The news that 2014 ranks as the warmest year, worldwide, in recorded history points to a reality that is becoming increasingly impossible to ignore: climate change is real and its effects have dire implications for the planet.
Driven by its mission to confront real-world problems through bold and creative solutions, The New School is tackling this crisis head on. This year, the university will pursue a comprehensive plan to address climate change, including a full divestment of fossil fuels.
“The New School has a long history of engaging in and offering creative solutions to society’s most pressing issues,” New School President David Van Zandt says. “Climate change, the effects of which are already being felt by our most vulnerable populations, is one of the greatest challenges we we face in the 21 century. With our formidable talents in design and the social sciences, this new plan sets the course for our leadership in the field.”
Sparked by New School students, faculty and alumni on The New School’s Paris and New York City campuses, the plan includes an expansion of the already diverse catalogue of curriculum options for university students on the environment and climate justice. At its heart is the recently launched Tishman Environment and Design Center, a facility that will foster the integration of design strategies and creative social and ecological approaches to environmental issues.
The campaign for fossil fuel divestment was hatched in 2013, when the University Student Senate presented several resolutions to The New School’s Board of Trustees in support of divestment. Since then, students in collaborations with university leadership have been raising awareness on the issue through a series of public events across campus.
“Everyone in this generation is very aware of what the future is going to look like, and they are very aware of the crises and challenges ahead of us,” said New School alumnus Ben Silverman, Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management ’14, a former co-chair of the Student Senate who helped spearhead the divestment campaign. “This is our future, our lives we’re fighting for. This is a small part of what I can do within this larger movement.”
Silverman noted that, in recent years, The New School has taken robust action on climate change, including participation in the People’s Climate March in September 2014, a history-making demonstration of which the university was an official leader and endorser; and the construction of the University Center, an LEED Gold–rated facility that boasts industry-leading solutions to curbing energy use.
“Divestment is something the university can do to make a big public statement on climate change,” Silverman said.
Teaching, research, and community engagement leading to sustainable climate solutions are core values of The New School. For updates, visit Tishman Environment and Design Center.
Community involvement is essential to the Climate Action Plan’s success. Mark your calendars for April 22, Earth Day, for the official launch of TEDC and a continuation of this important discussion.