Q&A with Assistant Professor Leah Scolere

Leah Scolere recently moved to Fort Collins from Ithaca, NY after completing her Ph.D. in the Department of Communication at Cornell University with a minor in history of architecture and urban development. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked as a practicing designer at the leading architecture and design firm, Gensler, where she created human-centered workplace environments, provided design strategy, and designed a range of services and brand experiences. She’s elated to have the opportunity to return to Colorado with her husband Zeb and their dog Reykja. Learn more about Scolere’s position and research below.

What brought you to CSU and this department specifically?Leah Scolere
This is a very exciting time to be coming to Colorado State University with the new Richardson Design Center being developed as a hub for design. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to advancing design research, as well as teaching on campus and among broader communities as a part of the Richardson Design Center.  More specifically, the Design and Merchandising Department stood out for its interdisciplinary approach to design. The innovative research and teaching in the department is very impressive. Seeing the interdisciplinary research of faculty such as Dr. Laura Malinin helped me to envision how my own research at the intersection of communication technologies and design might flourish here at CSU. Finally, coming from a land-grant institution, the land-grant mission of CSU appealed to my commitment to public engagement through design.

What are your specific research interests, and how did you get into that topic?
I’m particularly passionate about pursuing research at the boundaries of design and communication. My professional design experiences inspired me to think critically about the theoretical approaches that may inform the processes, practices, and digital tools of designers. As a scholar-practitioner, my interdisciplinary focus exists at the intersection of design, communication technologies, and the built environment. My research focuses on socially-mediated design. This involves the ways in which designers develop their reputations across social media platforms, as well as how design culture and discourse about creative professions are mediated through digital distribution platforms. This work contributes to a broader understanding about the future of work amidst an increasingly independent and entrepreneurial employment market, and has practical implications for teaching students about communicating their work in the era of social media.
A related strand of research focuses on the design and user experience of media spaces­ which involves the ways in which interactive technologies are experienced in the built environment. For example, I continue to explore how technologically driven, interactive design interventions can impact socio-spatial relationships in workplace environments.

What’s your teaching philosophy?
I have over six years of teaching experience as a studio instructor and lecturer, teaching both design studios and media communication courses. The classroom is a ‘design lab’ where we can experiment not only around assignments and ideas, but also around the notion of pedagogy. Core to my teaching philosophy is facilitating an environment where students reason critically, create innovative human-centered work, and push the boundaries of their creative intellect. My dedication to student teaching and learning extends beyond the classroom. I believe that mentoring is about helping students envision their future selves, whether that is in professional practice, research, community, or entrepreneurial endeavors. I’m looking forward to teaching a course on 3D communication for designers.

What’s your favorite thing about campus?
I love the interplay of history and future thinking that is especially visible in the building architecture and new construction on campus. The energy of the students is invigorating and I’m so excited to be a part of the contagious school spirit around the new stadium! Go Rams!

The Department of Design and Merchandising is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.