Skip to main content

Lesley-Ann Noel, PhD

Assistant Professor of Media Arts, Design and Technology


Lesley-Ann has a BA in Industrial Design from the Universidade Federal do Paraná, in Curitiba, Brazil. She has a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. She earned her PhD in Design from North Carolina State University in 2018.

Lesley-Ann 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.

Lesley-Ann’s research interests are emancipatory research centered around the perspectives of those who would traditionally be excluded from research, community-led research, design-based learning and design thinking. She practices primarily in the area of social innovation, education and public health. She is co-Chair of the Pluriversal Design Special Interest Group of the Design Research Society. She is a co-editor of “The Black Experience in Design.”

Current Research

Co-Investigator: Grounding Health Research in Design Thinking for Equitable Engagement to Address COVID19 (GRID ENGAGEMENT) – Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI):

July 2022 – June 2023 Using Design Inquiry Methods to Improve Patient Centered Outcomes Research in Maternal Child Health NCSU Faculty Research & Professional Development Fund $4,000

July 2022 – June 2021 STEM-Based Games Against Oppression: A Multi-Week Social-Justice-Focused Game Design Workshop for Raleigh Youth NCSU Office of Outreach & Engagement $10,000

April – Dec 2022 – 2022 Innovation Engagement with the City of Portsmouth Virginia (ITP2) / Bloomberg Harvard Innovation Track, Centre for Public Impact,  (BH5) $69,325

Recent Publications


  • Berry, A. H., Collie, K., Laker, P. A., Noel, L. A., Rittner, J., & Walters, K. (2022). The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression, & Reflection. Allworth.
  • Tsekleves, E & Noel, L. (Eds) (2022) The Little Book of Designer’s Existential Crises in 2022). DRS Global Health SIG and DRS Pluriversal Design SIG, Lancaster University
The Black Experience in Design Book Cover
The Black Experience in Design: Identity, Expression, & Reflection.

Journal Articles:

  • Noel L (2022) Designing New Futures for Design Education, Design and Culture, DOI: 10.1080/17547075.2022.2105524
  • Noel, L (2022). “Dreaming outside the boxes that hold me in: Speculation and design thinking as tools for hope and liberation against oppression”. Journal of Future Studies
  • Renata M. Leitão & Lesley-Ann Noel (2022) Special Forum: Designing a World of Many Centers, Design and Culture, 14:3, 247-253, DOI: 10.1080/17547075.2022.2110796
  • van Amstel, F. M., Noel, L. A., & Gonzatto, R. F. (2022). Design, Oppression, and Liberation. Diseña, (21), Intro
  • Noel, L. (2021). “Here’s what we really want your class to be about!”. Design And Technology Education: An International Journal, 26(4), 50-70. Retrieved from
  • van Kampen, S., Galperin, A., Jager, K., Noel, L., and Strube, J. (2022) Where do we go from here? Rethinking the design studio after the Covid-19 pandemic, in Lockton, D., Lenzi, S., Hekkert, P., Oak, A.,Sádaba, J., Lloyd, P. (eds.), DRS2022: Bilbao, 25 June – 3 July, Bilbao, Spain.
  • Noel, L.-A. (2021). Encountering development in social design education: Critical approaches for global social design education. In E. Bohemia, L. M. Nielsen, L. Pan, N. A. G. Z. Börekçi, & Y. Zhang (Eds.), Proceedings of the DRS Learn X Design 2021: 6th International Conference for Design Education Researchers (Vol. 1, pp. 255–263). Design Research Society. doi:10.21606/drs_lxd2021.04.275
  • Noel, L.A, & Paiva, M. (2021). Learning to recognize exclusion. Journal of Usability Studies, 16(2), 63–72
  • Noel, L., Liu, T. L., & Rider, T. R. (2021). Developing Thinking Skills in a 4th Grade Design Studio in Trinidad and Tobago. In Neimann, T., Felix, J. J., Reeves, S., & Shliakhovchuk, E. (Ed.), Stagnancy Issues and Change Initiatives for Global Education in the Digital Age (pp. 15-39). IGI Global. http://doi:10.4018/978-1-7998-4993-3.ch002
  • Noel, L. (2020) Envisioning a pluriversal design education, in Leitão, R., Noel, L. and Murphy, L. (eds.), Pivot 2020: Designing a World of Many Centers – DRS Pluriversal Design SIG Conference, 4 June, held online.
  • Noel, L. (2020, November 17). A Designer Teaches People How to See Others Who Are Not Like Them. Retrieved January 06, 2021, from
  • Noel, L. M. (2020, October 23). Terms of Service: October Edition. Retrieved November 10, 2020, from

Personal Website


BA Industrial Design Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil

MBA University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago

PhD in Design North Carolina State University 2018


View all publications