Some examples of innovative teaching at The New School are listed below. If you would like to add a course to this list, please email
In this course, students will have the opportunity to develop social entrepreneurial ventures to give low-income communities access to affordable, locally grown food. To successfully bring about the intended outcomes, solutions proposed by students need to be properly designed, scalable, and show the potential of being replicable. Based on insights taken from the positive and negative outcomes of Corbin Hill Road Farm (www.corbinhillfarm.com) and other initiatives to address the needs of low-income communities, this course challenges students to formulate social ventures that address one of the following aspects affecting access to affordable fresh produce in low-income communities: transportation costs, community organizing, scalability, creation of a cold chain, and access to financing.
Offered by The Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School for Public Engagement.
Popular social networking sites have evolved exponentially in the past few years, alongside Internet- savvy grassroots organizations like MoveOn.org. The course outlines the recent history of MoveOn.org, Code Pink, Facebook, YouTube, and Second Life (virtual activism) and the viral nature of Internet trends. What happens when corporate entities enter social networks on the Internet? What is the link between viral marketing and social change? Questions about the nature of the “collective generosity” mindset inherent in millennial offerings like Wikipedia are examined, with an eye to mapping global resource and information networks to include the most disenfranchised of global citizens. How can the activist potential of the Internet be used to address global warming, poverty, and political injustice?
Offered by the School of Undergraduate Studies at The New School for Public Engagement.
This interdisciplinary course offers students the opportunity to gain an understanding of key concepts and skills essential to become global consultants for small business enterprises focusing on women's empowerment and community development through design. The course will prepare students to support artisan or other community groups by developing sustainable business models through needs-based capacity building, product and project design and development, and by establishing networks of collaboration. In the summer, students may travel to Guatemala (or another project location) for the month of June/July to work directly with the groups of artisan women.
Offered by Parsons The New School for Design and The Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School for Public Engagement.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a critical topic in the debate about the future, as citizens, governments, advocacy organizations, and corporations themselves grapple with the role of companies in relation to a wide range of concerns, including environmental sustainability and global climate change; globalization and outsourcing; labor practices and policies; consumer preferences; social entrepreneurship; work-life balance; the international geopolitical influence of corporations; and the opportunity for businesses to “change the world” into a better place through their resources. This course offers students an opportunity to understand the spectrum of varied corporate stances on the issue of social responsibility, the evolution of the concept of CSR, international variation in CSR philosophy, and current research on the influence and possible future directions of CSR. Students explore and understand theories of Corporate Social Responsibility, analyze motivations for and effectiveness of CSR using those theory frameworks, and review perspectives on the relationship of CSR to current social and economic issues.
Offered by The Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School for Public Engagement.
This seminar explores creative DIY (do-it-yourself) cultures of hacking, tinkering, and inventive practices from crafts and electronics to digital media production, networked design collaboration, and participatory learning. We examine the pedagogical ideas of critical literacy by Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal; child-centered experiential learning by Jean Piaget; psychology of play and imagination by Vygotsky; constructionist learning by Seymour Papert; and participatory cultures by Henry Jenkins. Students will then explore diverse DIY practices as forms of cultural, political or subversive expression, including amateur/pirate radio, punk and rave subcultures, mash-ups, as well as DIY design and open source programming. We consider the nature of emerging networked DIY communities and maker/hacker spaces, and their role in creating new forms of cultural production, participatory learning, and civic agency. As part of a semester-long project combining theory and practice students are encouraged to investigate (and participate in) a specific DIY community or maker space to develop critical reflection or propose new pedagogical concepts and design platforms that support creative DIY cultures.
Offered by The New School for Public Engagement.
Graphic design is an effective tool for rallying people to join political causes or raise their consciousness about social issues. The course analyzes the effectiveness of different strategies and various techniques found in historical and contemporary printed matter, films, websites, blogs and social networks. Examining the visual and verbal content of angry, bold, in-your-face graphics or the more subtle subversive dissent that uses humor and irony, we also consider if such graphics can successfully cross cultural and national boundaries. We study how branding and marketing techniques and the ethics of designing for governments, organizations or businesses that promote causes, work or do not work as a catalyst for change. As the voices of dissent continue to spread globally, understanding how communication design did and continues to impact society is more important than ever.
Offered by Parsons The New School for Design.
In a series of lectures that will include a global roster of guest speakers and Parsons' own world-famous faculty, we will explore the new space of Design and Ethnography. We will examine global Gen Y youth cultures of China, India, the US, Latin America and Europe; women’s cultures; street cultures; urban cultures; and, of course, digital cultures. We will have speakers from top innovation and design consultancies such as IDEO, ZIBA Design, fuseprojects, Continuum, and Smart Design. We will bring in the top trend spotting analysts, from fashion houses to cell phone makers (Nokia). And we will invite young artists to tell their stories—how they see and hear and translate that into their art. Readings will include books, blogs, biographies, websites and videos. The course will be a collaboration, not a lecture series. Speakers will interact with the students at each presentation and students will be asked to form small teams to do their own ethnographic research and develop a design brief for something new, exciting and useful.
The Design Workshop offers students direct experience by working with clients to determine their needs and devise and implement solutions. With faculty guidance, students complete the design and construction, from schematics to punch-list, of a project for a nonprofit organization. See
examples of past projects.
This course is an exploration of emergent private or market-based responses to social and environmental challenges, such as corporate responsibility, social entrepreneurship, social capital markets, and venture philanthropy.
This class is normally offered in the fall semester.
Widely regarded as the engine of economic growth, the entrepreneur has become the most important player in the modern economy—or so the story goes. Sociologists, economists, historians, and anthropologists have examined a variety of social conditions in which entrepreneurship arises in both its individual and corporate forms, expanding our understanding of entrepreneurship and of its inherent contradictions. The major assignment for the course is a group project documenting an entrepreneurial activity in New York City.
Open to undergraduate students. Offered by Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts and The New School for Public Engagement.
This seminar interrogates the category of fashion through various cross-cultural examples of "innovation" in dress, body ornamentation, and clothesmaking by asking what are the cultural assumptions underlining popular beliefs about social innovation in fashion. In exploring this question, the course combines readings on the embodiment of aesthetic and material practices with cross-cultural studies that examine a range of institutional sites where bodies are fragmented, commodified, and fashioned. Central to this effort are questions about power, ideology, and moral quandaries arising from both the production and consumption of wearable forms.
This course focuses on the financial experiences of low-income people, especially women, in the US and internationally. The first segment of the course lays a foundation for why it is important to look at poverty, economic development, and financial literacy through a gendered lens. We will also familiarize ourselves with the asset building literature and discuss how this way of thinking about individuals' financial well-being constitutes a departure from traditional urban poverty frameworks, which tend to focus on income. We will spend some time understanding the extent to which traditional financial institutions (such as banks) and strategies serve (or do not serve) this group. We will look at relevant recent trends, such as the rise of fringe financial services that include check cashers and payday lenders. We will also examine alternative financial strategies, such as microenterprise development and individual development accounts (IDAs) that serve low-income people differently, and study best practices from the US and abroad. Throughout the course, we will discuss policy interventions that could create a better environment for asset building and ownership. The course requires no prerequisite knowledge of economics or finance.
Students work with social enterprises to address organizational challenges or with organizations that are supporting social entrepreneurs.
This course is normally offered in the spring semester by The Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School for Public Engagement.
Entrepreneurs moving beyond the startup phase of their businesses face both opportunities and challenges. This course focuses on building a business organization capable of managing and sustaining growth. Entrepreneurs need to operationalize their organizations (i.e., get the right people and systems in place), motivate their teams, manage limited resources (human and financial), and ensure cash flow. While perfecting their product or service and developing customer loyalty, new businesses must constantly improve and innovate as well as attract new customers. Successful entrepreneurs also need to establish and communicate a culture and value system for their businesses, creating a solid foundation for the future. Students work with social enterprises to address organizational challenges or with organizations that are supporting social entrepreneurs.
This course is offered by the School of Undergraduate Studies at The New School for Public Engagement..
Governments and civil society organizations have often stepped in where private finance has feared to go. Governments have set up institutions (e.g., development banks, postal savings banks), as have community institutions (e.g., savings and credit cooperatives, microfinance institutions) to provide financing for priority sectors (e.g., agriculture) or populations (e.g., poor people, women). Governments have also made policies to encourage or force private financial institutions to provide the specific services to priority sectors or populations. Nevertheless, unserved and underserved populations continue to rely heavily on informal mechanisms for at least some financial services (moneylenders, rotating savings and credit associations). This course will examine public and civil society efforts to sustainably and effectively expand access to financial services for social and developmental priority purposes. It will look at issues of demand and supply, and at actual and desirable policies. It will ask students to debate controversial issues, of which there are many in this field and few with easy answers. The focus will be on institutions and policies in developing countries, although the rich experience of developed countries will also be germane.
What makes something truly new or original? How do you spot opportunities to create new things, services, or experiences? How do you determine whether an innovation would actually be a good thing? What is the history of innovation and how are innovative ideas and practices integrated into cultural practices? This course explores classic texts on entrepreneurship and innovation while also considering the role of the artist and designer as an agent of change and the nature and promise of technology in the creation of our possible future(s).
The course is organized around the key themes of defining social entrepreneurship and the social entrepreneurial process; reflecting on the role and characteristics of social entrepreneurs and one's personal perspective as a changemaker; understanding approaches to develop innovative and scalable solutions; and developing sustainable high-impact organizations. The course includes theory and practice and combines lectures, peer support and learning, case work, and visits by experts.
Sustainability has been elevated to a key driver for business today. A number of organizations, large and small, are now creating and implementing strategies that address critical environmental and social issues while delivering value to a range of stakeholders. The main objectives of this course are twofold. First, we explore the contextual framework for sustainability leadership in terms of policy, environmental and social trends, stakeholder expectations, and competitiveness. Second, we explore the practical tools, technologies, tactics, and communication necessary to lead a robust strategy for sustainability. Through case studies, analysis, discussion, and presentations by practitioners, we examine the complicated factors that leaders (both individuals and teams) must consider. We examine organizations leading the way in sustainability, look at the lessons learned from successes and failures, and identify some of the most critical factors for successful leadership when developing and executing strategy.
This course provides students with concrete skills to aid in effecting community change through leadership intervention. Leadership interventions consist of a wide range of activities: raising consciousness or building support around an issue, implementing a program, or any initiative that requires the mobilization of multiple stakeholders. Students may focus on communities that have common characteristics as individuals (e.g., people with disabilities), as residents of a particular place or neighborhood, or as members of an institution (e.g., a specific government or nonprofit agency).