Newly established Tishman Environment and Design Center to develop curriculum andDesign-based research initiatives focused on the intersection of the environment and society
Architect Joel Towers Appointed Director and Associate Provost for Environmental Studies

NEW YORK, January 23, 2006 – The New School has announced the establishment of the Tishman Environment and Design Center, a major education and research initiative in the field of environmental studies. The center, officially launched in January 2006, will build an undergraduate curriculum in environmental and allied sciences and support cross-disciplinary, long-term research projects. The university has appointed Joel Towers, an architect and educator, as the director of the center and the associate provost of environmental studies for the university. Towers formerly served as director of sustainable design at Parsons The New School for Design, and will continue to serve on the faculty of Parsons, which has been a leader in curricular and programmatic initiatives linking environmental concerns with innovative design.
“In a democratic society, we have an obligation as citizens to be environmentally literate in order to participate in some of the great debates of our time and to affect change on a local and global scale,” said New School President Bob Kerrey. “Through the Tishman Environment and Design Center, undergraduate students will receive a core education in environmental studies, with the opportunity on both the undergraduate and graduate levels to contribute to research projects and earn degrees in the field. I am pleased that we can build on the efforts already underway at Parsons to launch a university-wide program in environmental studies.”

Made possible through the support of New School Trustee John L. Tishman, the Tishman Environment and Design Center draws upon the strengths of several divisions, including most significantly: Parsons The New School for Design, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, The New School for Social Research, and The New School’s graduate program in International Affairs. The center will also take advantage of the resources offered through global initiatives such as the India China Institute, which was established by the university in 2004 to foster study, research and connections among India, China and the United States.

“The New School is in a unique position to leverage existing areas of academic excellence in design, the social sciences and public policy to shape future leaders in the field of environmental studies,” said Arjun Appadurai, New School provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “The Tishman Environment and Design Center is a direct outgrowth of an emerging focus on the environment across the university. As a progressive institution, we are committed to tackling important global issues with a cross-disciplinary focus.”

The center will support design-led research alongside historical and social inquiry that places an emphasis on innovation within the context of cultural, economic, and ecological factors. It will firmly establish environmental literacy as central to an undergraduate education at The New School, with new curriculum developed in collaboration with Lang College, Parsons, and The New School for Social Research. The center will bring together core faculty across the university to teach and develop cross-disciplinary programs; as well as work with the New School divisions to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field and facilitate faculty and post-doctoral research.

“One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Tishman Environment and Design Center will be the critical role of design,” said Joel Towers, director of the center. “Design and design processes will be central to how we structure research, imagine possible future scenarios, and construct specific interventions that address the limits of human adaptation to a changing environment. The goal is to stimulate innovative research, develop viable solutions to ecological degradation, and have that flow back to the school through teaching.”

Prior to his appointment, Towers served as the director of Sustainable Design and Urban Ecology at Parsons, and previously taught at the City University of New York and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. As a partner and co-founder of Sislian Rothstein and Towers Architects, he has more than 15 years experience in environmentally sensitive design, urban environmental design, and the relationship between large-scale environmental change and the built environment. Towers holds a B.S. in Architecture from the University of Michigan (1987) and a Master of Architecture from Columbia University (1990).


Located in the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village, The New School is a center of academic excellence where intellectual and artistic freedoms thrive. The 8,800 matriculated students and 10,000 continuing education students who attend the university’s eight schools enjoy a disciplined education supported by small class sizes, superior resources, and renowned working faculty who practice what they teach. Artists, scholars, and students from all walks of life attend its diverse programs and can earn everything from program certificates to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. When The New School was founded in 1919, its mission was to create a place where global peace and justice were more than theoretical ideals. Today, The New School continues that mission and endeavors to foster worthy and just citizens of the world. The eight schools that make up The New School are: The New School for General Studies, The New School for Social Research, Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, Parsons The New School for Design, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, Mannes College The New School for Music, The New School for Drama, and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. For more information about the university, please visit