The Schools of Public Engagement (The New School)

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Schools of Public Engagement at The New School
PresidentDr. Dwight A. McBride
ProvostTim Marshall
New York
40°44′08″N 73°59′50″W / 40.7355°N 73.9971°W / 40.7355; -73.9971Coordinates: 40°44′08″N 73°59′50″W / 40.7355°N 73.9971°W / 40.7355; -73.9971
Executive DeanMary R. Watson

The Schools of Public Engagement at The New School is one of five academic divisions that compose The New School, a private university located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. It includes, the Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students, Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment founded in 1964, School of Media Studies, Creative Writing Program, the Julien J. Studley Graduate Programs in International Affairs, and School of Languages.


The Schools of Public Engagement at The New School is the direct successor of the original institution making it the oldest division of The New School having been founded in 1919. The school's founding members wanted to create a “center for discussion and instruction for mature men and women” and by 1934 it was chartered as a university by the state of New York and began conferring degrees. The division was restructured in September 2011 after it would include both Milano School of Management and Urban Policy and what was then called The New School for General Studies.[1]

Growth and change[edit]

Dean Allen Austill led the division from the 1960s to the 1980s. Austill was assisted by Albert Landa, who directed publicity for the New School while also informally acting in many other capacities, and Wallis Osterholz, who was responsible for much of the day-to-day administration. Austill also added areas as guitar study and culinary science to the curriculum. In 1962, Austill initiated the Institute for Retired Professionals, a community of peer learners aged 50 to 90 who develop and participate in challenging discussion groups; the institute, now headed by Michael Markowitz, still exists today. Austill's subordinate as Chair of Humanities for many of these years was Reuben Abel, a philosopher. Abel was succeeded by Lewis Falb, a specialist in interwar Paris who broadened the humanities curriculum further. Prominent teachers in this era included the philosopher Paul Edwards; the literary scholars Hasye Cooperman, Justus Rosenberg, and Margaret Boe Birns; the political scientist Ralph Buultjens; and the visual arts instructors Anthony Toney, Minoru Kawabata, and Henry C. Pearson.

The 1990s and after[edit]

The New School, for most of its history, operated as a noncredit institution, serving largely white, middle-class, often politically progressive, often Jewish adults living in Manhattan who were interested in intellectual stimulation and self-improvement. In the early 1990s, the institution, sensing demographic changes and needing to supplement its revenue, began to encourage credit students to matriculate at the institution, a trend which culminated in the establishment of the adult BA program in the mid-1990s. The credit students generally represented a younger and more diverse population.

The New School possesses a prestigious MFA program in creative writing, directed by Luis Jaramillo, that has featured such authors as Rick Moody, Colm Toibin, and Marie Ponsot as instructors. The division also has an MA/MS program in International Affairs, directed by Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, and, until 2007, hosted the World Policy Institute, a well-regarded foundation devoted to the study of foreign affairs and formerly led by Stephen Schlesinger.

Several important developments occurred at the institution in the early 2000s. A strong advising program guided the curriculum's transformation from an intellectual free-for-all of courses often taught by teachers with sharply varying credentials to a smaller, more rigorous set of offerings taught by professionals, often bearing the highest degree in their fields. In 2005, as part of the rebranding of the entire university envisioned by President Bob Kerrey, the division was renamed The New School for General Studies, to clarify its mission and perhaps to invite comparisons with Columbia University's prestigious, similarly named School of General Studies. Also in 2005, the New School agreed to a contract with Local 7902 of ACT-UAW, an affiliate of the United Auto Workers, guaranteeing job security to part-time faculty who had taught at The New School for more than ten semesters.

Following the part-time faculty's success in gaining recognition and security, New School students set about creating a university-wide representative body. Many efforts had been made to establish a student legislative body, to address student grievances and concerns, but they were stymied by disconnected university divisions and an unenthusiastic administration. However, the long-standing efforts finally paid off in the Fall 2006 term when a University-wide Student Senate was formed involving representatives from all of the school's divisions. The USS gained administration support and funding from the board of trustees and is set to ratify a new constitution. Beginning during the Spring 2007 semester, representatives were elected from each division.[2]

Since July 2014, the Schools of Public Engagement have been led by executive dean Mary R. Watson.


The Schools of Public Engagement offers undergraduate programs designed specifically for transfer students, including working adults of all ages, as well as graduate degree and certificate programs.


The Schools of Public Engagement offers Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Master of Arts (MA), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees.


The Schools of Public Engagement is composed of the following schools and programs:

SPE also offers open-enrollment continuing education courses and certificate programs including Media Management, Film Production, Organization Development, and English as a Second Language.

Online learning[edit]

All undergraduate programs and several graduate programs at the Schools of Public Engagement at The New School can be completed entirely online or through a combination of online and on-campus study.

In 2007, Crain's New York Business wrote that The New School has “the most sophisticated online learning program in the city” and that it was “fast becoming the national model".[3]


The New School and its degree programs are fully accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Its credits and degrees are recognized and accepted by other accredited colleges, universities, and professional schools throughout the United States.[4]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Century of Cutting Edge Adult Education". Newcombe Foundation.
  2. ^ Hartmann, Rob. "New Face for Student Gov't" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-10. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
  3. ^ "New School Goes to Head of Class: NYU Plays Catch Up". Crain's New York Business. Archived from the original on January 16, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2007.
  4. ^ "Accreditation and State Regulatory Authorizations". The New School. Archived from the original on 2014-01-16.