Spring 2015 Course Guides

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Reflecting on Climate Action Week @ The New School

Peoples-Climate-MarchThe environmental movement is often oversimplified. Don’t litter. Recycle. Save the Rain Forest. Great campaigns are often reduced to catchy phrases that minimize the needs of underrepresented people and communities who have been systematically excluded from the protection of basic human rights. Challenging popular interpretations of climate change, The New School’s Climate Action Week successfully brought social equity to the core of the People’s Climate March by hosting events that assembled diverse viewpoints ranging from indigenous women and community activists to economists and film directors.

Looming science and political ambivalence have created hurdles to understanding the social implications of climate change.  Milano’s Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management (EPSM) program prepares students with skills to understand the science behind environmental issues and devise management techniques that will impact cultural change.

Simply put: Climate change is a “wicked problem.”

What is a “wicked problem?” A multi-layered problem, so large and complex in scale that it cannot be tackled by one solution; thus multiple solutions are implemented with the scant understanding of how parts of the problem will be affected by those attempts. Global poverty could similarly be considered as another example of a “wicked problem.”  

Highlights of the week included: the premiere of the documentary film Disruption and panel discussion, titled, “On the Rise: Global and Local Front-line Communities and the Climate Crisis.” These events leading up to the rally, gave voice to groups generally underrepresented in the conversation and shed light on the fact that those contributing most to the problem are the least affected by the overall damage. 

Bill McKibben of 350.org explains, “It’s totally an accident that we even think of climate change as an environmental issue. You can just as easily think of it as another example of what happens in an unequal society.” His thoughts coupled with other well known leaders like Naomi Klein (author of This Changes Everything), Carl Anthony (co-founder of the Breakthrough Communities Project) who conveyed the message that climate change is more than saving the earth, but it also means justice for people. And it is everyone’s problem.

To conclude the week’s activities, The New School took to the streets on Sunday with 300,000 other marchers. Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson joined New School marchers in an electric demonstration. The climate justice cause united people that represented diversity in race, age, religion and nationality.   

Climate Action Week marks the beginning of The New School’s work in climate justice. Under the leadership of Dean Michelle DePass, the Tishman Environment & Design Center (TEDC) was re-launched as a university-wide center tasked with advancing The New School’s sustainability agenda while also serving as a research hub for solutions to complex environmental problems. As a sponsor of Climate Action Week, TEDC interviewed many leaders and panelists with the goal of understanding how to support their front-line initiatives in climate justice. In an upcoming series titled #MarchOnward, TEDC will keep up the momentum from People’s Climate March by releasing content and creating programming to address those needs. For more information, keep in touch with us a @NewSchoolTEDC

Alexandria McBride is a first year M.S. candidate in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management Program. Alexandria joined the EPSM program with seven years of experience in environmental and operational project management, community-based consulting and finance. With her passion for environmental justice, Alexandria is excited to examine and tackle challenging environmental issues with her EPSM classmates and professors.



International Affairs Alumna Mala Kumar Publishes Op-ed in The Advocate: “Why I Quit My Job at the United Nations”


Mala Kumar is a 2010 M.A. International Affairs graduate. She recently finished a UNICEF project manager job in Burundi. Click here to read the full op-ed.






GPIA Graduate Beatrice Mauger Co-authors Piece Featured on the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Blog

BeatriceMaugerAlumna Beatrice Mauger recently co-authored a post for the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities blog. The article entitled,
“Why Women are Essential for City Resilience,” highlights the importance of women’s role in disaster response and preparedness and advocates for the need to institutionalize support and services for women’s organizations through inclusive decision-making processes and policies.

Beatrice is currently a Cities, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Research Fellow at the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO).



From Divisive Walls To Blurred Boundaries: How Much Has Really Changed Between US and Russia?

vcard.newschool.eduInternational Affairs Professor, Nina Khrushcheva, claims in an article entitled Building Berlin’s Wall helped avoid a nuclear confrontation that “[t]hough the physical Berlin Wall was torn down 25 years ago, the psychological wall remains intact. Stronger than ever.”  Nina asserts that the Berlin Wall was in fact put up not as an aggressive action seeking to control and divide the masses, but as a way to avoid nuclear confrontation.  Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev, Nina’s great grandfather, was (unofficially) concerned with the possibility that the German region closest to the Soviet Union could posses nuclear weapons.  The wall, in some ways, was an unfortunate alternative to a potentially more violent and costly outcome of the USSR taking the entirety of Germany. 

This was all during a time when the US was indeed acting in an aggressive and hostile manner toward the Soviet Union and yet, according to Professor Khrushcheva, their was a willingness to explore diplomatic solutions to hostilities between the two world powers during the Cold War. A quarter century later, Putin insists that the US is acting aggressively in the region and is thus responsible for tension between Russia and NATO for its “unwelcomed expansion”.


Nina also appeared on “The Last Word with Lawrence O’donnel” and “The Reid Report” last week to talk about recent moves by Putin that demonstrate the symbolic tactics being used to show defiance toward the West.  Nina proposes that Putin, feeling the growing presence of NATO, and a refusal of the West to recognize Russia’s sphere of influence, is more than willing to invest in expensive propaganda, in the form of flying bombers over the Caribbean, just 50 miles from U.S. territory.  Putin seems eager to keep old tensions alive, likely in response to sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. 


Sean Jacobs on Morocco’s refusal to host the Cup of Nations

International Affairs Professor, Sean JacobsJacobs-06, recently published an article in The Guardian which commented on the reasons behind Morocco’s refusal to host the Cup of Nations.  The strenuous relationship between North and sub-Saharan Africa is highlighted in the article which points out how Morocco cited Ebola as one of the reasons for being unwilling to hold the cup in their territory.  This might be an overreaction as the virus is only in four of the 54 African countries. On the other side, even one Ebola case emerging in Morocco could deter tourism, an industry that accounts for 10% of GDP.  Further, Jacobs articulates the phenomena of migrants who pass through Morocco, usually headed from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe, who “regularly complain about harassment, violence and xenophobia”, which adds to an already difficult relationship that Morocco has with many countries located to the South.

The article notes the opportunities that arise from Morocco’s refusal to host the event.  Moroccan organizers are proposing to move the event to next summer which would give European players getting a break from an already demanding schedule, which the event interrupts, and could also increase viewership.

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