Graduate Fellowships for the 2018-19 Mellon Sawyer Seminar ” Imaginative Mobilities”

DEADLINE: February 20, 2018

Much of the debate on borders – both academically and politically – has revolved around a dichotomy: whether they should be open, or closed. The Imaginative Mobilities seminar will shift the discussion away from the frame of open or closed borders, to re-imagine the meaning and design of borders. Starting with the concepts of mobility and immobility across political spaces, we will attend to different kinds of movement and to the way movement and space are co-constructed. In particular, the seminar will open migration and border studies debates by bringing art and design into conversation with contemporary social research.

With the dual goals of intervening in current debates on borders and serving as a pilot for collaborative work at the intersection of design and social research, the seminar sessions will follow very different formats over the course of the year. Field trips, invited guests, and design workshops all will be used to reimagine the mobility/ immobility of humans, non-humans, capital, commodities and things, and the ways they move in relation to one another. The seminar will be led by five New School faculty: Alex Aleinkoff, Victoria Hattam, and Miriam Ticktin from the New School for Social Research and Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby from Parsons School of Design.  Seminar participants will include faculty from across the university as well as advanced graduate students in art and design and the social sciences.  The seminar will be supported administratively by the Zolberg Institute for Mobility and Migration.

The Sawyer Seminar will award two substantial Doctoral Research Fellowships and four Graduate Fellowships. In return, all fellows commit to participating in regular seminar sessions throughout the academic year (approximately 4 times per semester), 2 design workshops, and to engage actively with the work of visiting seminar guests, among other things. We particularly welcome applications from candidates whose work will benefit from and contribute to the Sawyer Seminar’s cross-disciplinary and collaborative environment. All students must be in residence throughout the academic year. All stipends are subject to taxation.

The 2018-19 Sawyer Seminar Doctoral Research Fellowship. As part of the year-long Mellon-Foundation funded Sawyer Seminar, The New School will award two doctoral students fellowships designed to free up time for focused research. Each will receive a $25,000 stipend for the 2018–2019 academic year. Doctoral students who are in good academic standing are welcome to apply at all stages: either during their coursework, exam prep or when they have advanced to candidacy and are writing their dissertations. Students who have just been accepted into PhD programs but who have not yet started can also apply. We will select doctoral fellows according to the quality of the proposed research and its relevance to the seminar’s key themes; in addition, selection will take into account the openness of the proposed project to cross-disciplinary dialogue. We would like fellows to be open to engaging with forms of design, and working beyond critique to imagine new possible worlds. Doctoral fellows will be required to lead out several sessions of the seminar.

The 2018-19 Sawyer Seminar Graduate Fellows Program. In addition to the Doctoral Research Fellowships, The New School will award research funds to four graduate students (NSSR PhD students, or MFA/MA/MS at Parsons or SPE). Each will receive a $3125 for the 2018–2019 academic year. While expertise in the theme areas is certainly a bonus, it is not necessary; for these fellowships, we are looking for students who are open to learning and engaging across the fields of social research and design, with an interest in speculation and imagining new worlds. Strong visual skills are a plus. In conjunction with these funds, there will be several positions for Research Assistantships with the Sawyer seminar; if you would like to be considered for these as well, please indicate that on your application.

Please submit:

  • A cover page including the following information: your name, email address, New School department, a project abstract of 1500 characters, and the names and contact details of two departmental referees.
  • A two-page research proposal that states the aims, conceptual basis, methodology, and significance and the proposed project; that clearly articulates its connections to the Sawyer Seminar. Parsons design students will need to submit samples of their design work, either a website link or a pdf.
  • A one-page project bibliography.
  • A curriculum vitae.
  • Current New School transcript.

Please send these documents by midnight 20 February to with the subject line “Sawyer Seminar Graduate Fellowship Application.”