Robert L. Kahn Innovation Fund

Sparking Interdisciplinary Scholarship & Celebrating a Remarkable Life and Career

Robert Kahn

Robert (Bob) L. Kahn (1918-2019) understood that true interdisciplinarity brings the best of two or more fields together to illuminate an issue that would otherwise remain poorly understood. Created by his friends and colleagues, the Robert L. Kahn Innovation Fund will be the catalyst that supports interdisciplinarity in research by encouraging researchers from many different fields to work together in thoughtfully designed groups to address problems that cannot be understood within a single discipline or field. The fund will provide project support to interdisciplinary groups of researchers in the pursuit of inventive social solutions. Grants from this fund will support the first year of an investigation, allowing the team to begin their projects before turning to more traditional funding sources. By serving as a means to spark collaborative and ground-breaking scholarship, the Kahn Innovation Fund will open an exciting new chapter in interdisciplinary social research.

Bob KahnBob was a founding member of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) and pioneering distinguished researcher in the two distinct fields of organizational theory and aging. During his almost 40 years at the University of Michigan, Bob served as Director of the Survey Research Center and Acting Director of ISR. Bob’s scholarship exemplified his extraordinary ability to work across disciplinary boundaries and lead interdisciplinary teams. Bob relished the exchange of ideas. He enjoyed designing studies that targeted urgent human problems, and most of all, considering how best to apply the findings. He was a strong supporter of young people, junior scientists, women and minority scholars, and was committed to social justice in bringing new scholars into the field.

Today’s transformative discoveries are most likely to occur at the boundaries between disciplines. For this reason, the advancement of interdisciplinary social research is more vital than ever. There is no better time to demonstrate a commitment to bold innovation, new kinds of partnerships, and the reimagined exploration of urgent social problems.

Join Us!

For more information about the Robert L. Kahn Innovation Fund and how to partner with us, please contact a member our team.


  • recognize Robert Kahn’s career marked by excellence in research and collaboration.
  • make an investment in continuing Bob’s legacy of leadership.
  • launch innovative interdisciplinary research projects with promise of real social impact.

Robert L. Kahn Innovation Fund Leadership Committee

Founding Donors:
Linda Argote and Dennis Epple
Jerald Bachman
Gerald F. Davis and Christina L. Brown
Daniel Denison
Jane Dutton and Lance Sandelands
James S. House and Wendy Fisher House
Berit Ingersoll-Dayton
Robert and Judy Marans
Susan B. Meister and Paul M. Meister
Richard H. Price and Mary B. Price
John W. Rowe
Robert F. Schoeni and Gretchen M. Spreitzer