A group of faculty members proposed the idea of a liberal arts institute as an innovative way to provide intellectual as well as physical "space" for the scholarly development of the faculty. Their goal was to create an imaginatively designed and managed institute, outside the curriculum but creatively linked to it, to give faculty, students and outside experts a place to collaborate on research projects of broad scope.
They also envisioned a rich series of public events related to these projects to enhance the intellectual life of the college.
A generous bequest from Louise Wolff Kahn '31 substantially augmented the Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Fund for Faculty Excellence, making it possible to establish the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute in 1998. The institute opened its permanent quarters on the third floor of Neilson Library in September 2000.
Rosetta Marantz Cohen,
Director, Kahn Institute
Rosetta Marantz Cohen is the Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman Professor of American Studies in the Department of Education and Child Study. She is the director of both the Kahn Institute and the Smith College Smithsonian Internship Program in Washington, D.C. Cohen is the author of five books on the history of education, international schooling and school reform, including the forthcoming Teaching on Earth: Global Portraits of a Changing Profession (Cambridge University Press, 2016). She is also a poet. Her chapbook, Domestic Scenes, was chosen by Maxine Kumin as winner of the Poets of the Foothills national poetry competition.