Emily Russell is U-M's newest Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford University!

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program aims to prepare a new generation of global leaders with a deep academic foundation and the skills to develop creative solutions and effect positive change in the world. 

Emily is excited and hopeful as she faces the next chapter in her academic career. “I applied to Knight-Hennessy because I care about research being used for tangible change,” she said “and I know it takes a lot of experts, across fields, to accomplish that. I wanted to join a cohort of experts across disciplines to collaborate on making a better world.” 

A current undergraduate in the LSA Honors Program, Emily will graduate this semester with her degree in Political Science (B.A) and Environmental Studies (B.A). Following graduation, she will use the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in Political Science at the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences, while focusing on issues of state security, conflict and peace.

Emily with a team of researchers at the Trivedi Centre for Political Data in India.

While at U-M, Emily researched international human rights law with Barbara Koremenos and worked as a research assistant for Christopher Fariss tracking the influence of NGOs on international environment policy diffusion through big data analysis.

Internationally, Emily spent time researching global disarmament at the Icelandic Human Rights Center in Reykjavik, Iceland, and later worked in Delhi, India studying security force violence at the Trivedi Centre for Political Data under the guidance of Dr. Priyamvada Trivedi. Emily is also affiliated with numerous projects of Christian Davenport’s, including examining state repression for inclusion in his “Disturbing Spells” book project, and as an assistant on his project, Consequences of Contention.

In addition to research, she has also applied herself extensively in the creative arts. “The second major pillar of my work is playwriting and using the creative arts for global peacebuilding.” said Emily, “I hope to continue to lead creative arts interventions as initiatives of peacebuilding in post-conflict societies.” 

Playwriting for Peace in Pristina, Kosovo.

Using a grant awarded by the Kathryn Davis Projects for Peace, Emily co-founded Playwriting for Peace, a 5-week summer program for high schoolers in Pristina, Kosovo, in 2019. The program uses applied theatre workshops as an intervention for geopolitical peacebuilding.

Earlier this year, Emily recieved a Hopwood Award for her full-length play “Beat,” which will be produced in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance’s annual new works festival, Playfest. Emily's work has also been published in the Michigan Journal of International Affairs and The Michigan Daily

“The experience of applying to Knight-Hennessy helped me go backward in time, tracing my steps, to understand what influences have led me to study and dedicate my career to the topics that I do,” recalls Emily. “During the immersion weekend of interviews at Stanford, I met the other candidates and felt like I had immediately found a community. The people in the cohort... take the experiences of their lives and make them matter to causes beyond themselves.”

During her time at U-M, Emily has also been a recipient of the Matthew K Smith Study Abroad Scholarship for Political Science and was awarded the 2019 Beinecke Scholarship for research. The project website for Playwriting for Peace can be found here playwriting4peace.wixsite.com, and more of Emily’s writing is available on her personal website: emilyrus.wixsite.com.


All photos courtesy of Emily Russell, 2020.