The Cooperative New School is a next generation institution for popular education that is fully online and governed cooperatively by students, faculty, and staff. Popular education is politically conscious in that it recognizes oppressive structures in society. It aims at social transformation through the self-empowerment of people who are socially marginalized, or who are not sufficiently served by established academic institutions. Our collaborative structure, in which student-owners and faculty-owners co-create our curriculum, as well as teach and learn from each other, is rooted in these principles. Popular education originates in many parts of the globe. The faculty owners at the Cooperative New School draw inspiration from pedagogical approaches articulated by among others Paulo Freire, bell hooks, and Myles Horton.
The purpose of this institution is to prepare activists, organizers, and social entrepreneurs to survive and fight back in a rapidly changing world. Scientific consensus is that dramatic environmental change is not only inevitable but already happening. Fires with increasing intensity, strong storms and longer duration of storm season, dead zones in oceans, rising sea levels, just to name a few are going to be increasingly common. The next steps are adaptation and mitigation, in a word, survival. We believe that dealing with environmental change and catastrophe will begin in local communities with basic skills, skills which have been lost in the Industrial Age. Growing food are one of the basic skills that The Cooperative New School’s courses focus on.