Alumni Spotlight: Josh Vogel

Josh Vogel

Urban Studies, Class of 2014

Current job:

Gallery Manager, Curator
The Skyscraper Museum

Describe yourself in 3 words

Urbanist, Environmentalist, Brooklynite

What was your favorite class/professor at The New School?

A course called something like New York City Waterways with Rob Buchanan. It was the only summer course I ever took and we would go out and explore Gawanus Canal and meet with different community groups and environmental groups and Rob was amazing. We would go out canoeing in the East River under the Brooklyn Bridge.

I then got involved with a lot of the groups he introduced us to and to this day I still do volunteer water testing every summer. We collect water samples and bring them to this lab on the Hudson River and they test to see how polluted the water is and then publish it so people can see because the city doesn’t really provide that information. And that’s just one of many things I’ve been involved in since that course. I do safety kayaking for Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse.

Are you from New York?

Yes, I’m from Brooklyn Heights.

Did you ever think about going to school anywhere other than New York?

I went to University of Vermont, originally, for Business School. In high school I worked in Real Estate in Red Hook, when it was starting to develop, and I always thought that I wanted to go into business but I hated Business School. I dropped out, moved to California, started to take some classes at UC Berkeley, just signing up for any classes I thought were interesting – that’s how I got into Urban Studies. When I decided to go back full time, if I was going to do Urban Studies, I should be doing it in, in my opinion, the greatest city in the world, and also my home town. So that’s why I moved back to New York.

What was the most important thing you learned in school that prepared you for your current job?

Well,  I got the job through connections I made in school, so that was very valuable. First, I learned to think and ask questions and not just take things for what they are – to really analyze them and not to assume that whatever you’re reading or whatever you’re hearing is right and to ask your own questions. Second, to follow your passion. Just do what you’re passionate about.

What was your favorite thing about going to school in New York?

It’s great to be in the city if you’re doing Urban Studies, just to have the whole city around you. I also just really love the progressive nature of the New School. New York City, too, but especially the New School. 

Compared to other schools in New York, the New School really listens to their students and gives them the freedom to voice themselves and I’ve always loved that.  In Vermont I would have classes with hundreds of kids and you never had a relationship with your professor, but to this day I keep in touch with my professors. I’m going to be speaking in Margarita Gutman’s class this fall and they come to the museum every year for a tour.

*The Skyscraper Museum is always looking for interns and, separate from the museum, Josh heads a social media initiative called NYCUrbanism that you can find here on Facebook and Instagram.

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