Course

Curriculum

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The New School is a centre for free enquiry, where students can determine their own rhythm and pace through unprejudiced adventure. Instead of binding themselves to the standardising tasks of a syllabus, against which they are measured and ranked according to the accuracy of regurgitation, our students blaze their own trails under sympathetic guidance. They can either write, paint, sew (or sow), film or perform to inscribe their findings. Informed by group seminars, the results are gathered by the week and will ebb and shift under supervision. Through developing a critical-creative voice we believe they will find autonomy and resilience as citizens.

The curriculum comprises an open-ended series of one-year, stand-alone programmes, designed to allow students to combine their studies with life’s wider obligations (and nourishments) such as family and work. The academic year starts in mid-September and is composed of two semesters of 13 weeks each, to include one mid-semester reading week. A yearly cohort comprises 20 students, a number that affords the grounds for collaborative community. Their tenure at the New School is overseen by the Director of Studies who works closely with an individual student to co-curate a bespoke study programme. 

 

Each student is then appointed one or more supervisors from the Ensemble pool drawn not only from core New School teachers but from universities and arts institutions across the UK and the world. These could be practitioners as well as academics with whom a student will work closely on assembling an individual portfolio, while participating in a programme of weekly seminars. 

 

This pattern is designed to allow the in-depth study of an area, alongside the exploration of topics that might not necessarily seem relevant to individual research: an open-minded immersion in a variety of subjects, themes and methods from which new possibilities might emerge. Students are thereby encouraged to think of themselves as researchers from the very start of their time at the New School.

Anthropocene Seminar

The connective tissue is the weekly Anthropocene Seminar, a three-hour gathering for which students are given preparatory materials. These are held in-person at October Gallery’s beautiful premises in London and are complemented by field-teaching and on-line seminars, where appropriate.

 

Teaching directly addresses the challenges of interdisciplinarity as an approach in and of itself. Seminars are introductory in nature and are designed to build confidence by welcoming in the new and the surprising, while respecting the fact that subject disciplines have established their own formal characteristics. 

 

The sessions will give emphasis to individual intellectual and creative development and collaborative group work, alike. Teaching is shared between Ensemble members and visiting international speakers drawn from across the disciplines of the arts. The seminar is designed to broach the full range of enquiry that characterises the Environmental Humanities. 

 

Students who return for second or third years will find that their teaching reflects the need to encourage greater freedom and experiment, both within and between disciplines. This is in line with the New School’s principle of the student as co-producer, with a stress upon exploratory process rather than designated outcomes.

The subject outlines on the Seminars page were initially conceived as full courses. For 2022-23, they stand as indicative single-session topics for the 26-week teaching year.

Individual Supervisions

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The individual encounter with an Ensemble member is the centre of our teaching model. This emulates the University of Cambridge’s supervision system and guarantees a level of close attention from which students greatly benefit. New School students attend four such meetings over the year (usually on-line), the approach being informal, open and conversational without being casual.

 

The supervision takes the form of an hour-long meeting in which a supervisor discusses a critical essay or piece of creative work that a student has recently prepared on an agreed subject. This could be an exploratory, even raw piece, which might then be further developed, qualified or challenged. Student progress reports are issued by supervisors at the end of the second semester.

 

The total contact time per student will be approximately 80 hours per academic year. This recognises that students should be entrusted to read and collaborate freely and adventurously beyond any prescriptive curriculum remit.