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Kahn Chronicle Online

A Note from the Director

by Rosetta Marantz Cohen

Rosetta Marantz Cohen, Director, Kahn Liberal Arts Institute
Photo by Jon Crispin

This fall, the Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Institute begins its thirteenth year as a center for faculty development at Smith. With my arrival as the Kahnís new director, we (Chrissie Bell, Kara Noble and I) have used the past summer as a time to stand back and take stock of what has been accomplished in those years. In the numbers of faculty who have utilized the Kahn, in the variety and scope of projects, and in the range of work produced, the Kahn Institute has been an unquestionable success. Since 1998, some 186 individual faculty have participated in long-term projects and more than 300 have taken part in short-term projects. Though the Institute is founded on the principle of "inquiry for its own sake," we received a tremendous volume of responses to our open-ended request for "outcomes that have emerged from work in Kahn projects." Many of you submitted descriptions of books, articles, and creative works directly related to Kahn colloquia and Kahn financial support. Others described scholarly presentations, new courses, or new parts of courses all stemming from Kahn work. If there were ever any doubts that the Institute is a valuable center for faculty development, these lists and statistics should permanently silence them. (To see a list of the outcomes submitted, click here.)

While recent budget cuts have brought serious challenges for the Kahn, they have also forced us to think creatively about what we do. One change we have made in response is to move to more extensive online correspondence. The Kahn Chronicle, for example, will now be published only online and that will save us some money and some trees. Another modification concerns the format for long-term projects. While long-term projects remain the cornerstone of the Kahn Instituteís model of faculty development, we will be experimenting with new formats. Starting in 2012-2013, we will be launching a semester-long model for one of our two long-term colloquia. In most ways, this abbreviated structure will follow the traditional year-long format—with a weekly colloquium, meals and visitors. Only the scope of the projectís inquiry will be more circumscribed. We hope the variation serves to entice those faculty who have been reticent to commit to a full year seminar to join us at the Kahn. Finally, we are striving to collaborate more extensively with the new Centers at Smith. Sharing staff, space and expenses will allow us to extend the number of short-term projects we support and to broaden their scope and structure. Last year, collaborations with the Global Studies Center, for example, allowed us to bring a wider range of visitors to Kahnís Why Educate Women? project. This fall, we will be collaborating with the Center for the Environment, Ecological Design and Sustainability (CEEDS) and a range of community partners on a short-term project involving the Mill River Greenway Initiative.

In June, I attended the annual meeting of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes at the University of Toronto. CHCI brings together the directors of institutes for faculty research from around the world. Itís an impressive group of people representing major international universities, as well as Tier 1 research institutions like Harvard, Berkeley, and Cornell. Time and again, in one conversation after another, I was struck by how favorably the Kahn Institute compares with others. In the breadth of its interdisciplinary scope; in its willingness to include students in faculty projects; in its commitment to open-ended outcomes; in its concern for the affective, not just the intellectual side of scholarly work—what we do here is impressive and unique.

We hope you will join us.



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