A LEGACY OF NEW
“The New School’s founding in 1919 represented a break from the conservatism of higher education at that time,” says Tim Marshall, the university’s Provost and Chief Academic Officer. “We were set up as intentionally interdisciplinary, decades before this became fashionable. It’s in the DNA and is the reason for our name. We live, die or thrive by our ability to remain relevant.”
Throughout its history, The New School has remained at the cutting edge of higher education. It launched many new degrees that are the first of their kind; it taught design thinking as an approach to solving complex problems long before anyone thought to call it that; and it created interdisciplinary pathways for students to translate their groundbreaking ideas into reality.
A FORCE FOR CREATIVITY
The university of 10,000 incredibly diverse students and faculty has been built through both internal development and the integration of previously independent schools, such as the renowned Parsons School of Design and the Mannes School of Music. Today, the five schools at the main campus in New York City – along with a branch campus in Paris – focus on design, liberal and performing arts, social research, and professional graduate programs in policy, international affairs, innovative approaches to management, and media studies. This comprehensive, interdisciplinary framework continues The New School’s commitment to being a pioneering force for scholarship, creativity, social justice, and technological innovation well into the 21st century.
“We look at things through a lens that’s different from the one dominating the discourse on emerging technologies and practices,” says Marshall. “We’re focusing on the human dimension of the profound changes taking place in the world today.”
The university is breaking down the barriers of traditional degree structures to provide learning opportunities that go far beyond simple interdisciplinary collaboration. Co-curricular learning initiatives like Impact Entrepreneurship exist outside of the formal structure of degree programmes and provide useful context for educational innovation. The New School also has external relationships and agreements with institutions across the US and abroad, alliances that lead to new kinds of teaching and learning.
“There’s a repeated theme connecting much of what we do,” says Marshall, “which is that these professional and academic pursuits, carried out in a mostly isolated way they during the 20th century, are not sufficient. They don’t provide the capacity to act on the major issues that we are confronting.” The recent relaunch of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility demonstrates The New School’s unique curricular relevancy. Already working with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and the International Rescue Committee, the institute is founded on social research while drawing upon the skills of faculty and students in the performing arts, design and journalism.
This approach underlines what can be achieved if you are prepared to break outside the boundaries of a single discipline. Students launch ventures, direct projects, run organisations, consult and lead meaningful lives that contribute to building a more inclusive global economy. “If you just want to study the course of events, that is fine,” says Marshall. “But, if you really want to influence the course of events, you have to bring a lot more to the table. It’s one thing to say it, or to do it in isolated centres, but it’s far more complex to have it as the logic of the entire university.”