Knox intends to use the skills she gains from her MPP and Pearson fellowship to address international poverty and conflict.
Headshot of Claire Knox
Claire Knox

Originally from Annapolis, Maryland, Claire Knox grew up hearing stories of her grandfather’s work abroad. “My dad would often tell me stories about my grandfather and his time working overseas: he worked for USAID and its predecessor agencies in Latin America, North Africa, and Vietnam. Those stories sparked a real interest in the world for me. I also was fortunate enough to travel often when I was a kid, so I think those global perspectives are what encouraged me to pursue international affairs.”

Throughout her academic and professional career, Knox has used economic principles to address poverty and conflict issues in international contexts. In 2021, she earned her bachelor’s from George Washington University in international affairs and economics. While a student, she interned in political affairs for the Borgen Project, lobbying congressional offices to build support for poverty reduction legislation. She also worked as a research assistant for  a former U.S. Ambassador to Burundi. “I helped him compile a report that outlined investment potential and analyzed the political, economic, and social impacts of the investment climate across different sectors in Uganda.”

Knox has also had her research published. Her paper, Stabilize, Liberalize, Privatize, Failures of the Washington Consensus appeared in the Fall 2021 Southern California International Review. "My paper argues in favor of a human-rights-based approach—as  opposed to a neoliberal approach—to economic development within the context of several Andean Ridge countries. It looks at several case studies and analyzes the impact of neoliberal development approaches on poverty and community welfare.”

For the last year and a half, Knox has been a Peace Fellow at the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, which empowers peacebuilders to address the root causes of identity-based conflict and violent extremism in communities across the world. “I’ve been working on a program in Uganda that is investigating the informal Islamic school system in the country as a potential gateway to extremism. We’ve conducted a survey of more than 1,600 schools to inform policy and program decisions.”

Knox said that while she has gained solid experience in the field, she always knew she wanted to go to grad school. “I knew I wanted to pick up more technical skills, and public policy and Harris just went hand in hand for me,” she said. “Harris was my first choice. I love the blend of quantitative and qualitative skills that the courses offer and look forward to learning how to deal with real world constraints in the context of programmatic efforts—something I believe all policy organizations need to be mindful of.”

Knox will be joining Harris as a Pearson Fellow, having been well acquainted with The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts through her own work and studies. “Some of my colleagues have connections with staff at UChicago, and I have heard them talking about Pearson’s investigations into conflicts all over the world. I have also been following Professor Chris Blattman’s work, and the thought of being able to learn from him in any capacity is incredibly exciting.”

Finally, Knox is excited to become a part of the Harris community at large. “I definitely want to work my way into a few Harris Student Organizations, and I’m excited to be able to talk with people from all walks of life about issues that we are passionate about. It’s a community unlike any other, so it’s important for me to make the most of my time.”