From the Ground Up: New School’s First Ever Earth Week


Sustainable communities. Although the phrase might evoke organic farming, windmills, and compost heaps, cities are in fact at the forefront of the green movement. With unparalleled conservation of energy and other resources, cities like New York are setting the pace for environmentally conscious living.

It’s fitting, then, that The New School, one of the nation’s most prominent urban universities, is also one of its greenest. To celebrate this achievement, The New School community gathers for its first annual Earth Week on April 22’27, 2012.

Earth Week programming is designed to embrace and celebrate the sustainability efforts that students, faculty, and staff have put into effect over the past year,, says Josh Cohen, sustainability coordinator for the Office of Sustainability and Energy Management. By bringing these three groups together, we really have a chance to showcase their efforts.,

Earth Week will kick off on April 22 with the Earth Day Festival, from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Albert and Vera List Academic Center (6 East 16th Street, 6th floor). This event showcases students’ work in design and music and includes Recycled Runway, a Parsons sustainable wear fashion show; Tom Csatari Quintet with Strings, a graduation recital by a BAFA Lang/Jazz senior whose folk-, hip-hop-, and classical-inspired music incorporates environmental sustainability themes; and a Student Project Showcase of green art, and design work.

Events continue throughout the week. In Careers in Sustainability, (April 25 at 6:00 p.m. in the Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor), a panel of alumni from across The New School speak about their experiences forging environmentally conscious careers. Water Fight: A Teach-In on Fracking and Our Energy Future, (April 26 at 6:30 p.m. in Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th Street) brings together a panel of experts and activists to discuss the impact of hydraulic-fracturing natural gas extraction.

Earth Week is such a great opportunity to spotlight all the contributions that The New School is making in the realm of design, policy and thought,, says Gwen Kilvert, assistant director for Sustainability and Energy Management, who led the Earth Week planning efforts.

It’s an impressive set of accomplishments. The university, which established the Office of Sustainability in 2010, was recently named one of the nation’s greenest colleges by The Princeton Review and was honored with a STARS Silver rating by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The New School has also been a leading participant in cross-university programs that promote sustainability, including Mayor Bloomberg’s University Challenge, the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, and the international Talloires Declaration.

But The New School’s development into a green university has never been driven solely by the university administration. Student groups like ReNew School, Students for Sustainable Cities, and the Urban Forestry Club are continuing to raise environmental awareness. And new academic programs like Milano’s master’s degree in sustainability management and urban policy and Parson’s masters in design and urban ecologies offer students cutting-edge training in the intersections of sustainability, business, and design.

Putting it all together, Gwen Kilvert concludes, Earth Week provides The New School with an opportunity to celebrate everyone’s contributions to helping this university become a more sustainable institution, and our role in the global conversation about climate change.,