cultural teams, students participated in a seven-week intensive dedicated to considering...