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A Culture of Care >> Read Smith’s plans for the spring 2022 semester.

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Past Long-Term Projects

Since 1998, the Kahn Institute has launched dozens of innovative long- and short-term projects that have brought together a wide range of students and faculty members. If you have questions about past projects, please contact Christine Reynolds, administrative coordinator.


TranslationS (2019–20)

Translation has always been part of what makes us human. This yearlong Kahn project draws attention not only to the traditional practice of translation in the literary field, but also to its role in a wide range of disciplines, as well as to its capacity to animate conversation across disciplines.

Fear (2019–20)

What is fear? Why is fear so widespread? How does it shape personal behavior and public policy? This is a topic that cries out for collaboration: among neuroscientists and biologists, psychologists, political scientists, economists, media studies scholars, historians, anthropologists and sociologists, scientists, philosophers and cultural critics.

Refugees (2018-19)

This project seeks to draw together faculty from a wide range of fields whose work intersects with the subject of forced displacement, to consider this complicated subject not only through the lens of historians and contemporary policy scholars, but also from the perspective of economists, social workers, psychologists, educational theorists, and artists.

Technophilia/Technoskepticism (2020–21)

When this seminar begins in 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G promise to shift daily lives—in conjunctions with, and through resistance to—myriad older technologies. When technologies change the world, what happens? Thinking expansively about technology and its work in the world, this yearlong Kahn project invites discussions about creativity and data, machines and knowledge production. From moveable type to drones, prison architecture to bioinformatics, innovation has long tested our ethics, if not also our ways of being human. What are the implications of innovation?

Imagining Climate Change: From Slow Violence to Fast Hope (2020–21)

This yearlong Kahn project will bring together scholars from across the disciplines to ask how climate change forces—and inspires—us to shift our habits of thought, representation, and communication. We believe that recognizing the slow violence of climate change is urgent work. We will probe the magnitude of this slow violence while daring to envision and nurture the hope that turns indifference into action.

Food (2018-19)

Once the discourse only of anthropologists, food has become a growing area of research and discussion in disciplines ranging from sociology to biology, literature to politics. Our goal is to address questions that resonate across many fields with scholars of food from across the liberal arts cirriculum in this collaborative and sometimes hands-on exploration.

Destroy then Restore (2017-18)

This yearlong project explores the dynamic interaction between human societies and natural processes, waters, and landscapes.

War (2017-18)

Despite efforts to outlaw it and undermine its legitimacy, war remains with us; it is a persistent human institution.This yearlong Kahn project will bring together scholars from across the disciplines whose work touches on war in all of its complex facets and dimensions.

Modes and Models of Making (2016-17)

In this yearlong Kahn project we are interested in exploring how the idea of "making" infuses our sense of the world. What does it mean to make something? Is making a mode of knowing? Why are some kinds of production driven by desires for innovation, others for commitments to habits and ritual? Why are some forms of making risk-averse and others risk-seeking? How do different disciplines approach answers to these questions?

Shaping Perception (2016-17)

This yearlong Kahn project will explore the concept of perception as an essential form of human experience, an aspect of ourselves that defines who we are and how we relate to the world. 

Play (spring 2016)

This one-semester project aims to approach play from a variety of disciplinary perspectives in order to enrich our understanding, not only of what play is, but also of what we might gain by seeing as play some practices currently defined in other ways.

Memory (2015-16)

This yearlong project aims to consider the great range of mechanisms, uses and representations of memory across disciplinary fields, with a particular focus on how the limitations of memory, and the ways in which memory can be manipulated, impact both the individual and society.