By Annie Chang
Following last February’s announcement of the inaugural Knight-Hennessy Scholars program cohort, the program, which is the largest fully-endowed graduate studies program in the world, announced two additional Scholars earlier this year. This brings the total count from 49 to 51.
Neither of the two new Scholars are exclusively pursuing humanities degrees.
In May, The Stanford Review published an opinion piece criticizing the lack of admitted Scholars pursuing degrees in exclusively humanities departments (as opposed to degrees in STEM and professional programs, or in both a humanities program and a STEM or professional one). The piece was titled, “No Humanities Students Won a Knight-Hennessy Scholarship. Why?”
The Daily subsequently published an op-ed arguing that the program is not suited for the open-ended nature of humanities scholarship anyways.
Now, with two newly-announced recipients — one pursuing a doctorate in history and a JD at Stanford Law School and the other studying marketing in the Graduate School of Business — the Scholars have increased in number without necessarily diversifying in disciplinary makeup.
Associate Director of Marketing and Communications for Knight-Hennessy Scholars Ari Chasnoff said the program could not “comment on individual admission decisions,” but added that “the preliminary report of 49 reflected only those scholars selected at that time who gave us permission to list them on our website.”
One of the two late additions, Magdalene Zier, expressed optimism that the STEM-humanities gap will close in the future.
“The Knight-Hennessy team is committed to welcoming more humanities students in future years,” said Zier, a first-year law student and PhD candidate in history.
Zier acknowledged that students in STEM fields may be overrepresented in the cohort, but expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to be in a community of students with diverse backgrounds and interests, citing the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in tackling global issues.
She added that such collaboration has already begun, as she and another Scholar recently joined the Art Committee at Denning House to promote the site as a center of scholarship and art.
Denning House is a new campus building meant to serve as a central hub for the Scholar community.
The Scholars program aims to develop “a community of future global leaders to address complex challenges through collaboration and innovation,” per the program’s website. To this end, Zier said she wants to “combine civil rights law and civil rights history in the hopes [of] addressing some of the inequities in contemporary America.”
Mohamed Hussein, the second of the two new Scholars and a PhD candidate in the Graduate School of Business with a focus on marketing, declined to be interviewed for this article.
Diana Li, one of the initial 49 Scholars and a first-year law student herself, said that the program reminds her of the social science and humanities studies she undertook while an undergraduate student at Yale.
“I loved [undergrad],” Li said. “It was similar in premise to the Knight Hennessy program in that it was an interdisciplinary way to approach issues.”
Li emphasized the collaborative nature of the Scholars cohort as a big part of the appeal for her.
“When I think about what I’m most proud of, it’s related to teamwork,” Li said. “The Knight Hennessy [Scholars] program has this collaboration that I find very compelling.”
Contact Annie Chang at annette.chang ‘at’ stanford.edu.