General education models have traditionally offered undergraduate students broad exposure to multiple disciplines, forming a basis for acquiring intellectual skills and civic sensibilities. Often these models developed into a required core curriculum or a list of distributed courses, serving as a foundation for in-depth study in the major.

The New School initiative is not being called "general education," since that term is associated with these traditional models. Instead, the model imagined here is neither a common core nor a list of required distributed courses but rather comes from the agency of each college in articulating its own means of helping students develop these shared capacities.

Many of the shared capacities that will be discussed in the coming year are already incorporated into students' learning arcs in their colleges and programs. Through the process outlined in the timeline, the university will develop ways for students to gain increasingly complex capacities that can be used and shared across multiple disciplines, before and while they are studying within their major, an experience that will prepare them for life after graduation.

The New School is therefore one of a number of colleges and universities that are now developing innovative structures that scaffold student learning and reflection in integrative and intentional ways. These structures support the major by connecting learning across disciplines, both in and outside of the classroom, and by preparing students for the challenges of the future through a liberal education.

Liberal education is an approach to learning that prepares students to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It emphasizes the development of broad knowledge of the wider world as well as in-depth achievement in one or more specific fields of study. A liberal education helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, strong cross-disciplinary intellectual and practical skills, and an ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings. The New School is therefore beginning the process of developing its own understanding of liberal education. (Find more information about liberal education in this context.)

Check back here for information on upcoming events and additional resources. If you have questions about the process, email the co-chairs of the subcommittee, Joseph Salvatore ( and Adrienne Marcus (

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