The New School Celebrates its Centennial
Since it opened its doors in 1919 and through every succeeding era, The New School has challenged convention, promoted social justice, and has been a beacon for those fleeing oppression. The university has always been a dynamic center for scholars, artists, and activists. Now as the university’s centennial officially begins, there will be a yearlong celebration honoring its legacy of academic freedom, tolerance, and free intellectual exchange, as it looks ahead to the next century.
Throughout 2019, The New School will be commemorating the university’s distinctive academic and cultural contributions through a compelling array of programs, exhibitions, and musical performances.
“A century ago, The New School’s founders were among the first to recognize that contemporary higher education must have a global perspective. Our academic vision is more vital and relevant than ever in the 21st Century, where political, economic and cultural discourse take place on a global scale,” said David E. Van Zandt, president of The New School. “As we mark the university’s Centennial, we have much to be proud of and much to build on. The New School is an extraordinary university, a community ready for any challenge, because of the people who choose to learn, teach, and work here.”
In its earliest days, the university envisioned a different educational paradigm, enrolling 549 students in courses ranging from political economy and industrial organization– to public law and women in the modern social order. In 1933, as Hitler was rising to power, Alvin Johnson, president of The New School, established the University in Exile as a haven for more than 180 European intellectuals and their families threatened by Nazism during World War Two. This tradition was revitalized in 2018, as scholars and dissidents are once again threatened by authoritarian regimes. The New University in Exile Consortium brings together a growing group of 11 colleges and universities across the United States to provide space and resources to endangered scholars from around the world.
Over the decades, The New School has redrawn and redefined the boundaries of intellectual and creative thought, broadening its offerings to become the only university with a world-renowned, comprehensive design school surrounded by strong social sciences, humanities, and the performing arts.
“Throughout our history, the brightest and most original minds have brought their intellectual and creative talents to The New School,” said Provost Tim Marshall. “We have always been a university committed to understanding the human condition and contributing to the human experience through social progress and civic engagement. As we enter our second century, I am proud of The New School and the extraordinary possibilities for learning, innovation, and creative energy. I look forward to forging the next chapter in our history through daring and rigorous forms of research, teaching, innovation and, creative practice.”
Today, the university is a vibrant community of 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students with more than 130 degree programs and extensive non-degree offerings. Coinciding with the Centennial, The New School announced the public phase of its $250 million New Century Campaign, the university’s largest to date.
Celebrating the Centennial
The Centennial programs begin in January and continue throughout the year. Among the many events planned, the university will present Liberalism and Democracy: Past, Present, Prospects, a two day forum taking place from February 7 – 8 that examines the prospects for liberal democracies against the backdrop of the historical and contemporary tensions between democracy and liberalism. A special screening of the Academy Award-nominated documentary, I Am Not Your Negro, about the life of James Baldwin, will take place on March 7. Directed by The New School’s 2019 Hirshon Artist-in-Residence Raoul Peck, the film “is an evocation of a passionate soul in a tumultuous era,” (Wall Street Journal). Later in the spring, The New School’s Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility will host a conference honoring the 30th anniversary of the Aristide Zolberg book, Escape from Violence: Conflict and the Refugee Crisis in the Developing World. In addition, notable alumni and key university partners will participate in a variety of Centennial festivities. A regularly updated schedule of events can be found at newschool.edu/100.
In the fall, the Centennial celebration will culminate with the week-long, interactive Festival of NEW, conceived and designed by The New School community. It will be a week of performances, workshops, talks and exhibitions, bringing together the rich academic and cultural offerings to imagine what’s possible in the next 100 years. The vibrant programming will explore the concept of the “new”— what it has meant historically, what it means today, and how it may influence the future.
The Festival of NEW will run from October 1 – 6, 2019. This milestone in the university’s history will also be commemorated in a new book, created in partnership with Profile Books. Written by New School faculty member John Reed, the book traces The New School’s history as a unique force of change through the individual stories of our community members over the last 100 years.
Learn more about The New School’s history and vibrant community via the animated video located at newschool.edu/100, produced in collaboration with B-Reel—a global strategy, creative and technology agency. The video is narrated by Singer-Songwriter Ani DiFranco, a notable New School alumna.