How Did The New School Come To Be?

New are the courses and ideas of The New School, but old is its history. Columbia professors traveled from Morningside Heights to Greenwich Village in 1919 to establish what would become The New School. Leaving an Ivy? Yes—for newness.

In 1919, Columbia University decided to secure allegiance to the United States of America by drafting a loyalty oath to the American national government. Those with liberating tendencies, Charles A. Beard and John Dewey among them, fought against this oath. Patriotism and unity sometimes become dangerous pomposity and depressing uniformity. The New School evaded this problem by having blazed an unconventional path, one to the living spirit. History has created the current atmosphere of The New School. What exactly describes the creation story? How did The New School come to be? It all starts with a bit of rebellion.

The New School for Social Research, the brainchild of a few professors from Columbia University, fosters an ambiance of acceptance and intrigue—deciding to research how society can improve by acceptance and admittance, not how to sanitize diversity to keep the university aligned to "isolationism." Teaching via lively lectures and intriguingly engaging dialogues, The New School for Social research brought "creative scholars together with citizens interested in improving their understanding." ( Understanding, not solely knowledge: The New School for Social research decided and decides to entice its students to discover and comprehend the world around them as if it is always in flux and the knowledge of it is constantly morphing. The meaning behind the idea, in such a world, trumps the idea itself. However, the school is not, as some believe, completely theoretical and anti-statistical. An economics professor, Alvin Johnson, presided over the presidency first, and Richard Heilbroner (economist) graduated from and taught at The New School. Also, the school did not start normally, it first focused on adults. The school did not restrict its admittance to adults with little to no previous education: "To create a new model of higher education for adults...where ordinary citizens could learn and exchange ideas freely." ( is the mission which has guided The New School and has kept its uniqueness fervently accessible.

Further on in its history, The New School began to admit a new group of people. The “continuously new” seems to be an aspect of New York City. The city that never sleeps is home to people who never sleep, in order to live in New York City. According to statistics compiled by the Commissioner General of immigration, from the founding year of The New School to the year of 1924, a total of 1,633,746 immigrants passed through Ellis Island. Shocking? Well, since the countries of Europe were becoming monstrous and the United States of America was wondrous, not very jaw-dropping. However, Columbia's policy was astonishingly painful, not only to the feelings and livelihood of the rejected exiles, but to those people who supported the plea of exiles as well. The University in Exile "sponsored more than 180 individuals and their families...created faculty positions for nine distinguished scholars...received offer master's and doctoral degrees." ( The bounty of intellectualism is sprawling, and has grown at The New School now and before, because of refugees such as Max Wertheimer, Frieda Wunderlich, and Hans Speier. To say The New School surpasses and has a total advantage over Columbia and other universities with similar foreign policies, is to speak falsehoods. However, to say that openness, acceptance, and progressive beliefs helped The New School's intelligentsia and social culture is to ring true the proverbial bell.

From 1946 (and before) to the modern day, The New School has had remarkable professors from diverse topics of study such as W.E.B Dubois, John Cage, and Hannah Arendt among such luminaries ( One trend these erudite professors (and their predecessors) have crafted, possibly subconsciously, is that of great speakers. Thomas Piketty, Hillary Clinton, and Martin Luther King Jr. have spoken about socially crucial topics (economic inequality, economic policy, and affirmative action, respectively) at The New School; possibly because of tons of emails and pleas, but mostly because of the open-mindedness and progressivism of The New School ambiance. In essence, the history of questioning society in the classroom seeped out of, and still does leave, the classroom.

Despite the fantastic progression of successes at The New School, why leave a professorship at an Ivy League University? Revelry in the rebellious ecstasy! The desire to fight the power when the power becomes an overlord comes to the mighty mind: John Dewey, Charles Beard, Thorstein Veblen, and others had the might. Since Giovanni da Verrazano discovered the area of New York City in 1524, the history of discovery, inquiry, and journeying has been prevalent in the City, and has culminated perfectly in The New School. There is no "Core" at The New School; it changes as it grows, its core is flux. The New School's creation story is defined by the bravery of a new strength to create an accepting habitat where people can learn great topics and create novel projects, so that the greatness of the world and its endless possibilities never get old.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

More on Odyssey

Facebook Comments