New Home, New Programs for Kahn Liberal Arts Institute

Student fellows gather in the Kahn Institute's Colloquium Room at 21 Henshaw Avenue. Photo by Jon Crispin.

The Kahn Liberal Arts Institute—now in a new location at 21 Henshaw Avenue—invites Smith faculty and staff to upcoming information sessions about applying for two yearlong research projects: “Food” and “Refugees.”

The information session for “Refugees” will be held Monday, Sept. 25, and for “Food” on Thursday, Oct. 5, from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Kahn Institute. Refreshments will be served. Additional information on the projects and how to apply is available online.

Established in 1998, the Kahn Institute moved in July from its longtime home on the third floor of Neilson Library to new quarters in a former faculty residence on Henshaw Avenue. Campus community members are invited to explore the new location at a “Welcome to the New Kahn” celebration Thursday, Sept. 28, from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

The Kahn’s new home includes a wrap-around porch for gatherings, a large conference room with a high-definition A/V system that can be reserved by members of the Smith community, and a blossoming apple tree in the yard—among other features.

The Henshaw Avenue location also offers quiet nooks and corners that are ideal for students who want to study, read—or just curl up and chill with pillows, stuffed chairs and other comfy furniture. Students are welcome to stop in during the institute’s regular hours on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Check the new SmithScape app for more details).

The September 28 celebration kicks off Parties on the Porch, a new monthly series of gatherings for faculty and staff featuring light music, snacks and libations on the wrap-around porch—including the “Kahn-tail,” a concoction using apple garnish from the nearby apple tree.

Subsequent Parties on the Porch will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on three Thursdays this semester: October 19, November 9 and December 7.

Although its location has changed, the mission of the Kahn Institute remains the same: producing and administering interdisciplinary faculty research projects—both yearlong and short-term.

“Our projects are a chance for faculty fellows to experiment intellectually, to challenge ourselves, to move outside of our comfort zones and take risks among others who want to support those risks,” notes Alexandra Keller, professor of film and media studies, who assumed directorship of the Kahn Institute this summer.

Keller—who has participated in several Kahn projects—says those experiences have been “transformational to my own thinking. The Kahn is a unique institution for its capacity to make community out of a very diverse group of people mutually supporting each other’s equally diverse projects.”

Kahn’s yearlong projects engage 20 fellows chosen from among Smith students, staff and Smith and Five College faculty.

This year’s long-term projects are “War,” organized by Mlada Bukovansky, professor of government, and Cornelia Pearsall, professor of English language and literature, and “Destroy Then Restore: Transforming Our Lands and Waters,” organized by Ann Leone, professor of landscape studies, and Andrew Guswa, director of the Picker Engineering Program.

The institute also hosts lectures during the academic year by visiting experts on topics related to its projects and publishes the biannual Kahn Chronicle newsletter to update the Smith community on current and future Kahn projects and events.