The New School to launch new Journalism + Design program to advance innovation and experimentation in journalism

Knight Foundation invests $250,000 to help prepare students for 21st century newsrooms

NEW YORK—Sept. 26, 2014—This fall, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, along with Parsons The New School for Design, will pilot a multidisciplinary undergraduate degree with $250,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Students will learn to combine rigorous, evidence-based reporting and news delivery with design methodology, which focuses on innovating to suit audience needs.

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Students in Journalism + Design will learn traditional journalistic values and practices within a framework of design thinking, an approach that incorporates feedback from audiences when developing new ideas. As such, the new program will prepare students for the challenges of a fast-changing media environment, while teaching them to think critically and constantly experiment with new ways to meet community information needs.

Designed to be a place of playful experimentation, the program will connect the best practitioners in the world with students with hands-on learning experiments. Students will further learn by doing through “unclass” settings such as pop-up classes, design sprints, hackathons, a mentor group and networking opportunities with world-class practitioners.

“By using design thinking as a map for how to best make journalism, we are creating an investigative laboratory, a space where exploration is key and critical thinking is encouraged,” said Eugene Lang College Dean Stephanie Browner. “Journalism is one of the fundamental pillars of a healthy and accountable democracy. It’s crucial that we not only carry on the historical work of others in sustaining those ideals, but chart a new sustainable path for the future.”

“We’re not trying to be all things to all people,” said Heather Chaplin, assistant professor of journalism at Eugene Lang College and program director. “We are strategically placing ourselves on the edge, with the idea that the edge eventually influences the center.” Long a journalism veteran, Chaplin has covered digital culture and play for The New York Times, National Public Radio and other publications.

“It is the job of journalism schools to prepare students for the newsrooms of tomorrow; central to that is instilling in them the need to constantly innovate and adopt new practices,” said Marie Gilot, Knight Foundation program officer for journalism. “This program will help establish a new model for journalism education with design thinking as a basis, and help shape better, more adaptable students who can meet evolving community information needs.”

“The Journalism + Design program recognizes the critical and growing role design plays in the creation, consumption and experience of media,” said Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons The New School for Design. “It creates an exciting new space to explore emergent methods and channels for relaying information that will transform the media industry of the 21st century.”

With Knight support, Journalism + Design will also host a distinguished journalist-in-residence program including practitioners and thought leaders, as well as social media editors, technologists and data reporters. This semester the journalist-in-residence will be Scott Klein, former Knight News Challenge winner, co-creator of DocumentCloud and assistant managing editor at ProPublica. Klein will teach a class on visualizing data with support from Parsons graduate students as class mentors.

Other classes will also have visiting designers from Parsons and IDEO, an innovation and design firm, embedded in them. In the program’s first semester, John Keefe, senior editor for data news and journalism technology at WNYC, will teach students to build interactive maps, charts, bots, detectors and devices, and Francis Tseng of IDEO will introduce students to automated news.

“Journalism + Design is not predicated on checking boxes beside certain skill sets,” said Chaplin, “but rather fostering dispositions of curiosity, imagination, agility, resilience, tenacity and smarts. Students will learn how to learn.”

Support for The New School is one part of Knight’s efforts to encourage change in journalism education and advance excellence in journalism. Knight has made various other investments in this area including support to a Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, and recent grants to Florida International University, Hampton University, Northeastern University and the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education.

More information on the Journalism + Design degree can be found at and




Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts is a seminar-style liberal arts college located in New York City that was established in 1985. Remaining faithful to its founding philosophy, Eugene Lang College grew out of a highly progressive freshman-year program developed at The New School in 1973. Lang offers intensive liberal arts study as well as a faculty committed to teaching undergraduates in an interdisciplinary context. Areas of study include religious studies, urban studies, social inquiry, interdisciplinary science, culture and media, literary studies, the arts, philosophy, psychology, economics, and environmental studies. For more information, visit

Parsons The New School for Design is a global leader in design education, with programs that span the disciplines of design and the fine arts. With the launch of its fashion design program in 1904, Parsons is credited with the rise of Seventh Avenue, the epicenter of American fashion. Parsons offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design, Associate Degrees in Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing, and a Master of Fine Arts Program in Fashion Design and Society that was initiated through the support of Parsons alumna Donna Karan. Parsons has educated generations of leading American fashion designers, including Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Isaac Mizrahi, Tracy Reese, Narciso Rodriguez and Anna Sui; and rising talents Prabal Gurung, Derek Lam, Ohne Titel, Thakoon Panichgul, Proenza Schouler, Vena Cava, Alexander Wang, and Jason Wu. For more information, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit


Kasia Broussalian, The New School, 212-229-5667 x3990, [email protected]

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]