Contact: Gabrielle Graves 

Ann Arbor, Michigan, June 1, 2021–The Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), the Center for South Asian Studies (CSAS), and the Center for Middle Eastern & North African Studies (CMENAS) at the U-M International Institute are pleased to announce the virtual Grade 6-14 teacher workshop, “Rite Smells: A Sensory Exploration of the Historic Trade of the Indian Ocean.” An exploration of significant scents from the religious traditions of Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, and North Africa, the workshop will take place on June 25, 2021, 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. (EST). The workshop is funded by Title VI grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to each of these National Resource Centers at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (U-M) and organized by Rima Hassouneh, Community Outreach Coordinator at CMENAS and CSEAS. 

Trained “nose” and educator Michelle Krell Kydd will introduce participating educators to an interactive sensory exploration of aromatic materials related to the Indian Ocean’s historic routes of trade. All too often, educational theory and practice overlook the powerful role of the olfactory in the acquisition and retention of knowledge. In this experiential learning environment, Kydd will lead teachers in exploring a “scent flight” of eight plant-based essences from Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, transforming the abstract nature of smell into articulated lived experience. Teachers will learn how to integrate olfactory experiences in classroom settings with an emphasis on the relationship between spirituality and smellscape in various rites and rituals.

U-M Professor Jatin Dua will then provide an overview of the historical maritime trade of the Indian Ocean. Darin Stockdill will conclude with a discussion with participants about strategies for teaching this knowledge in classrooms.

In the current climate of pandemic-induced disembodied communication and interaction, experiencing a sensory immersion collectively renews a sense of community for educators and students. Sensory-focused teaching inclusive of smell brings concepts and ideas across disciplines to life. Rite Smells is not a panacea for the virtual pandemic classroom. It is an underutilized and effective sensory-inclusive approach for virtual and in-person classrooms that is literally under our noses.

A scent kit of infused aroma inhalers will be provided to participants for use during the workshop. Educators will also receive a classroom-ready lesson plan focused on the historical trade of incense materials and spices created by the Center for Education Design, Evaluation and Research at the U-M School of Education. Michigan educators will be eligible for State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECHs) from the Michigan Department of Education.


Michelle Krell Kydd is a trained “nose” in flavor and fragrance evaluation. She creates Smell & Tell and Taste & Tell programming for the Ann Arbor District Library, the University of Michigan and clients in the private sector. Michelle received a finalist award from President Mark S. Schlissel at the 2016 Staff Innovation Awards, in recognition of unique presentations incorporating the sense of smell. Kydd, a native New Yorker, received flavor and fragrance evaluation training at Givaudan and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Kydd gave a prescient TEDxUofM talk on the subject of smell loss (anosmia) in 2015.

Jatin Dua is a socio-cultural anthropologist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. His research focuses on maritime piracy in the Indian Ocean and projects and processes of governance, law, and economy along the East African coast. His book, Captured at Sea: Piracy and Protection in the Indian Ocean, published by the University of California Press (2019), is a multi-sited ethnographic and archival engagement with maritime piracy and contestations over legitimate and illegitimate commerce in coastal East Africa. 

Darin Stockdill is the design coordinator at U-M’s Center for Education Design, Evaluation, and Research (CEDER). Before joining the staff of CEDER, Stockdill was the content area literacy consultant for the Oakland (Michigan) Schools for four years. His academic interests revolve around the connections between problem-based instruction and education for social justice, as well as the intersections of youth literacy practices and disciplinary literacies. He was also a classroom social studies and English teacher in Detroit for 10 years, working with both middle and high school students. 


The Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) at the International Institute is one of the oldest centers in the U.S. devoted to the Southeast Asian region. CSEAS seeks to promote a broader and deeper understanding of Southeast Asia, its people, histories, practices, and languages. The center is committed to creating a supportive environment where scholars, educators, students and community members have the opportunity to engage in dialogue related to Southeast Asia.

The Center for South Asian Studies (CSAS) at the International Institute is committed to promoting a broad, deep, and diverse understanding of South Asia and its histories, cultures, and peoples by providing resources for faculty, students and the community to learn and disseminate knowledge about the region.

The Center for Middle Eastern & North African Studies (CMENAS) at the University of Michigan provides a venue for faculty, students, and the community to learn and share knowledge through an active lecture series and various educational and research programs, and by partnering with a host of units across campus on projects of mutual interest.