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Message from the Dean

  • IMG - Message from the Dean

    Welcome to the New School for Social Research, where you come not just to study but to absorb a world and an ethos of challenging academic orthodoxy and asking big questions about society.


    The New School for Social Research is a graduate school with a distinctive intellectual tradition that thrives on public debate and cultivates academic rigor. Its small programs encourage close collaboration between students and professors.

    The New School for Social Research has always had the characteristic of being both intimate and worldly, as evidenced by passionate discussions in courses and corridors; engagement with the political and cultural life of New York City; and participation in popular and academic institutions around the world.

    Tradition

    We recently celebrated the 80th anniversary of the University in Exile, which was the foundation of The New School for Social Research. The University in Exile was founded in 1933 as a home for a small group of distinguished German scholars fleeing Nazism. Their goal was to continue and expand their intellectual engagement, to mentor future generations of scholars, and to pursue academic research and publication.

    The roots of our graduate school can be traced further back, to 1919, with the founding of The New School, a forward-looking institution started by progressive and pragmatist educators who pursued a “new” audience and a “new” model for higher education. Their mission was to offer courses to working people from all walks of life, based on the conviction that public debate was essential to an open society and that learning should not be limited by the boundaries of an academic institution.

    Today’s New School for Social Research is a remarkable product of the original New School and the University in Exile. We embrace both political scientist Charles Beard’s 1919 insistence on “an impartial and open-minded consideration of present difficulties” and Hannah Arendt’s 1971 plea that scholars avoid standard ideas “which have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality.”

    Big Research Questions

    Our faculty is united by a sense of the importance of boldly questioning conventional thinking and expanding the boundaries of social thought—from James Miller’s writings on the relation between philosophers’ lives and their ideas and Miriam Ticktin’s scrutiny of humanitarianism in migration policy to Bill Hirst’s investigations of the problems of memory, to mention just a few.

    Faculty continue to publish important books and to engage in dialogue in popular media. Some brief but notable examples include books published in 2014 by Federico Finchelstein (The Dirty War, Oxford University Press), Janet Roitman (Anti-Crisis, Duke University Press), and Dmitri Nikulin (Comedy, Seriously, Palgrave Macmillan), and newspaper columns by Simon Critchley (The New York Times) and Teresa Ghilarducci (The Huffington Post).

    Recently the New School opened the Center for Capitalism Studies. The center will provide a space for faculty and students to investigate capitalism in its historical context and from the perspectives of economics, policy, ethics, culture, media, and the visual arts. Their work will expand our understanding of how capitalism informs political, technological, and creative actions in the modern world. With support of the Mellon Foundation, the New School for Social Research has just launched a new research center, the Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography and Social Thought, bringing doctoral students and faculty and visiting scholars together to examine these intersections.

    As dean of The New School for Social Research, I am honored to lead this great graduate school of social sciences. I am passionate about the intellectual energy and scholarly productivity generated by our faculty and students, our traditions and history as well as our future. I look forward to you joining our scholarly, productive, and nurturing community at The New School for Social Research.

    - William Milberg, Dean

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