Transregional Center for Democratic Studies


ON HIATUS: 30th Democracy & Diversity Graduate Summer Institute

With the deepest regret, but for obvious reasons, we have had to place our annual summer Institute in Wroclaw on hiatus. On the other hand we have been developing a special semester-long program — Transregional Dialogues: Rethinking the Past -Reimagining our Future — built upon close collaborations between advanced graduate students from Ukraine and their international peers based both at the New School and in other countries. Watch our website for a detailed announcement in early summer.

Climate Crisis and Questions of Justice


“Heal the people, heal the land”:
revaluing nature as a route to social justice

Alice Crary, University Distinguished Professor, (Philosophy, Liberal Studies and Gender & Sexuality Studies), The New School for Social Research

Romy Opperman, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Philosophy, The New School for Social Research

This seminar is dedicated to a philosophical examination of the idea that the reappraisal of more-than-human nature is essential for social justice. It develops the idea of structural ties between, on the one hand, environmental devastation and the mistreatment of non-human animals and, on the other, the oppression of racialized and indigenous people, as well as of women. We will look at how this idea gets motivated in strands of the interrelated traditions of Black feminism, ecofeminism, ecological Marxism, social reproduction, and decolonial and Indigenous thought. One recurring theme of this theoretical corpus is that registering new values in animal life, as well as in other aspects of more-than-human nature, is a prerequisite of arriving at just forms of life. We will investigate contributions to decolonial and other currents of philosophical thought with an eye to uncovering philosophical resources for this project of uncovering new values. Guided by the principle “Heal the people, heal the land” (Unist’ot’en)we will then read a range of sources, at once philosophical and grounded in political and grass roots movements, to get a sense of convergences of different theories of the value of more-than-human nature, as well as of these theories’ stakes and concrete implications for human justice. 

Colonialism, Indigenous Resurgence,
and the Politics of Environmental Justice 

Jaskiran Dhillon, Associate Professor of Global Studies, The School of Public Engagement, The New School

This interdisciplinary course critically examines the interplay among colonialism, Indigenous resurgence, and the politics of environmental justice. Students gain an understanding of how histories of invasion, conquest, and ongoing colonial dispossession factor into debates over climate change, carbon intensive economies, and environmental injustice and further consider the dynamics and possibilities of Indigenous resurgence and epistemologies in response to corporate and governmental encroachment on, and pollution of, the land, water, and air. Particular attention will be paid to case studies on Turtle Island (Indigenous North America), with a distinct focus on fossil fuel/extractive industries, although students will have the opportunity to explore these questions across the globe. Seminars discussions are intended to be complimented by direct engagement with scholars and organizers working on the frontlines of climate change and Indigenous political movements centered on environmental justice.

Science, Policy and Environmental Justice of Drinking Water

Bhawani Venkataraman, Associate Professor of Chemistry; Chair and Departmental Faculty Advisor for Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School

Access to safe water is an issue of environmental justice. Drinking water is the smallest fraction of water used by a nation, but the societal implications of the quality of this fraction are significant. Access to safe drinking water safeguards public health, supports access to educational opportunities, lowers familial stress, can mitigate gender inequities, and enables more socially and economically productive uses of time. Yet globally, over one in four people (~ 2 billion people) lack access to what the UN terms “safe managed water”—a challenge faced by people living in the global north and global south nations. (E.g., an estimated 8 million people in the US lack access to safely managed water).

This course will critically examine why access to safe drinking water is a global challenge by drawing from the natural sciences, policy, and environmental justice. Specifically, we will investigate: (i) the implications of access (or lack thereof) to safe drinking water; (ii) the history of drinking water management and the impact of racism and colonialism on communities’ access to safe drinking water (e.g., recognizing the challenges faced by residents of Native communities and cities like Flint, MI, and Newark, NJ, in accessing safe drinking water); (iii) current regulatory and policy management approaches to drinking water; (iv) the chemical nature of water and the role the “precautionary principle” must play in shaping safe drinking water policies and management; and (v) how a warming planet threatens the quality and quantity of drinking water exacerbating existing inequities in access to safe drinking water. The course will conclude with case studies from research literature investigating innovative approaches for delivering safe drinking water to communities across scales and geographic locations (e.g., urban to rural; global north to global south) to understand the factors that can help achieve sustainable, equitable access to safe drinking water for all.

Climate Mobilities  

Alex Aleinikoff, University Professor and Director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, The New School

Achilles Kallergis, Assistant Professor and Director of the Project on Cities and Migration, Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School

Climate change constitutes a global transformation that affects current and future migration patterns and will increasingly shape human mobility flows. Ten of millions of persons are displaced each year due to extreme weather events and natural disasters. Projections indicate that by 2050, over 200 million people in the Global South could be forced to relocate within their home countries to escape the slow-onset impacts of climate change. The poorest and most vulnerable areas will experience the most profound population changes. Migration from climate-hit rural areas with lower water availability and crop productivity and from areas affected by rising sea level and storm surges will go predominantly to places that are urbanizing rapidly—locations that often lack access to formal jobs, housing, and services. 

The objective of the course is to offer a global perspective on the phenomenon of environmental mobility and its effect on broader human mobility patterns. The course will adopt an interdisciplinary perspective to review theoretical concepts, policy framing, and empirical research in regard to environmental migration and displacement. It will analyze the process of migration as an adaptation mechanism responding to a changing climate. It will discuss the role and responsibilities of the international community in addressing environmental mobility. It will examine the creation and coordination of regional mobility norms and processes aimed at facilitating the movement of people. It will review the actions of nation-states and cities in response to climate-related challenges and the accommodation and integration of new migrants. Particular focus will be given to the experiences of environmental marginality attributed to a lack of recognition of citizenship rights.

The Full Program Description and the Application Form will be available during the Spring 2022 semester.


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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