Sarah Lichtman took a circuitous route to her present position as a professor in Parsons' MA History of Decorative Arts and Design and MA Design Studies programs. After holding a variety of jobs in the New York art world, including one at the Museum of Modern Art, Lichtman opened a successful midcentury modern design store in Brooklyn. Her love of design led her to pursue a master's degree and a doctorate in design studies and then to teach at Parsons.
"I love interacting with students," Lichtman says. "Every time I teach a course, it's new because of what the students bring to the table and how they respond to the material."
In addition to teaching, Lichtman is helping to develop the curriculum of the new MA Design Studies program. "Design Studies complements the other graduate programs at Parsons—both MA Fashion Studies and MA History of Decorative Arts and Design," says Lichtman. Students in these master's programs will be able to take courses in any of the three, exploring subjects as deeply or broadly as they like.
Lichtman drew on her own research in creating courses such as Cold War Modern, which focuses on design from the end of World War II until the fall of the Berlin Wall and its pivotal role in challenging the political and social ideas of the era. She also developed one of the core courses in Parsons' School of Art and Design History and Theory, a survey of design from the mid-19th through the 20th century that explores the field from social, cultural, political, and economic standpoints, examining issues such as gender, race, and class.
"Considering multiple points of views is central to my teaching philosophy," says Lichtman. "I try to bring in varying perspectives—those of designers, producers, and consumers—and study the life cycles of objects, from production to consumption to disposal. Ultimately, teaching is about providing designers and design scholars with methods to situate their ideas and implement change in the real world."