New School News

The New School Receives $9.125 Million from the Arnhold Foundation to Advance Research on Global Challenges

A global pandemic, climate-induced migration, the evolving relationship between democracy and systems design in health and technology — many current social phenomena are international in scope and closely connected. The New School has long been committed to serving as the preeminent intellectual and creative center for effective engagement in a world that increasingly demands better-designed systems, organizations, and communication to meet social needs. To help the university fulfill that purpose, the Arnhold Foundation has committed $9.125 million to benefit the university’s research and programs focused on global issues.

The gift will support the groundbreaking work of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility and the development of a new research initiative, the Henry H. Arnold Forum on Global Challenges. Named for the former university trustee, the new Forum will foster collaborative research and public programming at university institutes and centers engaged in research on a range of global issues. 

“We have really high ambitions for the Henry H. Arnold Forum on Global Challenges,” says Will Milberg, dean of The New School for Social Research. “Our vision is to build the forum within the ethos of The New School and how it thinks about openness, exile, democracy and social justice. It will mount public discussions with major speakers and important thinkers on a variety of themes that are in keeping with this tradition.”

The Forum will benefit from the specialized, transdisciplinary work of The New School’s centers and institutes. “Much interesting and cross-cutting work takes place in the institutes and centers, across colleges, themes, and disciplines,” says Milberg. “The university’s centers and institutes will  participate in the Forum’s thematic discussions through student and faculty research, scholarly conferences, and innovative course offerings. This gift will allow us to support these efforts and thus to strengthen our research, teaching and our general engagement with the pressing social issues of the day.”

The Arnhold Foundation’s endowment gift to the Zolberg Institute will provide essential funding for the Institute’s operations — funding that is often difficult to secure through the typical foundation grant process. “This generous gift will enable the Zolberg Institute to continue its cutting-edge academic and policy work on the global, national, and local levels,” says Alex Aleinikoff, University Professor and director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility. “We are enormously grateful to John and Jody Arnhold and the Arnhold Foundation for supporting scholarship and research that has the potential to change policy, both in the United States and abroad.” 

Connecting scholarship and action is a key function of the Institute, which strives to give students a deep understanding of the theory of mobility and the workings of the refugee and immigrant systems. The grant will enable the institute to continue supporting the academic work of faculty and students through research grants; it will also fund new scholarly activities. We will soon be launching a new certificate in Migration Studies, which will include eight online courses and be open to learners from around the world.  The program will extend the global reach of the Zolberg Institute,” says Aleinikoff.

The Zolberg Institute is renowned for projects like its report, Improving the U.S. Immigration System in the First Year of the Biden Administration, which proposed nearly 40 reforms and recommendations in 12 key categories for the new presidential administration. It also produced Immigration Short-Takes: Mobility in the Time of COVID-19, an online series of short discussions with scholars and activists on the nexus of migration-related issues and COVID-19. Current work includes a global and regional focus on climate migration and the impact of migration on cities in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. 

Recently the Zolberg Institute, along with the Cornell Law School Migration and Human Rights Program, led the formation of the Global Strategic Litigation Council for Refugee Rights. The Council serves as a hub for activists seeking to use litigation and related legal advocacy to promote the protection of refugee rights and the consistent and progressive development of international law worldwide. Aleinikoff explains: “The Council brings together litigators from around the world, largely  from the Global South, to create a global strategy for bringing lawsuits to advance refugee rights. We’ll seek to find judicial support in different jurisdictions for rights like the right to work, the right not to be detained, and the right not to be returned. The goal is that this will develop into a global jurisprudence.”

The Arnhold family has a rich history of supporting The New School. Its contributions include the endowment of the Arnhold Forum Library in the University Center and Arnhold Hall in The New School’s West 13th Street building. The Arnhold Foundation supports the Zolberg-International Rescue Committee (IRC) Fellows program, which gives master’s and doctoral students the opportunity to contribute to design and research projects at the IRC. Henry Arnhold also made possible an endowed professorship in the Economics department and the Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professorship at The New School for Social Research.

“This endowment support demonstrates the Arnhold family’s commitment to the continued functioning of the Zolberg Institute,” says Milberg. “The Institute has done remarkable, important, visible, pathbreaking, and meaningful work for our students over the past five years. Professor Alex Aleinikoff has really built a very exciting and dynamic Institute and it has really elevated the university’s presence through its research and policy advocacy relating to migration, refugees, and asylum.”

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