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A Culture of Care

Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2021 semester.
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Year on Democracies


In 2021–22, Smith College will host an ambitious set of programs and events under the organizing theme “Year on Democracies.” This collegewide initiative is an opportunity to examine democracies around the world, through every aspect of the college’s educational offerings: the curriculum, exhibitions, performances, lectures, special events and the work of its centers and institutes. Everyone in the Smith community is invited to participate and collaborate. Students, staff, faculty and alumnae are encouraged to share their ideas, so that the Year on Democracies is at once an intellectual pursuit and an opportunity for inspiration, progress and impact.


“If ever there was a moment to think and reflect together about democracy—the idea, as well as the governmental, organizational, philosophical and ethical concept—it is now. Democracies, and democratic ways of thinking, have revealed themselves to be as fragile as they are robust, a fact that is true well beyond the United States. Smith College’s Year on Democracies (intentionally plural) offers possibilities for global, historical, comparative and creative views on the topic, and lets us be as expansive as possible in how we consider it.”
—Alex Keller, professor of film & media studies; director of the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute; and co-chair of the Year on Democracies

Innovation Challenge Grant Funding

President Kathleen McCartney has designated $100,000 in presidential discretionary funds to support Year on Democracies projects proposed by students, staff and faculty. The grants will be awarded competitively, with students, staff and faculty eligible to apply as individuals or teams.

Proposals for funding must be submitted via the form below. They will be reviewed by the Year on Democracies planning group and members of the President’s Cabinet. Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis until funds are expended.

Particular consideration and encouragement will be given to projects that:

  • Demonstrate innovative approaches to teaching, research and activism related to democracies
  • Take a team approach, engaging students, staff and faculty in a collaborative project
  • Contemplate the intersecting issues of inclusion, diversity, equity and democracies
  • Have the potential to succeed in both in-person and virtual contexts

Planning Group

Floyd Cheung
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion

R. Jordan Crouser
Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Laurie Fenlason
Vice President for Strategic Initiatives

Alexandra Keller
Professor of Film & Media Studies
Director of the Kahn Institute

Daniel Kramer
Professor of Theatre

Dana Leibsohn
Alice Pratt Brown Professor of Art

Erin Pineda
Assistant Professor of Government

Michael Thurston
Provost and Dean of the Faculty

Lester Tomé
Associate Professor of Dance


Campus Partners

Share Your Ideas

Everyone in the Smith community is invited to suggest ideas for programming for the Year on Democracies. Think expansively; ideas may include high-profile speakers, departmental lectures, coordinated courses across academic divisions, performances, exhibits and more. Suggestions are also welcome for combining and aligning existing initiatives under the Democracies theme.


Year on Democracies