Michele Kahane, Faculty; Cynthia Lawson, Faculty; Erika Nonken, Student; Ally Dommu, Student; Luke Keller, Student

The New School launched a school wide competition, New Challenge, in spring 2012. New Challenge expands opportunities for students to realize their ideas for social innovation, often hatched within courses, and to take them to the next level of implementation.  Building on The New School’s commitment to learning through action, New Challenge helps students develop as changemakers and gives them an opportunity to lead change in the world.

New Challenge is evolving into an ecosystem for social innovation at The New School where students can develop effective responses to some of society’s most pressing social solutions. How can the New Challenge, which began as a social innovation competition in 2012, truly become a context to support socially innovative ideas? Where does New Challenge fit in with the university’s other work focused on social justice and community engagement? What elements must be in place to ensure students develop effective and just solutions? How can participants build meaningful partnerships outside the university and be accountable to those partners? What can the University’s role be in fostering collaboration and community among students who seek to address common problems?

Relationship to framing questions
As a campus-wide platform for supporting student ideas for social innovation, New Challenge aims to strengthen community across the university, enriching learning and real-world problem solving. By recognizing that complex societal problems require a diverse host of committed actors, New Challenge strives to create a platform where creative collaborations can emerge. We envision university learning contexts in which students from different disciplines and divisions come together to collaborate on common challenges. We aim to encourage student teams to build meaningful partnerships with community groups outside of the university to actually implement sustainable ideas. We leverage New School alumni who are equipped with useful knowledge and experience to work with students to strengthen their action plans. New Challenge continues to design pathways and contexts for innovative partnerships and collaborations to be realized.