The New School’s New Hire Asserts Design’s Role in the Refugee Crisis

Alex Aleinikoff, incoming director of the Zolberg Institute of Migration and Mobility at the New School for Social Resource, hopes to bring together the worlds of social research and design.

Courtesy Varvara Mikushkina

Alex Aleinikoff, former Deputy High Commissioner at the UN Refugee Agency, has been appointed director of The Zolberg Institute on Migration & Mobility—an initiative that aims to rethink how to promote social justice and equality when it comes to the migration of displaced people.

The Zolberg Institute is part of the New School for Social Research (NSSR), a university founded by a group of German & Austrian refugees in New York after the explosive rise of the Nazi regime in 1933. Since 2011,The Zolberg Institute has held many symposiums and projects to rethink the nature of refugees’ displacement and question the philosophical assumptions regarding mobility.

As director, Aleinikoff hopes to explore a number of issues, “From the concept of refugee-hood and the economic and political implications of that, to the more practical issues of how we take care of refugees, providing places to live that are planned in a conscious way, that meet their needs, and that integrate them into communities as they struggle to survive and rebuild their lives.”

Within the coming months, as the Zolberg Institute takes shape under its new director, we will start to see what students and the greater community of the New School can add to this conversation—a prospect that Aleinikoff is excited about. “Students have an ability to be remarkably creative and energetic. I hope to draw on the interdisciplinary nature of New School, as well as its interest in social research and social reform, to help make the New School a contributing voice to this global crisis.”

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