Naming your university The New School demands a lot: Students expect that their education will be groundbreaking, unique and inspirational. These professors live up to the name with their innovative work, new perspectives and exceptional teaching styles. They shine when they teach, and you’ll feel the energy when you step into their class. Who knows? These professors are so inspiring that you may be destined to spark your own revolutionary ideas too. These professors are just some of the most inspirational at The New School—if you’re lucky, you might just catch ‘em all.
1. Shelly Fox—Fashion Design
Those who grew up waiting for the next episode of Project Runway or for the mailman to deliver your favorite fashion mag, rejoice! Shelly Fox received the honor of being named the Donna Karan Professor of Fashion at Parsons School of Design for her award-winning, internationally-reaching designs. Only a true master of fashion could attempt to pass down her creative genius, and Fox does just that with her studio classes. Fox aims to create “idea people” through her mentorship: people who see beyond fabric and color schemes to the big picture of society.
2. Jeremy Varon—Historical Studies
Though most American history professors delve into quintessential America—Lincoln, apple pie, hamburgers, the whole star-spangled shebang—Jeremy Varon pushes his students to think beyond our borders. His work as a historian of Western Europe broadens his students’ perspectives to show them a whole new world of history. He expects that this new perspective will inspire his students to think big and tackle big challenges. “All of his former students that I have knowledge of admire him and consider him a great mentor, and a motivator,” graduate student Luis Avila said. If you can’t get into his class, you might be able to catch one of his talks on social movements and the politics and ethics of violence. Stay tuned for his book about Holocaust survivors who studied in German universities in the American Zone of after World War II.
3. Alice Crary—Philosophy
Philosophy doesn’t just come in the form of dusty old Greek guys or the kind of deep-thinking you do in a sleep-deprived haze at 3 a.m. Crary demonstrates to her students just how philosophy can function in all of our lives. “Alice Crary has done path-breaking work in our department as Chair to bring about greater inclusiveness among populations traditionally under-represented in philosophy,” graduate student Ryan Gustafson said. She recently authored “Inside Ethics: On the Demands of Moral Thought” a monograph examining the moral status of humans and animals. Even beginners can consider themselves an Aristotle apprentice after a course with Crary.
4. Andy Milne—Jazz and Contemporary Music
Andy Milne will tell you that your slack-jaw, drooling boredom in lecture is actually something to be treasured. Milne argues that moments of boredom when we would normally turn to Snapchat or Candy Crush are moments that beg for our creativity. His classes on music will inspire you to tap into your creativity in moments of monotony and produce something beautiful when you would normally turn to angrily reading articles about politics or online shopping.
Related article: Top 10 Campuses for Creative Leaders
5. Andreas Kalyvas—Politics
“Andreas is a professor of political theory, and perhaps one of the most daring and provocative thinkers in the university,” graduate student Luis Avila said. From the ancient roots of government in Roman and Greek times to the current political whirlwind of memes, Brexit, millennial voters and bad hairpieces, Kalyvas can explain it all. If you want to know who’s the boss (besides him), he can certainly tell you. His class on political theory forces you to read closely and make and argue for your own opinions, even the critical and radical ones. Plus, Kalyvas has global experience: he has taught in Spain, Germany, Poland and South Africa.
6. Ann Stoler—Anthropology
A critically acclaimed scholar for over 30 years, recognized for her work on the subjects of colonial governance, racial epistemologies, and the sexual politics of empire, sends you, a lowly college student, personalized recommendations for your research project? Only with Professor Stoler. Stoler never lets the shine of her own success dull the shine of her students. Besides offering her personalized recommendations to students, Stoler also organizes workshops between students and all the Anthropology cohorts to stimulate the flow of ideas. “She has a very vibrant energy as a professors and encourages her students to always question everything that is given to us: be it our common sense, our feelings, the inequalities that exist in the world,” graduate student Mariana Arias said.
7. Robert Sember—Interdisciplinary Arts
If only your grade school teachers thought your stick figures and doodles in your notebook could cause social change. They probably didn’t, but Robert Sember does. Sember believes in and teaches the power of art to interrogate our world, to criticize, to inspire hope, and to cause change. “He radiates this bright, beautiful light of transformative knowledge,” student Szounjie Emerson said. “If I ever used the word ‘woke’, I’d be talking about Professor Sember.” Sember grew up in South Africa during the apartheid, so he knows about political and social tumult and how to use art to express frustration and optimism.
8. Roxanna Zarnegar—Design Strategies + Management
Business in the front office, artistic practice in the back studio. Zarnegar has knowledge of both realms and presents them to her students as inspiration for their own careers. She will make sure that the elements of what makes you truly unique stand out in your work. “The feedback you can get from Roxana is life changing,” graduate student Lourdes Martinez said.
9. Stefani Bardin—Food Studies
Bardin will tell you with a smile about how we are destroying the planet and our bodies with our love of Twinkies and red meat. Her class on sustainability will wake you up with its shocking facts about how humans treat our environment, and you’ll stay alert for her positive, upbeat way of teaching. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, and The Huffington Post, and her videos offer a unique, scientifically grounded perspective on industrial food production. Looking at you, Mickey D’s.
10. Lauren Redniss—Illustration
When an artist passes away, hungry fans and admirers search for more art to satiate them in the hidden manuscripts and sketches that didn’t reach publication. Thanks to the MacArthur Genius Grant given to illustrator Lauren Redniss, we will be able to see her hidden work sooner rather than later. She’s been hiding away some of her ideas in a drawer, but the grant will give her the resources she needs to bring them to fruition. Her detailed visual books involve archival research and extensive reporting. This research guides Redniss’ artistic direction and techniques used for each project. Students have been learning through her example already through her three books, but these new ideas will show everyone just how far Redniss pushes her creative boundaries and inspires her students to do the same.
Related article: 10 Most Innovative Grad Programs at The New School