About the competition

This competition identified exemplary research and ideas from New School students that focused on issues impacting New York City. Students from across the University submitted their pre-existing, well- developed, and innovative projects that offered creative solutions to some of the most challenging social and economic problems facing communities in NYC.

Through a rigorous selection and evaluation process five winning projects were chosen based on their ability to: clearly identify a social or economic problem, offer innovative solutions to the issue, demonstrate a documented research process, appeal to a broad audience, and allow for collaboration with other organizations. 

Read about the selected projects below and join the Center for New York City Affairs to recognize these winners on April 26th, 2017. Each of the winners will present their work during a lively discussion with experts from the field. Click here to RSVP.

The 2017 Winners

Stories on Air: Enlisting satellite technology to battle for environmental justice.

Transmissions from NASA’s new TEMPO satellite will make abundant new data about pollution – pinpointed to time and location – widely available. The Stories on Air project suggests wedding this treasure trove of scientific data to grassroots environmental activism. Adding a geo-tagging technology element, which can provide more targeted and contextual data, 'Stories On Air' provides a strategic, conceptual proposal to give one of New York City’s most respected grassroots environmental organizations, West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT), a toolkit allowing activists and neighborhood residents to describe the effects of air pollution in their daily lives and respond with storytelling and visual statements designed to help shape governmental regulation and legislation.  

Lauren Atkins, Noa Bartfeld and Haijing Zhang, students in the Master of Fine Arts Transdisciplinary Design program.

Transilient: Candid, perceptive portraits of transgender/ gender non-conforming Americans.

A recent survey reported that more Americans claim to have seen a ghost than to have met a trans-gender person. What would happen, socially and politically, if trans people were better understood in all their human, multidimensional complexity? To find out, the Transilient project covered 10,000 miles in a 2016 loop around the country, interviewing and photographing trans people. The resulting 50 portraits and first-person stories create a remarkable record studded with surprises and insights, dissolving stereotypes and humanizing its subjects as only great photojournalism can.

By Johanna Case, Basil V. Soper, The New School Bachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students.

Family Shelters in NYC: How the City shelter status quo adds to the stresses of homelessness.

The number of homeless families in the nation’s largest city remains at near-record levels. In response, City Hall has recently proposed overhauling the homeless shelter system, in the process creating 70 new family shelters over the next five years.  But where should they be located?  Has the concentration of existing shelters in low-income areas undercut efforts to help sheltered families? By overlaying data on crime, food insecurity, and school performance on maps showing the current location of homeless shelters, Family Shelters in NYC makes valuable, thoughtful contributions to this ongoing debate, as well as suggesting possible resolutions.

By Kobi Loehr, recent Urban Policy Analysis and Management graduate, Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School.

Sunset Park Connect: Ending school overcrowding in a heavily immigrant community. 

Discover Sunset Park-1.jpg

In a city where overcrowded schools are all too common, classroom space is especially scarce in Sunset Park, a Brooklyn community where nearly half the residents are foreign-born.  The Sunset Park Connect project combined extensive neighborhood research with interviews, surveys, and “participatory mapping” exercises.  The result: a resourceful proposal designed to maximize use of existing classroom space while simultaneously enriching students’ education with frequent daylong excursions to nearby cultural institutions and also businesses on the community’s bustling working waterfront.  This project re-imagines how Sunset Park can become a classroom – and contemplates not just solving the problem of crowded classrooms but re-conceptualizes the school building as a more creative space.  

By Lyric Kelkar, Eduarda Aun, and Zara Farooq, Parsons School of Design Master of Science program in Design and Urban Ecologies

Biodiesel and NYC: Acting locally – and creatively – to attack global climate change.

Heating, cooling, and electricity use by New York City’s nearly one million buildings together account for more than 70 percent of the city’s production of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. Biodiesel in NYC systematically describes how City government’s current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could benefit from practical, achievable measures to encourage greater use of biodiesel fuels as an alternative to more heavily polluting fossil fuel heating oils – and also develop a market for recycling the city’s abundant and now too often wasted supply of used commercial cooking oil as biodiesel fuel.

By Marriele Robinson, graduate student in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management, Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School.

The 2017 Runner-up Finalists

Urban Rezonings in New York City:  Targeting the Vulnerable & the Unrepresented

Fernando Canteli de Castro, Parsons/ MA Theories of Urban Practice

Confronting Patterns of Displacement and Strategies of Marginalization: Welfare Policy “Reform” and the Transformation of North Brooklyn

Anna Gorman, Parsons/ MA Theories of Urban Practice

NYC Community Land Bank

Andrew Strong, Parsons/ MS Design and Urban Ecologies

Pract-Up! Explore the Rockaways

Leonore Snoek and Jakob Winkler, Parsons/ MS Design and Urban Ecologies


Jason Azar and Burak Sancakdar, MS Design and Urban Ecologies

Money Stories

Andrea Marpillero-Colomina and Mina Addo, Milano / PhD Urban and Public Policy


Elena Habre, MFA Transdisciplinary Design

The Adaptation Game

Corey Chao, MFA Transdisciplinary Design

Let them Eat Waste

Emily Dickinson, Milano/ Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management