Doctor Michelle Catanzaro

Doctor Michelle Catanzaro

DAP - Design, Viscom,

Senior Lecturer in Design,


Michelle is a lecturer in Design, Visual Communication within the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and has taught widely across the Design program. Her teaching philosophy centers on creating a dynamic classroom environment and delivering material grounded in design history and theory with relevance to student’s future practice. Since returning to Western Sydney University in 2015, Michelle has been awarded an Excellence in Teaching Award (2017) and the Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching Award (2017) for her role as co-director in the ‘Rabbit Hole’ Professional Design Studio. She has gained national recognition through the Australian Graphic Design Student Awards that provide the creative industries "with a benchmark of creative excellence to strive for" (AGDA, 2017).

Michelle is also a Research Fellow at the Young and Resilient Research Centre (Y&RRC). Michelle takes a transdisciplinary approach to research, combining visual communication, creative methodologies and cultural geography. Drawing on her practical industry experience, her work is outcome driven, with a focus on creating innovative approaches to engage and connect with young people, industry and the broader community. Michelle co-leads the Places and Platform stream within the Y&RRC where she explores questions surrounding place and identity utilising participatory, digital and visual methods.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Catanzaro.


  • PhD University of Western Sydney
  • BDes(Hons) University of Western Sydney

Professional Memberships

  • International Visual Sociology Association (2017 - 2019)
  • The Westies (2016 - 2022)


  • Vice Chancellors Excellence in Teaching Award 2011-11-01


  • Alternative Cultures
  • Cultural Geography
  • Photography and Design
  • Place and Memory
  • Visual Methodologies

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Design
  • Design


Phone: 5005
(02) 9685 4661
Location: ED.G.56

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Previous Teaching Areas

  • 100947 Design Thinking, 2010
  • 101012 Photomedia, 2010
  • 101013 Publications, 2011
  • 101019 Digital Design Production, 2010
  • 101022 20th Century Design Histories, 2011
  • 101540 Introduction to Typography, 2009
  • 101883 Professional Design Studio, 2015
  • 101923 Australian Design, 2010
  • 102279 Major Design Project, 2015
  • 10698 Reading the Contemporary, 2011
  • 10914 Professional Design Practice, 2012
  • J1757 Design Issues, 2010


Chapters in Books

  • Brooker, C., Catanzaro, M. and Shakespeare, M. (2023), 'A creative workshop model : for understanding climate activism as custodianship of country', Indigenizing Education for Climate Action: Strategies, Case Studies and Testimonios, Space4Innovation .
  • Catanzaro, M. (2014), 'Photography as phenomenology : capturing (my) views of space', Body Tensions: Beyond Corporeality in Time and Space, Inter-Disciplinary Press 9781848882867.

Journal Articles

  • Catanzaro, M. and Collin, P. (2023), 'Kids communicating climate change : learning from the visual language of the SchoolStrike4Climate protests', Educational Review, vol 75, no 1 , pp 9 - 32.
  • Siette, J., Dodds, L., Catanzaro, M. and Allen, S. (2023), '[In Press] To be or not to be : arts-based approaches in public health messaging for dementia awareness and prevention', Australasian Journal on Ageing, .
  • Lehmann-Kuit, A., Short, A. and Catanzaro, M. (2023), '"It's my way of releasing I guess" : a longitudinal, neurodiversity-affirming study sharing the perceptions and collaborative song creations of two autistic former music therapy participants', Australian Journal of Music Therapy, vol 34 , pp 21 - 37.
  • Marrades, R., Collin, P., Catanzaro, M. and Mussi, E. (2021), 'Planning from failure : transforming a waterfront through experimentation in a placemaking living lab', Urban Planning, vol 6, no 1 , pp 221 - 234.
  • Catanzaro, M. and James, E. (2018), 'Multiple place/s : exploring the link between urban politics and rural festival environments', Journal of Place Management and Development, vol 11, no 3 , pp 315 - 334.
  • Deitz, M., Notley, T., Cantanzaro, M., Third, A. and Sandbach, K. (2018), 'Emotion mapping : using participatory media to support young people's participation in urban design', Emotion, Space and Society, vol 28 , pp 9 - 17.
  • Catanzaro, M. (2015), 'Photographic inquiry and the reflective practitioner', Global Media Journal: Australian Edition, vol 9, no 2 .
  • Pink, S., Catanzaro, M., Sandbach, K., Barnes, A., Barnes, A., Mcneill, J., Gusheh, M., Scotece, E. and Catanzaro, C. (2015), 'Making and sharing the commons : reimagaining 'the West' as Riverlands, Sydney through a dialogue between design and ethnography', Global Media Journal: Australian Edition, vol 9, no 2 .
  • Catanzaro, M. (2010), 'Competing spaces : poker machines vs live music', Global Media Journal: Australian Edition, vol 4, no 1 .

Conference Papers

  • Brooker, C., Catanzaro, M., Hodgson, B., Kenke, R., Morgan, C. and Sandbach, K. (2019), 'Not just for show : identity, engagement, and work integrated learning through design graduation exhibitions', Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools. Conference, Melbourne, Vic..
  • Catanzaro, M. (2016), 'Tracing ephemerality : the digital dimensions of alternative cultures', Australian and New Zealand Communication Association Conference, Newcastle, N.S.W..
  • Catanzaro, M. (2013), 'Reclaimed space : mapping urban assemblages in Sydney', Rethinking Urban Inclusion: Spaces, Mobilizations, Interventions, Coimbra, Portugal.


  • 2022, 'Through the Looking Glass: Creating New Visions of Ageing'
  • 2018, 'Mixed Use'
  • 2017, 'IN/SITE'
  • 2016, 'Capturing Disappearance'
  • 2016, 'The Absence of Femininity'

Other Publications

  • 2023, 'MAPIMO', Published Work
  • 2018, 'invisiblecity: Emotion Mapping App', Published Work
  • 2016, 'InWesternSydney', Published Work
  • 2016, 'Temporality: Enrico Scotece', Published Work
  • 2015, 'Invisible City Project Website', Published Work

Michelle’s practice-based research involves photographing urban space, mapping urban geographies and archiving and collating visual imagery. She has published, presented and exhibited on her research nationally and internationally. 

Published works

Catanzaro, M. (2015) (Ed A. Gill & A. Lopes) ‘Photographic inquiry and the reflective practitioner’, Initiating Change By Design (a research symposium, a design research network, and a journal publication). University of Western Sydney: Global Media Journal, 9:2, Australian Edition.

Pink, S., M. Catanzaro, A. Barnes, M. Gusheh, J. Mcneill,  K. Sandbach, and E. Scotece, (2015) ‘Making and sharing the commons in Riverlands Sydney: reimagining ‘the West’ through a dialogue between design, ethnography and theory’ Initiating Change By Design (a research symposium, a design research network, and a journal publication) University of Western Sydney: Global Media Journal 9:2, Australian Edition.

Catanzaro, M. (2014) (Ed Kristy Buccieri). ‘Photography as Phenomenology: Capturing (my) Views of Space’, Body Tensions: Beyond Corporeality in Time and Space. Interdisciplinary Press: United Kingdom. ISBN: 978-1-84888-286-7

Catanzaro, M. (2012) A place to park, A place to Skate?, Curb Magazine. University of Alberta, 2.3

Catanzaro, M. (2010) ‘Competing Spaces: Poker Machines vs Live Music’, Global Media Journal, 1:4, Australian Edition.

Conference Papers and Presentations

Catanzaro, M., Sandback K. (2015) 'Learning Through Community Engagement: The Rabbit Hoel Fourth Year Studio as Design 'Lab'' Designing for Learning Showcase. Western Sydney University, Parramatta, 3/12/15.

Catanzaro, M., Wischmann, K. (2013) ‘In/Visible Urban Contestations: Visual Explorations in Hamburg and Sydney’, Poeticizing the Urban Apparatus. The Centre for Social Innovation: New York, USA.

Catanzaro, M. (2013) ‘The Reflective Practitioner: Me, My Camera and I’, Intersections & Interventions. The University of Western Sydney: Parramatta, Australia. 

Catanzaro, M. (2013) ‘Photography as Phenomenology: Capturing (my) Views of Space’, Time, Space and The Body. Sydney, Australia

Catanzaro, M. (2012) ‘Reclaimed Space’, Rethinking Urban Inclusion: Spaces, Mobilisations, Interventions. University of Coimbra: Coimbra, Portugal

Catanzaro, M. (2011) ‘Temporal Space: An investigation of Sydney’s Irregular Performance Spaces’ Urbanism & Urbanization, Università Iuav: Venice, Italy.

Catanzaro, M. (2011) ‘Sydney’s Alternative Spaces: Same, Same but Different’, Urban Popcultures. Prague, Czech Republic

Catanzaro, M. (2010) ‘Guerrilla Space, the Dynamics of Place’, In and Out of Place. The University of Technology: Sydney, Australia. 

This information has been contributed by Doctor Catanzaro.

Current Projects

Title: New Possibilities: Student Climate Action and Democratic Renewal
  • Australian Research Council (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Philippa Collin and Michelle Catanzaro
Years: 2023-01-01 - 2026-01-01
ID: P00028416

Previous Projects

Title: Smart, Skilled, Hired and Diverse: Co-Designing Youth Unemployment Programs to work for CALD Young People
  • Navitas English Pty Ltd
Western Researchers: Philippa Collin, Michelle Catanzaro and Teresa Swist
Years: 2017-10-27 - 2019-06-26
ID: P00024602
Title: Marina de Valencia Living Lab - An Activation Project
  • Marina de Valencia
Western Researchers: Philippa Collin, Amanda Third and Michelle Catanzaro
Years: 2018-01-15 - 2018-12-14
ID: P00024743
Title: Young and Resilient Living Lab Foundation Project
  • University of Western Sydney
  • Google Australia Pty Ltd
Western Researchers: Amanda Third, Philippa Collin, Liam Magee, Tanya Notley, Louise Crabtree-Hayes, Katrina Sandbach, Michelle Catanzaro, Peter Bansel, Nida Denson and Milissa Deitz
Years: 2016-12-05 - 2018-05-31
ID: P00023561
Title: Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre - YAWCRC - Engaging Creativity Through Technologies P2:P2
  • Department of Industry, Science and Resources (CRC)
Western Researchers: Amanda Third, Kerry Robinson, Nida Denson, Peter Bansel, Tanya Notley, Katrina Sandbach, Michelle Catanzaro and Milissa Deitz
Years: 2013-06-25 - 2016-12-25
ID: P00021345


Previous Supervision

Thesis Title: Experiences of the Inbetween: A phenomenological inquiry into the nature of the relationships of art, craft and design in western and non-western cultures
Field of Research:

Western Sydney University

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