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Smith in Action

Two Smith students stand in tall grass and take specimen samples

Smith is an institution that puts its values to work. As a college, we implement strategic and thoughtful initiatives aimed at making our world a better place by focusing on several key values: equity and inclusion, community, leadership, entrepreneurship, and sustainability.

Equity & Inclusion

At Smith, access, equity, and inclusion are among our top priorities. Through strategic initiatives and thoughtful planning, we strive to ensure our campus is a welcoming place to work, learn, and live.

Toward Racial Justice

“True collaboration, deep learning, and transformational scholarship at Smith College call for every student, faculty, and staff member to feel a sense of belonging,” says Floyd Cheung, Vice President for Equity & Inclusion.

In order to ensure we are meeting these goals of advancing equity on campus, we’ve established pivotal action plans. 

Learn More
Students apple picking on Mountain Day

For Example

Read about a few initiatives happening around campus that support our crucial work regarding equity and inclusion.

Research & Inquiry

Designing for All

Students are using design thinking to help bring about disability justice.

  • Research & Inquiry
  • December 12, 2023



Tracking a Historic Flood

An interactive map designed by Smith students shows the span of the 1874 Mill River Flood.

  • Sustainability
  • May 7, 2024
A student holds a tracking device in a cemetery.

Campus-Wide Initiatives

From extensive initiatives like our geothermal energy project to long-term efforts such as buying locally sourced foods for our dining halls, sustainability is at the forefront at Smith. In fact, we’re on track to become carbon neutral by 2030.


The Jandon Center for Community Engagement works with faculty, students, and community partners on social-change projects that tackle community-driven goals. Through experiential learning and scholarship, students build essential capacities in critical thinking while providing significant leadership on urgent, complex issues facing communities and society.

Engagement on Campus

With a diverse campus population, fostering a sense of community at Smith is an ongoing initiative—a collaborative effort between the Office for Equity & Inclusion, the Center for Religious & Spiritual Life, and Multicultural Affairs—to ensure each student, faculty, and staff member feels welcome and comfortable on campus.

Partnering with Northampton

Smith’s commitment to the city of Northampton is unwavering. Check out some ways we’re impacting the broader community:

  • Students at Smith have been involved in establishing a Resilience Hub in Northampton to support those in need.
  • Smith’s Food Rescue Network—founded in 2022 by a group of Smith students—is addressing food insecurity in town; since September 2022, more than eleven tons of food have been delivered to Manna Kitchen.
  • We regularly donate computer equipment to the Northampton Public Schools (134 computers and 20 monitors in the most recent fiscal year!). Last year we donated $150k to Smith Vocational High School as it rebuilds its horticultural building.
  • In 2023–24, 67 Northampton High School students took 96 college-level classes at Smith at no cost to their families or taxpayers.

In the Curriculum

Community Engagement & Social Change Concentration

Did you know Smith has an academic concentration devoted to strengthening and broadening your skills in fostering community and social engagement? Learn more about it.

Learn more about how Smith is providing resources and support for Smith’s on-campus community related to antisemitism and Islamophobia.


Alumnae News

Home Is Where the Healing Is

Dr. Eliza (Pippa) Shulman ’96 is revolutionizing health care by reinventing the hospital.

  • Alumnae News
  • December 18, 2023

Front and Center

It’s no secret that Smithies tend to be leaders, and that’s not a coincidence. The Wurtele Center for Leadership encourages students to find their voice and lead in a number of ways, in a number of settings.

The center’s mission is to equip all members of the Smith community with the creativity, courage, and collaborative capacity to lead positive change at scales both large and small.

The C Series

The C Series gathers students, faculty, and staff for a panel conversation, followed by dinner and a hands-on making activity to dive into a leadership-related concept that can often have a wide range of meanings. We toss these terms around, but how can we make sense of it for ourselves in nuanced and complex ways?

Previous topics have included:

  • Burnout
  • Collaboration
  • Boundaries
  • Empathy

    Workshops Schedule

So What Does Activism Really Mean, Anyway?

Thursday, October 12, 2023 and Thursday, November 16, 2023, 5:30-7 PM, Neilson Browsing Room

Join the Wurtele Center for Leadership as we gather students, faculty, and staff in a conversation about this concept which has so many different meanings for different people. We toss the term around but how can we make sense of it for ourselves in nuanced and complex ways? This session is part of our “C Series” where we will consider, critique, commune, connect, create and collaborate around topics related to “activism.” The session includes dinner, and features special guest panelists who will be announced in early fall. 

At the Wurtele Center for Leadership, we are in a constant state of learning and exploration around the nuances and strategies of collaborative leadership. Below are some resources that we have either created or collected to assist Smith College community members in their collaborative leadership and learning endeavors.

Forms of Collaboration

Team Building

Teams that collaborate on a project often jump straight into “task mode,” without taking the time to understand one another and establish a common set of expectations for how they will work together. Research shows, however, how important it is to do the “maintenance” work necessary to establish a culture of psychological safety on a team before beginning work together. Here are structured ways to do this.

  • “Creating a Toolkit for Team Alignment” Video—We created this video for student leaders at Smith, but it includes a number of strategies for getting started with any team.
  • The User Manual—We often like to begin a project with a new team by having each member fill out and share a “user manual” for working with them. We have astudent version of the User Manual that is terrific for use with student groups, and another faculty/staff version of the User Manualthat goes into greater depth.
  • Group Norms Worksheet—Use this worksheet with your team to help you establish some team agreements or norms around how you want to collaborate with one another.
  • Task & Maintenance Exercise—This exercise introduces the concepts of “task” and “maintenance” modes in groups (a concept we’ve adopted from the great work of our friends at Leadership+Design). Use this to help attend to the overall health of the team while also getting things done.

Leading in a Diverse Community

Identity and cultural competency play an important role in how we lead and work collaboratively in teams. Here are some resources for developing skills to lead collaboratively in a diverse community:

Managing Conflict

Tensions and conflict are natural parts of working collaboratively with others. Instead of fearing and avoiding conflict, collaborative leaders work to embrace and harness conflict in order to move a group forward. We teamed up with Stacey Steinbach in Student Affairs to create a video for student leaders to help them begin to feel comfortable managing conflict.

Collaborative Communication

Empathic communication is key to all collaborative work for you and your team. 

  • “Communication 101” Video—With the help of Emily Norton from the Design Thinking Initiative, we created this video for student leaders at Smith, to help them think about and practice empathic listening and communication with their peers.
  • Communication Practices—This document offers exercises for groups to practice effective listening and communication skills. It is geared toward student leaders, but it could be modified for other groups or teams.

Intentional Meeting Design

Leading collaboratively means gathering as a team frequently to put our heads together, brainstorm ideas, make decisions and connect with one another. Collaborative leaders therefore design a lot of meetings.

Get the most out of your meetings by thinking carefully about how you design a meeting experience. See the Intentional Meeting Design Handbook we created for student leaders to help them design meetings that are intentional and enjoyable.

Leading Together

Slated to open in 2025 and posed to be one of the most energy-efficient buildings on campus, Kathleen McCartney Hall will be a sustainable, inclusive, welcoming, and inspiring hub for career development and leadership training. 

With a “purpose-driven design,” the building will enable direct collaboration between the Lazarus and Wurtele Centers for the first time.

Read All About It Building Details

Excelling in Entrepreneurship

The Jill Ker Conway Innovation Center is home to all things entrepreneurship at Smith. Well known for the Draper Competition, it’s become a major hub for creativity, ideas, and passions on campus.


Number of real-world ventures started from the Draper competition since 2013.


Outstanding Emerging Center, Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers


School for female founders who want to change the world according to College Magazine.