Director & Associate Directors



Lance Bennett received his Ph.D. in political science from Yale University in 1974, and has taught since then at the University of Washington, where he is Ruddick C. Lawrence Professor Communication and Professor of Political Science. He is also founder and director of the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement (

Bennett has lectured internationally on media and information systems in civic life. His current research interests include: press-government relations and the quality of public information; communication and social movements; transnational activism; citizenship and youth civic engagement, digital media and political participation, and modeling the organization of technology enabled crowds. His current work focuses on how to better align thinking about the economy, democracy and the environment in order to build more equitable and sustainable human systems on the planet.


Associate Directors


Matthew Powers is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication. His research interests include journalism studies, political communication and comparative media.At present, he is working on two projects. The first examines the role of humanitarian and human rights NGOs as information providers in the changing landscape of international news. As legacy news media dedicate fewer resources to such news, NGOs have dramatically increased both the amount and types of information they produce for public consumption. Research in this area asks what these efforts look like in practice and whether they have any discernible impacts on humanitarian and human rights news. This project has produced numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and will culminate in a book manuscript on the topic.

The second project is a comparative analysis of metropolitan journalism in France and the United States. Taking two interestingly similar cities (Toulouse, Seattle) that are embedded in opposing media systems (France’s government subsidized, political/literary press; America’s highly commercialized, information/objectivity journalism), this research asks how and in what ways different media systems process shared economic, technological and professional challenges.

Powers received his Ph.D. in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. He teaches graduate and undergraduate classes on qualitative research methods, comparative media, and communication ethics. Before entering the academy, he worked as a journalist at the Burlington Free Press in Vermont.


Adrienne Russell is Mary Laird Wood Professor of Journalism and the Environment. Her research and teaching focus on the changing field of journalism. She studies the intersection of emerging technologies and pressing social problems, with an eye toward how these changes can cultivate innovation and new practices and values that bolster democratic and participatory publics. She has written on media producers in countries around the world. She spotlights ways national and transnational media systems in the networked era are evolving and explores the ways different media systems influence content and practice. Russell’s work includes study of activists, technologists, media publics and others who shape information products and spaces.  As part of the larger exploration of journalism and activism, Russell’s work explores several specific contemporary issues, including the climate crisis, surveillance, and protest movements.

Before joining the Department of Communication faculty at the University of Washington, Russell was Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Media, Film, and Journalism Studies and associate professor with a joint appointment in Media, Film, and Journalism and Emergent Digital Practices at the University of Denver. Before that, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Global Communication at the American University of Paris.  She has also held fellowships with the Annenberg Center at University of Southern California and the Department of Media and Communication at London School of Economics. You can read more about her work here.