Prairie Lights Reading with Visiting Scholar Lesley-Ann Noel

Apr 11, 2024

07:00 PM

Prairie Lights Books

15 South Dubuque Street, Iowa City, IA 52240

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Leslie-Ann Noel

Free copy of Design Social Change: Take Action, Work Toward Equity, and Challenge the Status Quo for the first 30 attendees!

What motivates you as a changemaker? What forces are preventing you (and others) from thriving? These questions are essential to the work of creating social change, and they are exactly what Lesley-Ann Noel asks you to explore in her new book, Design Social Change: Take Action, Work Toward Equity, and Challenge the Status Quo (Ten Speed Press, 2023). In the book and at her Prairie Lights reading, designer and design educator Lesley-Ann Noel shares essential design strategies for making a lasting impact. This work starts with knowing yourself and builds outward into making change in your community and the larger world. Design Social Change gives you tools to tailor your approach to design, taking into account your history, personality, ethics, and goals for a better future.

The strategies for change presented in the book Design Social Change are based on equity, fairness, and understanding your own role in social systems. These strategies demonstrate how to use positionality and critical awareness to understand the world around you; how emotions like anger and joy are important elements for understanding what people need to thrive; and how envisioning equitable futures can lead to change. Using the tools of design, these approaches will help you take on projects that are relevant to you and create social changes that lead to equitable futures. The time is always right to work toward a fair and just society.

After the reading, Noel will engage in a discussion with Adele Vanarsdale, Director of Campus Project Planning at the University of Iowa, and take questions from the audience.

About the author:

Professor of Media Arts, Design and Technology at North Carolina State University, Noel practices design through emancipatory, critical, and anti-hegemonic lenses, focusing on equity, social justice, and the experiences of people who are often excluded from design research. Her research also highlights the work of designers outside of Europe and North America as an act of decolonizing design. She also attempts to promote greater critical awareness among designers and design students by introducing critical theory concepts and vocabulary into the design studio, e.g. through The Designer’s Critical Alphabet. Noel practices primarily in the areas of social innovation, education, and public health. She is co-chair of the Pluriversal Design Special Interest Group of the Design Research Society and is a co-editor of The Black Experience in Design.


Design Social Change: Take Action, Work Toward Equity, and Challenge the Status Quo
Ten Speed Press, 2023
Lesley-Ann Noel and Stanford d.school

Free and open to all.

Hosted by the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and generously co-sponsored by the UI Office of the Vice President for Research and Prairie Lights Bookstore

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact in advance at