School crams social justice into fashion, data design courses

Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York City is offering a new course this fall geared to teach students how the fashion industry “thrives on social injustice.”

Critical Fashion and Social Justice” will be taught by Associate Professor of Integrated Design Dr. Hans Otto Von Busch, who will endeavor to show that “fashion is a phenomena that thrives on social injustice,” and how in the absence of “social differences,” fashion “produces them, harvesting its energy from the frictions of social competition.”

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“The course will explore topics like the technologies of the self and cultural identity, global production and consumption, body size and regimes of asceticism, aesthetic apartheid, and politics of the dressed body,” according to the course description.

Von Busch—whose faculty bio says that he seeks to use fashion to move towards “a collective experience of empowerment and liberation”—will also explore the struggles of social injustice in the fashion industry to “find new tactics for empowerment through fashion, finding ways by which fashion can mitigate injustices.”

The course is only intended for graduate students, and all 15 slots are filled as of publication time. This is one of many courses that The New School offers students oriented towards a social justice approach.

The New School also offers a course on “Social Justice in Sustainable Food Systems.” Taught by Dr. Kristin Reynolds, the course will explore the “social justice dimensions of today’s globalized food system.”

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While Campus Reform was unable to reach Reynolds for an elaboration, the course description notes that students will explore “how phenomena such as racism, gender discrimination, and structural violence” surface within the global food system.

Students will also learn about “ideological debates about the intersections of food, agriculture, and social justice,” as well as integrate their own “activist projects” into one of the course assignments. All 8 slots of that class are filled as well.

Other social justice classes offered at The New School include “Biology, Art, and Social Justice,” “Data Design and Social Justice,” “Museums and Social Justice,” and “Food Environments, Health, and Social Justice.”

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