Transregional Center for Democratic Studies

New School Student Application Deadline Extended to April 8th for our upcoming 2018 Democracy & Diversity Institute in Wroclaw, Poland!

Due to numerous inquiries regarding applying to this summer’s Democracy & Diversity Institute in Wroclaw, Poland, we have decided to extend the application period for New School applicants to April 8th, 2018! Don’t miss the opportunity to join us for this interdisciplinary, comparative, and highly interactive approach to the social, political, and cultural challenges facing today’s world… Apply today!

The Transregional Center for Democratic Studies (TCDS) at the New School for Social Research is happy to announce that Full Program Information as well as applications are now available for our 27th annual Democracy & Diversity Graduate Institute to be held at The New School summer campus in Wroclaw, Poland, July 6-22, 2018!  This years Institute will be themed Shifting Ground: The Politics of Fiction & Reality Today.  If you are interested in applying, have question about fees, credits, etc., or would like to discuss the program in more detail, please email us at  We look forward to hearing from you and we hope you will join us in Wroclaw this summer!


27th Democracy & Diversity Graduate Summer Institute 

Wrocław [Vrots-love], Poland July 6-22, 2018

Shifting Ground: The Politics of Fiction & Reality Today

Widely admired as an intimate international forum for lively but rigorous debate on critical issues of democratic life, the D&D Institute brings an interdisciplinary, comparative, and highly interactive approach to the social, political, and cultural challenges facing today’s world. This year we are particularly proud to have among our faculty Professor Agnes Heller, one of the most distinguished thinkers of our time.

New School students register for 2 courses and receive 6 credits. Other participants will receive Institute certificatesAll participants select 2 out of the following 4 graduate-level seminars:


The Time is out of Joint: Tragedy and its Absence in Our Comic/Catastrophic Times

 Agnes Heller – Professor Emerita of Philosophy, NSSR

We will explore tragedy as a literary genre that presents clashes between two opposite value systems and systems of beliefs, carried on by two protagonists. Initially the content of tragedy was provided by mythology, and then it was history that provided its substance. We will ask the question: Why have modern class societies not “produced” tragedies, but comedies, with the exception of those that focus on clashes between cultures, and between genders? Why was it the absurd drama that replaced comedy? Why is it that mass society has not produced its own representative drama? In the seminar we will discuss 5 major theories of tragedy and tragic theater as generated by different socio-historical epochs. We will read dramas, including at least one play of the theater of absurd, e.g Waiting for Godot. 


“Europe is dead,” Philosophy, History, and Politics in the Thought of Jan Patocka

 James Dodd – Professor of Philosophy, NSSR

This seminar will consider the sources, motivations, and influence of the philosophy of history of the Czech philosopher Jan Patocka. Particular attention will be paid to his conception of Europe, his reaction to the Cold War, and—above all—possible lessons we might draw from his thought for today. Close readings of Heretical Essays, Plato and Europe, as well as other essays spanning Patocka’s intellectual career. (See Prof. Dodd discussing this course with TCDS Director Elzbieta Matynia here!)


Democratic Crisis and the Politics of Social Media

Claire Potter – Professor of Historical Studies, NSSR

This course seeks to understand the recent history of democratic crisis by examining the rise of a global digital public sphere. In the past three decades, the politics of social media have been both aspirational and cynical. While increased communication within and across national borders, as well as the possibility of instant translation, can inspire global democratic organizing, digital communication has also fueled authoritarian and anti-democratic coalition building. The benefits of social media are not abstract: it fuels resistance movements; supports access to privileged information, local journalism, and fact checking; and powers networks that guide refugees and immigrants fleeing state violence. Yet the same apps and digital tools have also fueled the rise of nationalism, authoritarianism, surveillance and global terror. Using Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (1983) as a provocation, we will chart the similarities and differences between social media and its non- digital predecessors, work to understand the present terrain in which citizens manage information, and imagine principles that might guide a democratic digital public sphere.  (See Prof. Potter discussing this course with TCDS Director Elzbieta Matynia here!)



We the People: Nationalism, Populism, and the Precariousness of the Democratic Project

Prof. Elzbieta Matynia, Professor of Sociology and Liberal Studies, The New School for Social Research

Democracy – a major political imaginary in the last two centuries — has lost its aspirational role, and seems to be in retreat everywhere. What are the social factors and political forces that have facilitated the emergence of a striking phenomenon: a transition FROM democracy? Trying to understand the appeal of an illiberal order and a retreat from the intellectual legacy of the Enlightenment, this seminar explores recent attempts by two competing forces to recast the democratic promise: nationalism and populism, both of which — in their varied historical and modern expressions – speak as we the people.

While examining the plurality of concepts and forms of nationalism and populism, we will discuss a new fusion of ethno-nationalism, xenophobia, and ultra-populism that plants fear, distrust and does not shy away from violence. But we will also look at instances of the kind of inclusive social engagement — critical to any democracy — in which the key identity of its actors is that of citizens enacting democratic practices, in which the good of society as a whole is what’s at stake. Our discussions will consider material from a variety of sources and examine cases from different parts of the world, including Europe and the United States.

This year’s courses will highlight the following important questions:

 ·      What are the reasons behind the absence of tragedy, as a form of art and as literary genre, in our otherwise catastrophic times?  (The Time is Out of JointAgnes Heller, Professor Emerita of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research, author of A Theory of Modernity)

·      What has been the role of the global digital sphere — and especially social media, with its mixture of aspirational and cynical politics – in the crisis of democracy today? (Politics of Social MediaClaire Potter, Professor of Historical Studies, Executive Editor of Public Seminar, author and co-editor of  Doing Recent History: On Privacy, Copyright, Video Games, Institutional Review Boards, Activist Scholarship, and History That Talks Back)

·      What lessons can we can learn for today from Vaclav Havel’s “mentor,” the brilliant Czech philosopher and dissident Jan Patocka, who agitated for the renewal of the European project in the wake of the multiple catastrophes of the twentieth century? (Europe is Dead,” James Dodd, Professor of Philosophy, author of Violence and Phenomenology)

·      What are the social factors and political forces that have facilitated the emergence of a strikingly widening phenomenon: a transition FROM democracy? What are the sources of the appeal of an illiberal order and a retreat from the intellectual legacy of the Enlightenment? (We the PeopleElzbieta Matynia, Professor of Sociology and Liberal Studies, director of TCDS, author of Performative Democracy and An Uncanny Era)


For all New School applicants, the extended application deadline is April 8th, 2018.

For all other applicants, the application deadline is April 2, 2018.

For Application Instructions and Full Program Information including full course descriptions click here!

To Download an Application Form click here!

For more information, please visit our website: or contact us by e-mail at or by phone at (212) 229-5580 ext. 3137.


The New School for Social Research
6 East 16th St., Rm 921, NY, NY 10003
212-229-5100 ext. 3136

Elzbieta Matynia, Director
212-229-5580 ext. 3137

Lala Pop, Program Manager,
PhD Student, Politics
212-229-5100 ext. 3136

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