Each year, The New School awards honorary degrees to individuals who exemplify the interests and ambitions of the graduating class. As part of our commencement ceremony, celebrated figures are heralded for their unique contributions and formally decreed members of this scholarly community.
This annual tradition creates opportunities to align The New School with those whose careers exemplify our core values. But New School honorary degrees are not intended to follow the patterns of traditional universities. Instead, individuals we select embody the principles of The New School, its commitment to creativity and innovation, and its embrace of interdisciplinary thinking. New School honorees seldom represent one single field; instead we honor those who are distinctive precisely because of their ability to think and work across disciplines, visionaries whose life's work addresses global challenges of the environment, expanding cities, inequality, and the individual's responsibility to engage with the world.
The University in Exile Award commemorates the rescue mission undertaken by The New School in the 1930s and recognizes national or international figures whose actions, public service, or writing have advanced the cause of democracy and human rights. The award focuses attention on the living traditions that have strengthened the university and contributed to a greater public understanding of the close relationship between learning and the struggle for a better world. Past recipients include the Russian democratic leader Galina Starovoitova; Dogu Ergil, the Turkish human rights activist; Yuri Kochiyama, the American civil rights activist, who was a leader in the movement to redress the injustices done to Japanese Americans interned during World War II; Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Egyptian human rights and democracy activist; five Cuban dissidents-Oswaldo Payá, Vladimiro Roca Antunez, Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello, Raúl Rivero Castañeda, and Oscar Elías Biscet González; Israeli/Palestinian Peace Activists Ami Ayalon and Sari Nusseibeh; human rights activist group from Argentina, The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo; human rights activist from Iran, Shirin Ebadi; and Polish women's rights activist, Wanda Nowicka.