Long- and short-term projects are the focus of the Kahn Institute. Kahn projects invite up to 20 Smith and Five College faculty members, as well as Smith students and staff, to explore, discuss and debate as a group topics of broad interest to a multidisciplinary crosscut of scholars. Kahn projects are typically co-organized by two Smith faculty members. Project organizers receive course releases, stipends and other compensation.
Current & Upcoming Projects at the Kahn
Social Ecology: Rethinking the Interdependence of Individuals, Communities and the Environment (short-term project Feb. 2020)
February 21-22, 2020
Social Ecology, which originates with the theories of radical ecologist Murray Bookchin, considers the political organization of societies in relation to the natural world. Bookchin’s theories are most aptly expressed by his dictum: “the domination of nature by man stems from the domination of human by human.”
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?
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.
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.
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.
Long-term projects are built around broad topics that are investigated in depth throughout an entire academic year. Long-term project fellows meet once a week at the Kahn Institute for two hours of discourse and/or other activities, and always share a meal, provided by the Kahn, either before or following their weekly colloquium. Long-term projects also include public lectures by a range of experts in fields related to the project topics, as well as field trips, film screenings and other activities.
Short-term projects provide new contexts for Smith and Five 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. Short-term project formats are flexible, but typically take place within an abbreviated timeframe. Short-term projects often include public events, panels or forums, film screenings, workshops, field trips and other activities over the course of two to three days, a weekend, or a series of daylong symposia.
1. Contact the Kahn director to suggest your project idea as early as possible, even if it’s at a preliminary stage.
2. Schedule a meeting with the Kahn director and staff to brainstorm and develop your idea, discuss parameters, identify potential participants or constituencies, and project a timeframe.
3. Draft a one-page narrative description of your project to articulate the central questions, problems and themes to be explored and analyzed; generate interest in participation; and indicate disciplines, departments or programs whose faculty may be interested in applying for project fellowships.