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Kahn Liberal Arts Institute

The Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Liberal Arts Institute supports collaborative research among Smith faculty, staff and students, Five College faculty, and visiting scholars—all without regard to the traditional boundaries of departments, programs and academic divisions. Each year the institute supports long- and short-term projects that are proposed, planned and organized by Smith College faculty. Kahn Fellows work together on topics that are broad enough to encompass a variety of disciplinary perspectives and fo­cused enough for a meaningful investigation.

Kahn Institute Updates

Now Available: Recording of “Abortion as a Human Right: A Dialogue”

The recording of the “Abortion as a Human Right: A Dialogue” panel, featuring Byllye Y. Avery, Founder, Black Women’s Health Imperative; Amy Hagstrom Miller, Founder, Whole Woman’s Health abortion clinics; Regina Davis Moss, Executive Director, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda; Rosalind Petchesky ’64, Distinguished Professor Emerita, Hunter College, and Founder, International Reproductive Rights Research Action Group; and Loretta Ross, associate professor of the study of women and gender, Smith College and co-creator of Reproductive Justice Theory, is now available.

Student Fellows, 2024–25

The Kahn Liberal Arts Institute is delighted to announce our student fellows for “Vegetal Forms: Knowing Place and Time Through Plants,” Fall 2024, and “Possible Futures: AI & Human Experience,” Spring 2025.

About the Kahn Institute

In 1998, a group of faculty members proposed the idea of a liberal arts institute as an innovative way to provide intellectual as well as physical space for scholarly development. Their goal was to create an imaginatively designed and managed institute, outside the curriculum but creatively linked to it, to give faculty, students and outside experts a place to collaborate on research projects of broad scope. They also envisioned a rich series of public events related to these projects to enhance the intellectual life of the college. 

A generous bequest from Louise Wolff Kahn ’31 substantially augmented the Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Fund for Faculty Excellence, making it possible to establish the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute in 1998. The institute opened in September 2000 on the third floor of Neilson Library and is now located at 21 Henshaw Avenue.


Communications/Publicity & Project Manager

Lauren Anderson

Administrative Coordinator

Christine Reynolds

Lauren Anderson 
Communications/Publicity and Project Manager, Kahn Institute

Alexis Callender
Assistant Professor of Art

Danielle Carrabino
SCMA Curator of Painting and Sculpture

Jean Ferguson
Director of Learning, Research and Technology

Susan Fliss
Dean of Libraries, ex-officio

Christophe Golé
Professor of Mathematical Sciences; Faculty Director of the Clark Science Center

Suzanne Gottschang 
Professor of Anthropology and of East Asian Studies; Director of the Kahn Institute

Colin Hoag
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Jessica Nicoll
Director & Chief Curator of the Smith Museum of Art, ex-officio

Christine Reynolds
Administrative Coordinator, Kahn Institute

Sujane Wu
Professor of East Asian Languages

About the Director

Suzanne Gottschang is a medical anthropologist whose work contextualizes how individuals navigate governance and knowledge systems at the intersections of health, science, and medicine. Her research and writing are rooted in China and the US and cross anthropology, East Asian studies, gender studies, public health, and science and technology studies. Her current research focuses on the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases in horses and how horses, their caregivers, and veterinarians deal with the uncertainties of treatment and care by drawing on experiential and anecdotal knowledge and practices as well as those of evidence-based veterinary medicine.

Her book, Formulas for Motherhood in a Chinese Hospital, is the first ethnography about how a Chinese hospital’s staff, new mothers, and their families navigated the UNICEF-WHO Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative’s policies and practices to promote breastfeeding at a time of unprecedented social and economic change. Relations between biomedical practices and heightened expectations of femininity and sexuality demanded by consumer culture, alongside international and national agendas to promote maternal and child health, revealed new agents of maternal governance emerging at the very moment China’s economy heats up. The ethnography provides insight into how women’s creative pragmatism in a rapidly changing society leads to their views and decisions about motherhood. Gottschang has published in such journals as Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Technology and Culture the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 

She is committed to collaborative projects in her research, writing, and teaching – ranging from a three-year collaborative research project on everyday technologies in East Asia at Hong Kong University to coaching a student team in Smith College’s Engineering Design Clinic.

Research Without Boundaries

“The Kahn Institute is unique. No other college has anything quite like it—an incubator for cross-disciplinary research, debate and colleagueship, and a haven for free speech.”
Marjorie Senechal, Kahn Institute founding director

Marjorie Senechal

“My experience in my Kahn project was totally life changing!”
Maggie Olszewski ’23, A.B., English Language & Literature and Film & Media Studies

Maggie Olszewski ’23 smiles against a blue-gray sky

”We demonstrated the power of live engagement, of being present to one another, of challenging and extending our minds in the moment we shared.”

–Andrea Hairston, Louise Wolff Kahn 1931 Professor Emerita of Theatre and novelist

Andrea Hairston
Eszter Hargittai

Behind the Screens

In her new book, Neilson Professor Eszter Hargittai ’96 reveals the findings of her study on digital privilege during the COVID-19 lockdowns and examines “who gets to benefit from the internet and who is left behind.”

Read More About Eszter's Findings

Contact Kahn Liberal Arts Institute

21 Henshaw Avenue

Smith College

Northampton, MA 01063