Social Design: Bridging Two Continents Through Collaboration and Innovation

Students understand their role as designers/co-creators/catalysts within a global context to explore the problem of sustainability

Design Teaching Award Winner

Neeta Verma
Associate Professor
University of Notre Dame

The aim of this advanced-level course in Social Design was for students to understand their role as designers/co-creators/catalysts within a global context to explore the problem of sustainability. This multi-disciplinary partnership brought together students from the University of Notre Dame (UND) and the National Institute of Design(NID) in India. The cohort of 14 students traveled approximately 17,000 miles, with 19 weeks of working together (3 weeks in India, 2 weeks in the US, and 14 weeks of working virtually). With an emphasis on problem solving and innovation, the learning goal was to examine the problem of sustainability through a cross-cultural prism, in India and the United States— two very divergent socio-economic constructs. The project was funded through a $30,000 grant awarded to the lead faculty. This semester-long collaboration was to help students develop an understanding of social constructs within two divergent economies and look through globally re-contextualized perspectives at the singular issue of sustainability. The course was designed as a solution solution-finding process for a singular problem, where students not only to sought a solution but gained a deeper understanding of complex cultural, social, and economic environments within which design solutions often need to find congruity. The students gained both a depth of understanding and breadth of social competency of the frame of reference within which their solutions were expected to function.


The course followed an 8-step pedagogical process used in the Social Design class.

Empathy: the understanding the needs, attitudes, and pre-dispositions of a people with whom the designers are working

Immersion: Daily engagement and involvement over a period of time

Awareness: Observations and knowledge gathering of a problem area within its cultural context

Definition: Determining the scope of research and inquiry

Engagement: Understanding stakeholders and their interconnectedness

Synthesis and problem framing: Structuring the context within which the problem is being defined

Design interventions: Collaborative encounters that facilitate solution-finding at the grassroots

Integration: Ensuring that the solution embeds itself within the context from which the problem emerged


A total of six projects were completed. Of those, the one listed below is being showcased: Sustainable Packaging by Kacey Hengesbach (UND), Anupam Garg (NID)

The project looked at packaging trends in the current fruit and vegetable markets supply chain to document non-sustainable packaging trends and explore ways to replace existing packaging solutions with biodegradable alternatives in India.


The students developed cultural competencies by discovering ways of navigating new environments. Within research students were introduced to ethnographic research; and empirical investigation through interviews, photo and film documentation, logging daily activity, contextual analysis, and partnering with local individuals working in the supply chains to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges. The project framework for the project focused primarily on a critical understanding of convergence and divergence in problem-framing that helped students position their research in two diametrically different geographies. In some cases, the research yielded similar results between the two contexts and in others, there was great divergence.


The following steps were used within the design process:

1. Problem Definition

Researching statistics that quantitatively describe the acute problem of plastic consumption and the proportion that is specifically used for fruit and vegetable packaging. Also examined was the per capita consumption of plastics in the United States and India as they compare to world consumption.

2. Researching the market

Students researched the time and distance fruits and vegetables travel to get to markets. They examined the complexity of supply chains and journeys of fruits and vegetables as well as the needs that packaging had to fill along those journeys before arriving at the local wholesale markets.

3. Field research, interviews, and photo documentation

Over two weeks, students visited the wholesale and retail markets to understand the various needs of the vendors and where plastics were replacing traditional materials.

4. Exploring material

Students explored traditionally used regional materials like bulrush, banana, bamboo, and jute but ultimately chose the water hyacinth, a plant that is predominantly found across the world. It has both pliability and high strength in its various stages of drying.

5. Exploring materiality

Students explored the pliability and the tensile strength of the water hyacinth in its various stages of drying. They also examined how different surfaces could be created during each stage of drying to develop surfaces from soft (for protection) to hard (for support and bearing weight) to accommodate the varying needs of the markets.

6. The Design Intervention

For the final design intervention, the proposed solution was a packaging solution that offered a cradle to cradle method made out of naturally biodegradable materials, specifically using water hyacinth in combination with jute and bulrush. The packaging system was customizable, stackable, usable for display, reusable for future use, compactable, and transportable.

7. Project Design Impact

Environment: Creating a product that benefits the environment by ridding it of an invasive species without the use of harmful chemicals.

Economy: Adding income to rural areas that participate in manufacturing.

Culture: Supporting existing regional crafts and using their skills to create sustainable packaging solutions.


The course due to its travel component and the complexity of the problem exposed students to contexts that they had never experienced before expanding the classroom globally. Challenges included differences in climate, language, and cultural etiquettes. The academic challenges lay in navigating the research as the students immersed themselves in unfamiliar environments. On the other hand, experiencing the richness of a whole new culture and renegotiating the sense of the self within a new context helped broaden perspectives. The opportunity provided an incredibly enriching experience for design students to immerse themselves within a new social, cultural, and economic order. The experience enabled the design students to gain global perspectives about the implications of design and the impact it can have. Above all, with social innovation at the core of design education today, this experience built confidence and resiliency within students as they situated themselves within diverse contexts and collaborated with others to manage complexity at both global and local scales.

Neeta Verma is an Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame and situates herself within the porous discipline of Visual Communication Design. Her areas of research and teaching focus on social equity and justice. She teaches Social Design at the intersection of social innovation and collaborative practices, and Visualization of Data that investigates the aesthetics, ethics, and politics of representation. Her current research, supported by a prestigious grant, examines youth violence. She received her MFA from Yale and currently holds Faculty Fellowships at the Center for Social Concerns, the Liu Institute for Asia & Asian Studies, and the Pulte Institute for Global Development at the University of Notre Dame. She is the recipient of several awards including Graphis, Core77, A’Design Awards, and International Design Awards. She has presented her research at both national and international conferences. She serves on the SEGD Academic Task Force and CAA Committee on Design.

Visual and Verbal Communication on Sustainable Packaging As a Vehicle for Public Education and Awareness

There is no universal, standardized label to inform that packaging is sustainable

Hyena Nam
Adjunct Professor
Visual Communication Department
Kent State University

Designers have a responsibility, to participate, in sustainable design strategies which can help educate society and guide it to preferred solutions. One such solution might be the usage of sustainable package designs, which would serve to preserve the environment, use renewable, recycled resources, and facilitate effective material recovering (Definition of Sustainable Packaging).

One of the significant findings from case studies of the sustainable packaging was that effective visual and verbal communication has often been overlooked in many sustainable package designs. There is no universal, standardized label to inform the public that the packaging is sustainable and promotes the need for sustainability. Additionally, the terminology used for labeling is confusing and there aren’t sufficient informative statements for the public which clearly illustrate the proper method of disposal.

It is important to choose well-defined and clear language in order that the public is able to distinguish between labels. Visual and verbal packaging designations are important to influence consumer responses (Magnier and Schoormans) and a higher degree of understanding makes it easier for the consumer to execute actual behavior (Grunert, Klaus G., et al.). Educating the public through a successful communication design should be prioritized. The purpose of this critical approach is to develop a conceptual framework for the understanding of sustainable package designs, and to explore effective visual communication methods to reach consumers by creating tangible, sustainable, package designs.

The processes of designing a sustainability label aids the understanding of consumer perspectives in regards to their awareness and motivation toward sustainability. In the end, it helps to develop visual and verbal signs, which can impact consumer behavior and promote the needs of sustainability. It can also serve as an opportunity to gain an in-depth insight into visual communication in packaging designs which, will broaden the knowledge base of designers creating successful sustainable packaging designs.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.3: Florida Atlantic University on Saturday, April 10, 2021.


Grunert, Klaus G., et al. “Sustainability Labels on Food Products: Consumer Motivation, Understanding and Use.” Food Policy, vol. 44, Feb. 2014, pp. 177-189. EBSCOhost,

Magnier, Lise and Jan Schoormans. “Consumer Reactions to Sustainable Packaging: The Interplay of Visual Appearance, Verbal Claim and Environmental Concern.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2015. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.09.005.

Sustainable Packaging Coalition. Definition of Sustainable Packaging. SPC, 2011, Accessed 22 May. 2018.

Diseño y Diáspora Podcast

Service Award Winner
Jury Commendation for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Service: Expanding the Canon

This is a podcast on social design for the Spanish and Portuguese speaking community. We publish 2 episodes per week. We have 10000 listeners per month which is currently the most popular design podcast in Spanish.

We have published 180 interviews with selected professionals working in the field of design, mostly in the area of social innovation. The topics on which we focus covers the contribution of design to education, development, health, sustainability, security and public administration. In addition, we have numerous episodes dedicated to communities of designers supporting informal education and designers doing a collaboration with indigenous communities.

The aims of this podcast are to connect researchers and designers in the Spanish and Portuguese diaspora with those communities living in their home countries and to bring together a variety of design researchers and practitioners. We connect designers interested in social change, while speaking and understanding the same languages, yet living in different parts of the world.

We gather and spread social design materials through our Instagram account and our website, For example, there are many listeners to our podcasts that regularly make requests for academic papers and publications that we share on our Instagram page. We have many thematic lists that can be accessed via Spotify and our website.

We also collaborate intensively with professors in universities that have used the podcast in their classes. On our blog, we have written four articles documenting this collaboration and the possible uses of the podcast in design education. At the moment we are exploring the possibility to do a series of books based on compilations of interviews done for the podcast. We are collaborating on this endeavor with researchers in the fields of health and public administration as the first two books that we will publish are on design and health and the contribution of design to government. Under Mariana’s initiative, we have gathered a group of designers doing podcasts in Spanish. Now we are 25 in this group and we are developing as a collective and considering our direction of growth. Mariana collaborated with another podcaster from this group to write an article about the state of the art of the podcast on design in Spanish.

This podcast is a team effort. Andrés Fechtenholz, Julian Pereyra, Antonio Zimmermann and Mercedes Salgado are key members. Andrés and Julian are sound designers and co-producers, Antonio does the original music and Mercedes is the community manager of Instagram.

Mariana Salgado is a senior designer and a researcher working in service and interaction design.

Currently, she works in Inland design, an innovation and design lab at the MInistry of the Interior: Inland design.  This lab used to be part of the Finnish Immigration Service where she worked for two and a half years, leading it. In addition, she currently produces and hosts Diseño y diáspora, a podcast on design for social change (in Spanish and Portuguese).

Previously, she has worked in cultural heritage and global health projects always under a participatory framework. Her partners varied from project to project but the setting is always transcultural and transdisciplinary. She has worked in collaboration with different communities such as vulnerable groups of immigrants, professionals in memory organizations, global health experts, and rural citizens in developing countries.

She has a doctorate degree from the Media department (2009) and master degree from the Design Department at the University of Art and Design Helsinki (2002). Her bachelor degree is in Industrial Design from the University of Buenos Aires (1998).

Andrés Fechtenholz is a film director, storyteller, and podcast producer. After 15 years as a cameraman and editor, he gained experience and knowledge in new media exploring new ways of telling stories. He developed his career at the rhythm of the digitization of media’s tools and content. He works with new technologies, hybrid formats, in convergent companies. The starting point was a degree as a podcast specialist in cultural industries in the digital convergence era at the UNTREF (University of Tres de Febrero). He is a co-producer and sound designer in Diseño y diáspora.

Julián Pereyra studies music and sound production at the ORT Institute. He works as a functional analyst in the Secretary of Public Innovation. He is a sound designer in Diseño y diáspora podcast.

Antonio Zimmerman is a composer, teacher, and entrepreneur. He is currently working as a Professor at UNTREF (University of Tres de Febrero). As a composer and sound designer, he makes music and sounds for video games and media. He created the music for Diseño y Diáspora. Also, he developed Oir, an award-winning music game for iOS.

Mercedes Salgado Moralejo is a feminist anthropologist. She is the community manager for Diseño y diáspora. In her free time, she enjoys playing football or learning a new language.

Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2020 recipient

Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Design

Scholarship: Published Research Award Winner

Rachel Beth Egenhoefer, Associate Professor, University of San Francisco (Editor)

I have taught courses in, and done research on sustainable design for over ten years. Throughout that time I was dedicated to pushing the notion of sustainable design beyond individual products to wider, systems perspectives where designers would be able to make more impactful changes in the future. While creating products from recycled materials or more “eco” options is a start, to make real change designers need to look at how to change consumption behaviors not just on individual levels, but as communities and a global society. This type of research goes beyond thinking about design as “object” to design as “experience” and requires using systems thinking, ethnography, future casting and other methods of critical inquiry. Having previously published in Routledge’s Sustainability Hub, and after serving as a peer-reviewer for the publisher, they approached me to develop a book on the topic for their handbook series on the topic of sustainable design.

The wicked problems we face in the climate crisis require more solutions than any one person can harness. Collaboration, interdisciplinary, and dialog are urgently needed. Part of my research portfolio is not just creating my own work as an individual researcher, but also working as a thought leader who organizes, curates, and facilitates the work of others working in sustainability to advance the field of sustainable design as a whole. This was my goal in deciding to edit and produce a new handbook.

In 2018, I published the Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Design, making a significant contribution to the field of sustainable design and design pedagogy. Rather than produce an anthology of previously published work or repeat static ideas on sustainability in design, I took the opportunity to push the field to include this more expansive, systems thinking approach to sustainability. My proposal went through a double blind international peer review. As editor of the book, I took special steps to broaden the topics framing, and outline a new way of considering design for sustainability. My work became somewhat curatorial in developing a group of contributors whose collective strength would be more powerful than individual ideas. I sought authors beyond the design community, and those who represented international and diverse voices, coaching each contributor on how to fit their work into the overall narrative I constructed. I made a conscious effort to have more than half of the book be made of up women and people of color – something not seen in traditional academic design publications. Given that designers need to work beyond their own discipline chapters were also included from other disciplines including Environmental Science, Politics, Philosophy, Engineering, and others. The 36 chapters in the book represent an array of powerful voices and ideas, which collectively seek to address how designers can take critically and proactively take on design for sustainable change.

In addressing issues of design for global impact, behavior change, systems and strategy, ethics and values, the Handbook of Sustainable Design presents a unique and powerful design perspective.  The handbook has been well received in Europe and in the US, with testimonials from prominent researchers in the field. The book is used by students and scholars in universities around the world including Carnegie Mellon University, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), UC Berkeley, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Michigan, Oberlin College, Loughborough University UK, Cranfield University UK, University of the Arts London, University of Brighton, University of Oslo, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, TU Delft, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Queensland University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and of course the University of San Francisco.

Because of my role as editor and producer of this book, I have been asked to present and speak about the book and its concepts at conferences and events, attesting to its impact. This included: organizing and moderating Being Human in the Anthropocene: Understanding the Human in our Impact as part of Jerry Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit, organizing and producing the Compostmodern event series with AIGA SF, speaking on the panel Social Design in Tumultuous Times: Why and How to Publish About it at the AIGA MAKE Design Educators Conference, presenting Sustainability in the Visual Arts, Design, and Creative Fields at the national AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) conference.

See also:

Rachel Beth Egenhoefer is a design professor, artist and writer, whose work integrates technology, craft, and design. Her current focus is on sustainability and systems thinking as related to behavior change. Egenhoefer is currently the Chair of the Department of Art + Architecture, Program Director of the Design Program, and an Associate Professor in Design at the University of San Francisco, where she has taught since 2009. Egenhoefer is the editor of the Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Design and a contributor to Routledge’s Sustainability Hub Believing in the power of education to move sustainable action forward, she has been a part of ASHEE’s Sustainability Across the Curriculum Program, and presented her work on sustainable design education at the AIGA Design Educators Forum, PALS (Partnership for Academic Leadership), the School of Visual Arts in New York, San Francisco Art Institute, and others.

Recipient of recognition in the Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2019.

Lessons from Mom & Pop on Resourceful Design

Kelly Porter
Assistant Professor, Graphic Design
Art & Design, College of Arts & Sciences

East Tennessee State University

My first introduction to design was a sign on the outside of my Pop’s shop, which was on the same property as the house I lived in. My Pop was a country mechanic. He hand painted the sign on the masthead of his garage. JOE’S AUTO SERVICE. My dad followed in the same genre of work as my Pop. He was a traveling tire salesperson for more than a decade between the 70’s and 80’s. We would travel across the southeast with tires piled higher than the cab of his 1975 two-toned brown Chevy Bonanza. Most of the clientele were located in rural or isolated towns and non-metropolitan areas. These backroads were peppered with mom and pop businesses like JOE’S AUTO SERVICE, many of whom created their own signs just like my Pop. These signs were made with the “amateur aesthetic,” a term borrowed from Alfred Stieglitz and applied to untrained “designers” who create their own signs. These rural towns were not homogenized “omnitopias”, but rather were, and in some cases still are remote islands of authenticity, resourcefulness and ingenuity when it comes to visual communication.

This paper examines the vernacular of small town amateur aesthetics in design including techniques and materiality as well as mythology and humanity inherent in hand made vernacular and DIY signage. I will also acknowledge and discuss cultural hierarchy and privilege that separate the design world from the untrained naïve design. Can we collapse the distinction between the professional and the amateur? What opportunities present themselves in the divide? What can we learn from these approaches?

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.2: CAA 2018 Conference Los Angeles on February 24, 2018.

Designfulness: Teaching Designers to Mindfully Create a Sustainable Future

Rachel Beth Egenhoefer
Chair, Department of Art + Architecture 
Program Director & Associate Professor, Design
University of San Francisco

In today’s culture technology is speeding up our lives, creating the perceived need for everything to be faster, newer, better, sleeker, now!  As we train the next wave of designers, they are faced with these challenges both as students, and in the professional world they will enter.

Simultaneously, the world is faced with the climate change crisis.  On global and local levels the impacts of environmental degradation are real and impacting our communities.  The need for designers to think and work sustainably has never been greater.

One of the greatest challenges in teaching sustainable design (either to students or consumers for that matter) is doing so within a culture that values speed.   So much of our daily habits and lifestyles rely on quick, convenient decisions that   ultimately lead to unsustainable patterns.

To truly tackle issues in sustainability we, as designers and consumers, need to slow down.  Slowing down allows us to understand the complicated impacts of spilt second decisions so that we can redesign a better solution.  Slowing down allows us to understand community and those around us.  Slowing down allows us to question how we live, and how we want to live.  Mindfulness based practices is one way to slow down and reflect on these questions.

Integrating mindfulness into design education better prepares students to be more conscious designers in the future.  As a result, not only are they conscious designers, they are also more conscious citizens.  As such, one might hope, that future generations can combat fast moving lifestyles and create a more sustainable future.

This Design Incubator talk shares ideas in integrating mindfulness into design education to empower future designers to conscious designers and citizens for a better world.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.

Thinking Like a Forest / Ecological Empathy

Jason Dilworth
Associate Professor
Visual Arts + New Media
SUNY at Fredonia

Since 2013 our organization has worked to respond and understand the forest as an idea generator for the designer. Through a process of exploration, reflection,and action we investigate through objects and questions. We seek to understand how complex forests systems work and sometimes fail. Through our investigations we find connections to the communities and work to build global partnerships while also creating a better understanding of our local bioregions, specifically the forests that live around us.

The presentation will introduce our research into the material and design culture of historic New York utopian communities and how their ideas contributed to, or countered, the ideological thinking that forever altered the region’s ecology and economies. Additionally we will also present our work and research on the reforestation efforts happening in East Iceland and explain the role that design is playing in building community and government support for the effort.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.0: SUNY New Paltz on September 9, 2017.

Visualizing Mental Models

Joshua Korenblat
Assistant Professor
Graphic Design

State University of New York at New Paltz

Visual communicators can work at the center of ideas by understanding mental models. A mental model is an abstract representation of reality that enables thinking, understanding, and knowledge sharing. In his book Visual Complexity, Mapping Patterns of Information, researcher Manuel Lima identifies two broad historical trends in mental models: earlier tree-based models of knowledge, illustrated in the literal form of trees, shift into today’s more abstract, network-based models of knowledge.

As summarized by Raph Koster in his influential book A Theory of Fun for Game Design, thinking is pattern-matching against experience. Patterns are stored in memory as chunks of information. Most of the time, the brain works with these abstract chunks—a type of autopilot—rather than processing incoming information in detail. Poetry breaks us from the autopilot mode through vivid descriptions and figurative verbal language. Like a poem, a visual mental model can break readers from their autopilot mode by allowing them to examine their assumptions in a material way. These diagrams rely upon an elegant visual alphabet. Mental models appear in user experience research as affinity maps and user journeys. Or they can show systems, a set of interdependent parts, below the threshold of events and action. Ultimately, the most vivid mental models allow the reader to see a belief or story.

After presenting historic mental models, I’ll show a simple design case study for how to make a mental model, adapted from systems theorist Derek Cabrera. I’ll then discuss when to represent the model in an abstract way, and when it might benefit the designer to represent the model in a more illustrative way. Designers who wish to create vivid, shareable artifacts of our world can use mental models as a tool to enhance communication, conversation, and action with their constituents.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.0: SUNY New Paltz on September 9, 2017.

Light Switch Graphically-Assisted Nudges

Niyati Mehta
Adjunct Lecturer
New York City College of Technology
Nassau Community College
Lehman College 


The aim of this nudge is to demonstrate how Visual Design combined with Behavioral Science can have a positive impact on user (kids’) behavior through the unknown creation of choice architecture. Parents told us that an often-encountered irritant was the necessity for them to remind their young children (aged 5-10) to switch off the light. We took this cue to develop a nudge to encourage children to use the light switch when leaving a room. The aim of this nudge is to reduce electricity consumption to save money, promote the practice of sustainability and to mitigate parental stress.

Description and Development

The graphically-assisted nudge developed is a cutout template that is printed on a home computer printer and then affixed to a light switch plate. Parents access the graphically-assisted nudges via the Nudging for Kids website ( Step by step instructions are included in the downloadable pdf package.

In the ‘fish and bowl’ template, children understand that the fish is, “out of place” and they want to help it get back to where it belongs (the fish bowl). Two alternate templates were developed using ‘basketball’ and ‘bug’ motifs. The bug motif, uses the “cognitive learning effect” where the child remembers to switch off the light by associating it with the bug’s color or a name it has given the bug. The basketball template, with its requirement to pull down the string holding the basketball, uses a child’s desire to explore and understand by exercising her/his manual skills.

The nudges also take advantage of the, “IKEA Effect”–the tendency for people to place a disproportionately high value on objects that they have partially assembled themselves (regardless of the quality of the result).

Preliminary Small Sample Size Try-Out

In an initial proof-of-concept try-out, all three graphic nudges were installed in ten homes near Westchester, New York (USA) in December of 2016.

The preliminary results are promising, but the sample size is too small to draw conclusions.

A larger sample size test is in the planning stage.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 3.2: Parsons Integrated Design on Thursday, Feb 16, 2017.

Intercultural Design Collaborations in Sustainability

Working remotely as cross-cultural teams, students explore ways design can address sustainable behaviors and lifestyle choices around diverse topics such as food, water, environmental degradation, social justice and cultural preservation.

Kelly Murdoch-Kitt and Denielle Emans work together in an ongoing series of semester-long collaborations with their respective students to make meaningful connections between the concept of sustainability and people’s day-to-day lives. Working remotely as cross-cultural teams, students explore ways design can address sustainable behaviors and lifestyle choices around diverse topics such as food, water, environmental degradation, social justice and cultural preservation. The semester typically culminates in a public exhibition on each campus, enabling students to share their concepts and communications with their local communities. Additionally, the most recent student exhibition, “Co-creating sustainable futures: American and Middle Eastern visual design students explore behavior change” was presented at the 2015 Association for the Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Conference in Minneapolis, MN, USA.

Kelly Murdoch-Kitt is Assistant Professor in the Graphic Design program at Rochester Institute of Technology’s College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. She teaches and works primarily in the areas of user experience and service design. Her recent collaborations exploring the socio-cultural benefits of cross-cultural design education and the benefits of integrating sustainability challenges into project-based design courses. Kelly and her collaborator, Denielle Emans, recently presented research at Spaces of Learning: AIGA Design Educators Conference and the 2015 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Conference and Expo, “Transforming Sustainability Education.” Recent journal publications include “Design Nexus: integrating cross-cultural learning experiences into graphic design education” in Studies in Material Thinking 11: Re/materialising Design Education Futures (co-authored with Prof. Denielle Emans, 2014) and “Sustainability at the forefront: educating students through complex challenges in visual communication and design” in Interdisciplinary Environmental Review (co-authored with Kelly Norris Martin & Denielle Emans, 2015).

Denielle Emans is an Assistant Professor in the Graphic Design Department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, specializing in the area of experiential design in relation to the conceptualization, development, and execution of visual messages for social change and sustainability. As a designer, she has worked to create print, web, and motion design solutions for clients ranging from software specialists to international institutions. Denielle has published her research in a number of academic journals and presented at numerous conferences across the world. She holds a Master of Graphic Design from North Carolina State University’s College of Design and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Denielle is currently a Ph.D. Candidate within the Centre for Communication and Social Change at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

Recipient of recognition in the Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2016.