Najla Mouchrek, Collegiate Assistant Professor
Najla Mouchrek is a collegiate assistant professor in the Honors College, where she teaches and conducts research about transdisciplinary collaboration and communication around complex problems and global challenges. Designer and scholar with an interdisciplinary PhD focused on participatory design applied to education and youth empowerment (Virginia Tech) and a M.F.A. in Design, Innovation, and Sustainability (State University of Minas Gerais, Brazil), Najla is interested in investigating cultural and social aspects of sustainability and exploring the potential of design-based methodologies to create community and co-creation dynamics among diverse actors in processes of change toward sustainable futures.
After a 17-year career working in communication and graphic design for public universities in Brazil, Najla worked for four years in Academic Affairs at Virginia Tech as a designer supporting student-centered initiatives and systemic change strategies. More recently, she served for two years in Student Affairs as the inaugural assistant dean for interfaith leadership and holistic development. In this role, she applied human centered design to develop structures for inclusion and collaboration among people from diverse worldviews and cultural backgrounds.
Najla earned her doctorate of philosophy from Virginia Tech in 2019, being the first graduate in the Individualized Interdisciplinary PhD Program. She developed a theoretical model of empowerment in emerging adulthood, a survey about empowering experiences in college, and a semester-long career exploration curriculum for undecided first-year students. She presented in conferences and published in interdisciplinary fields like design, education, human development, sustainability, and community development. She also participated in projects with multidisciplinary teams both in Brazil and in the U.S. A summary of publication and projects can be found in her website.
Najla grew up in Brazil and earned her bachelor’s degree in Social Communication from the Federal University of Minas Gerais and her master’s degree in Design, Innovation, & Sustainability from the State University of Minas Gerais, both in her home country.