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Erica Chenoweth, Ph.D. is the Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment and Academic Dean for Faculty Engagement at Harvard Kennedy School, a Faculty Dean at Pforzheimer House at Harvard College, and a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Chenoweth directs the Nonviolent Action Lab at Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, where they study political violence and its alternatives. They are particularly interested in how people effectively resist authoritarianism and push for systemic change, and in using social science tools and evidence to support movement-led political transformation. 

Chenoweth’s recent book Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know (2021, Oxford) explores in an accessible and conversational style what nonviolent civil resistance is, how it works, why it sometimes fails, how violence and repression affect it, and the long-term impacts of such resistance.

Chenoweth’s next book, with Zoe Marks, is Bread and Roses: Women on the Frontlines of Revolution. The book explores the impact of women’s participation on the outcomes of mass movements. In addition to exploring why women’s participation makes movements more likely to succeed, Marks and Chenoweth explore why gender-inclusive movements lead to progress in women’s empowerment in some cases and reversals in others, as well as how gender-inclusive movements impact the quality of egalitarian democracy more generally. (For a preview of their argument, see their article in Foreign Affairs.)

Along with Jeremy Pressman, Chenoweth is the founding co-director of the Crowd Counting Consortium (CCC), a collaborative public interest and research project that collects data on the size of political crowds protesting within the United States since January 2017. With support from the Russell Sage Foundation, Chenoweth and Pressman are using data gleaned from the CCC to lead a comprehensive study of the origins and impacts of the 2020 Antiracism Uprising in the United States, in collaboration with Kanisha Bond, Thomas Hayes, Zoe Marks, Shea Streeter, and Jay Ulfelder

Chenoweth’s other books include On Revolutions (Oxford, 2022) with Colin Beck, Mlada Bukovansky, George Lawson, Sharon Nepstad, and Daniel Ritter; The Role of External Support in Nonviolent Campaigns: Poisoned Chalice or Holy Grail? (ICNC, 2021) with Maria J. Stephan; Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence (Oxford, 2019) with Deborah Avant, Marie E. Berry, Rachel A. Epstein, Cullen Hendrix, Oliver Kaplan, and Timothy Sisk; The Oxford Handbook of Terrorism (Oxford, 2019) with Richard English, Andreas Gofas, and Stathis N. KalyvasThe Politics of Terror (Oxford, 2018) with Pauline Moore; Rethinking Violence: States and Non-State Actors in Conflict (MIT, 2010) with Adria Lawrence; Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Columbia University Press, 2011) with Maria J. Stephan; and Political Violence (Sage, 2013). Chenoweth has also published scholarly work in International Security, The Journal of PoliticsNature: Human Behaviour, Science Advances, American Sociological Review, Journal of Democracy, British Journal of Political Science, Annual Review of Political Science, The Journal of Peace Research, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Mobilization: An International Quarterly, Journal of Human Rights, Political Research Quarterly, and PLoS ONE, among others.

In 2014, Chenoweth received the Karl Deutsch Award, which the International Studies Association gives annually to the scholar under the age of 40 who has made the greatest impact on the field of international politics or peace research. Foreign Policy magazine has ranked Chenoweth among the Top 100 Global Thinkers for their efforts to promote the empirical study of nonviolent resistance. And together with Maria J. Stephan, they won the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, which is presented annually in recognition of outstanding proposals for creating a more just and peaceful world order. Their book, Why Civil Resistance Works, also won the 2012 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award, given annually by the American Political Science Association in recognition of the best book on government, politics, or international affairs published in the U.S. in the previous calendar year. Chenoweth is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

At Harvard, Chenoweth serves as a Faculty Dean of Pforzheimer House. Chenoweth is Core Faculty at the Ash Center on Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a Faculty Affiliate of the and the Women and Public Policy Program and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and a Faculty Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.

A respected teacher, Chenoweth received HKS’s Innovations in Teaching Award in 2021. Before coming to Harvard, Chenoweth taught at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and Wesleyan University, where they received the Carol A. Baker Memorial Prize for excellence in junior faculty research and teaching.

Chenoweth has presented their research all over the world at various activist workshops and trainings, academic and scientific conferences, government briefings and workshops, and intergovernmental organizational panels. They have held fellowships at HarvardStanford UniversityUC-Berkeley, and the University of Maryland, the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), the One Earth Future Foundation, and the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Chenoweth has also served in advisory positions at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, the Peace Science Society International, and the International Studies Association. Their research and commentary has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Economist, The Boston Globe, TEDxBoulder, The New Republic, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Hidden Brain, Planet Money, and elsewhere.

Along with Barbara F. Walter of UCSD and Joseph K. Young of American University, Chenoweth co-edited the online magazine Political Violence @ a Glance, which won multiple OAIS Awards for Best Group Blog in 2018 and 2014 and Most Promising New Blog in 2013. Chenoweth has also won two individual OAIS blogging awards for Best Blog Post in 2018 and 2014. Chenoweth formerly hosted a blog called Rational Insurgent and has been an occasional contributor at The Monkey Cage and Duck of Minerva.

Chenoweth received an M.A. and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado and a B.A. in political science and German from the University of Dayton. Beyond their scholarship, service, and advocacy, Chenoweth experiments with sustainable farming and maple sugaring on the small farm they share with their partner. 

Chenoweth was an International Security Program Predoctoral Fellow (2006–2007), a postdoctoral fellow (2007–2008), and an associate (2008–2010).

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