Going Further than Simply Divesting in Fossil Fuels

By Caroline Chmiel

The New School in Manhattan takes an unusual move in the current trend of divesting fossil fuel investments. As other institutions and groups try to divest in fuel, the New School has added elements in addition to eliminating all of its fossil fuel investments, the New School plans to reshape its entire curriculum, bringing climate change and sustainability to the forefront of the school’s mission and values. The New School focuses primarily on the field of design, so there is an immense opportunity to emphasize designing for the future with an eye toward climate change. Some examples of potential actions are: minimizing waste in clothes making, minimizing transportation of medium and aligning urban environmental planning with weather patterns. Outside of teaching these methods, the school itself plans to reduce its own carbon footprint by reducing energy use, paper use, and waste. It also wants to search for small-scale local food suppliers.

The directors of the school plan to completely reposition the school’s values far beyond divestment. The school plans to primarily use divestment as a teaching tool. Economics students study companies and practice adding environmental awareness to their decisions on keeping or selling stocks. Their end goal is to create an environment where all 14,000 students, faculty and staff serve the climate needs of a changing world while aware of the impacts of every action taken.

One difficulty in executing this vision lies in studies of students not in traditional public policy or environmental courses. Drama students, for example, will be encouraged to change the messages of their work in speaking on climate issues. Battling climate change and salvaging our future will require creativity, just maybe the creativity the New School fosters.

Schwartz, John. “The New School Divests Fossil Fuel Stock and Refocuses on Climate Change.” The New York Times Web. 6 Feb. 2015


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