Rosemary Russ

Position title: Associate Professor, Curriculum and Instruction


Dr. Russ comes to research on the criminal legal system via a circuitous route. After receiving her PhD in Physics from the University of Maryland, she expanded her work into the Learning Sciences in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. She joined the faculty of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at UW Madison in 2012. In her work, she uses qualitative research methods to understand what kinds of knowledge and whose knowledge are valued in different learning contexts.

In 2019, she began exploring knowledge and learning in criminal legal contexts. Her work includes two strands. In the first, she supports the development and study of learning environments inside correctional facilities. As part of this work, she is the coordinator for the tutoring program inside the Dane County jail and is also the co-PI on a project putting a Bachelor Degree program inside Wisconsin prisons. In her second line of work, she studies what the public learns about incarceration by hearing the wisdom and stories of those directly impacted by the criminal legal system. She works closely with the statewide, community non-profit EXPO of Wisconsin (Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing) to conduct this work. In both of these strands, Dr. Russ seeks to understand whether and how people attribute knowledge to those who are formerly incarcerated. Central to all of Dr. Russ’ work is a commitment creating authentic relationships with system-impacted individuals that are built on mutual respect and humility and which explicitly reject the common power dynamic where white university researchers set both the agenda and process for work with non-profits founded by people of color.