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About the Kahn Institute


"In the Kahn Institute Colloquia, faculty, students, and visiting scholars work, discuss, and debate the complex issues underlying their joint research. This kind of intellectual interchange is liberal arts education at its best, and the Institute has become an incubator for new linkages and directions in the intellectual life of the campus."

—Marjorie Senechal, Kahn Institute Founding Director and
Professor Emerita of Mathematics & Statistics

Planning a
Kahn Project:

Developing a Long-
Term Project

Developing a Short-
Term Project

Fellows at three colloquium sessions

About the Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Liberal Arts Institute

The Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Liberal Arts Institute supports collaborative research among Smith College faculty, students and visiting scholars without regard to the traditional boundaries of departments, programs and academic divisions. Each year the Institute supports long-term (i.e., yearlong) and short-term projects proposed, planned and organized by members of the Smith College faculty.

Fellows participating in long-term research projects meet weekly throughout the semester or the year to develop their research and to critique one another's work-in-progress from the perspective of their own disciplines and intellectual interests. In addition to these discussions, the Fellows of each project may invite visitors to participate in the research colloquia and in public events that are open to the academic community and the broader community of western Massachusetts.

Short-term projects (such as weekend workshops, debates, sounding boards, etc.) provide new contexts for Smith College faculty to explore topics of common intellectual concern that bear on their own research, and may serve as seeds for future long-term projects.

A Brief History of the Institute

The idea of a liberal arts institute at Smith was first proposed by a group of faculty members during Smith College's 1997 self-study as an innovative way to provide intellectual (as well as physical) "space" within the College for the scholarly development of the faculty. An imaginatively designed and managed institute, outside the curriculum but creatively linked to it, would provide a setting in which faculty, along with students and outside experts, could collaborate on research projects of broad scope. In addition, a rich series of public events related to these projects would enhance the intellectual life of the college.

A generous bequest from Louise Wolff Kahn (1910-95), Smith '31, substantially augmenting the Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Fund for Faculty Excellence, made it possible to establish the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute in early 1998. The Institute's permanent quarters on the third floor of Neilson Library opened in September 2000.

Colloquium meeting

"Participating as a Faculty Fellow in the Kahn Project organized by Lois Dubin and Alice Hearst, Marriage and Divorce, was one of the most intellectually rewarding experiences of my academic career.  I was able to break ground on a long-standing research interest in African-American folklore and the values and attitudes toward love and marriage as reflected in that lore.  The opportunity to engage in the interdisciplinary exploration of multiple aspects of marriage and divorce was phenomenal."

—Adrianne Andrews,
Lecturer in Afro-American Studies & Ombudsperson
Marriage & Divorce (2006-2007)

Information for Visitors

The following links provide access to information that may be useful to visitors to the Kahn Institute. We hope you find them helpful in planning for your visit, but if you need any additional information, please contact our office by calling 413. 585.3721 or by emailing


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