Kim Christensen

BA, Earlham College. PhD, University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Taught economics and women’s/gender studies (1985-2010) at SUNY-Purchase, where she received several awards for her teaching: four-time recipient of the Students’ Union Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Letters and Sciences; the first recipient of the President’s Award for Innovative Pedagogy; and, in 1992, recipient of the statewide SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished College Teaching. Taught economics, labor history, and public policy as a guest faculty member at Sarah Lawrence College. Research focuses on the intersection of economics with public policy issues, with a particular emphasis on issues of race, gender, class, and labor; e.g., the experiences of low-income women in the AIDS crisis, the politics of welfare “reform,” the “gendered” nature of the recent recession, and the impact of our campaign finance system on public policy. SLC, 2008–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Economics

Introduction to Economic Theory and Policy

Open , Lecture—Year

Economics has a profound impact on all of our lives—from where we live and go to school to what we do for a living, how we dress, and how we entertain ourselves. Economics is also crucially intertwined with the social and political issues that we care about, from global warming to poverty and discrimination. This yearlong course introduces a variety of approaches to economics—including neoclassical, Keynesian, behavioralist, Marxian, and feminist—and encourages students to apply these contrasting perspectives to current economic issues. We conclude with an exploration of the causes and consequences of the recent financial and economic crisis.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Previous Courses

Workers in the Globalized Economy

Open , Seminar—Year

Globalization, neoliberal political institutions, and information technology have created foundational changes in the structure and content of work, both in the United States and around the globe. These changes have also had an enormous impact on workers’ traditional modes of organizing and on their ability to pursue their economic and political interests. Today, only 6.7% of private-sector workers in the United States belong to unions. Partly as a result, inequality in the United States today rivals that of the pre-Depression 1920s, our (already modest) welfare state is in retreat, and political discourse and policy have become increasingly reflective of the interests of the wealthy. This course will explore the state of US workers (both native-born and immigrant) from the Civil War to the present. We’ll examine the major changes in the structure of the US economy (e.g., from small, competitive firms to huge, transnational oligopolies) and the implications of these changes for workers’ lives and the possibilities for organizing. We’ll explore the history of workers’ attempts to organize and the obstacles to their success, including divisions by race, gender, nativity, and sexual orientation/identity. We’ll examine recent efforts—such as worker centers, social movement unionism, and nonprofit organizing—to improve the conditions of workers outside a traditional union framework. And, time permitting, we’ll compare the state of the US labor movement with that of workers in selected countries. Requirements for the course include frequent, short papers on the readings, regular class presentations, and a yearlong group research project. Additionally, students will be expected to participate in, and reflect upon, a service learning project with a labor-related organization (e.g., an immigrant worker center, a union, or an advocacy organization) in New York City.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Political Economy of Women

Open , Lecture—Year

What factors determine the status of women in different societies and communities? What role is played by women’s labor, both inside and outside of the home? By cultural norms regarding sexuality and reproduction? By religious traditions? After a brief theoretical grounding, this course will address these questions by examining the economic, political, social, and cultural histories of women in the various racial/ethnic and class groupings that make up the United States. Topics to be explored include: the role of women in the Iroquois Confederation before white colonization and the factors that gave Iroquois women significant political and social power in their communities; the status of white colonist women in Puritan Massachusetts and the economic, religious, and other factors that led to the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692; the position of African American women under slavery, including the gendered and racialized divisions of labor and reproduction; the growth of competitive capitalism in the North and the development of the “cult of true womanhood” in the rising middle class; the economic and political changes that accompanied the Civil War and Reconstruction and the complex relationships between African American and white women in the abolitionist and women’s rights movements; the creation of a landless agricultural labor force and the attempts to assimilate Chicana women into the dominant culture via “Americanization” programs; the conditions that encouraged Asian women’s immigration and their economic and social positions once here; the American labor movement and the complicated role that organized labor has played in the lives of women of various racial/ethnic groups and classes; the impact of US colonial policies on Puerto Rican migration and Puerto Rican women’s economic and political status on both the Island and the mainland; the economic/political convulsions of the 20th century, from the trusts of the early 1900s to World War II, and their impact on women’s paid and unpaid labor; the impact of changes in gendered economic roles on LGBT communities; the economic and political upheavals of the 1960s that led to the so-called “second wave” of the women’s movement; and the current position of women in the US economy and polity and the possibilities for inclusive public policies concerning gender and family issues.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

Political Economy of Women

Open , Lecture—Year

What factors determine the status of women in different societies and communities? What role is played by women’s labor, both inside and outside of the home? By cultural norms regarding sexuality and reproduction? By religious traditions? After a brief theoretical grounding, this course will address these questions by examining the economic, political, social, and cultural histories of women in the various racial/ethnic and class groupings that make up the United States. Topics to be explored include: the role of women in the Iroquois Confederation before white colonization and the factors that gave Iroquois women significant political and social power; the status of white colonist women in Puritan Massachusetts and the factors that led to the Salem witchcraft trials; the position of African American women under slavery, including the gendered and racialized divisions of labor and reproduction; the growth of competitive capitalism in the North and the development of the “cult of true womanhood” in the rising middle class; the economic and political changes during Reconstruction and the complex relationships between African American and white women in the abolitionist and women’s rights movements; the creation of a landless agricultural labor force and the attempts to assimilate Chicana women into the dominant culture via “Americanization” programs; the conditions that encouraged Asian women’s immigration; the American labor movement and the complicated role that organized labor has played in the lives of women of various racial/ethnic groups and classes; the impact of US colonial policies on Puerto Rican migration and Puerto Rican women’s economic and political status; the economic/political convulsions of the 20th century—from the trusts of the early 1900s to World War II—and their impact on women’s paid and unpaid labor; the impact of changes in gendered economic roles on LGBT communities; the economic and political upheavals of the 1960s that led to the so-called “second wave” of the women’s movement; and, finally, the current position of women in the US economy and the possibilities for inclusive public policies concerning gender and family issues.

Faculty
Related Disciplines

This Time Is Different: Money and Financial Crises in Historical Perspective

Open , Seminar—Year

This course will explore the functions and meanings of money from the earliest known use of trading accounts in ancient Ur to the world financial crisis of 2008 and beyond. After a brief foray into the theory and mechanics of money, we will begin by addressing a variety of historical issues, including: the changing role of money and credit in pre-capitalist economic systems; the role of money and credit in medieval Europe and in Europe’s transition to capitalism; the relationship between hegemonic international powers (e.g., Pax Britanica) and international currency systems; the US banking disaster of the late 1920s/early 1930s and the changing role of the state vis-à-vis US banking (e.g., the Glass Steagall Act); postwar Pax Americana and the Bretton Woods system, including the development of modern tools of monetary policy; globalization, neoliberalism, and the increasing incidence of international currency crises; currency crises in developing countries (e.g., the Mexican and Asian crises); the IMF’s structural adjustment policy responses and their implications for development; a detailed analysis of the 2008 world financial crisis and of the US and international responses (e.g., TARP, CCAR, Fed “special facilities,” and Dodd-Frank); and the tools of and prospects for stabilizing the domestic and international financial systems in the wake of 2008 (e.g., Basel III). Along the way, we’ll address a variety of theoretical issues from both orthodox and heterodox perspectives. In addition to regular short papers on a variety of assigned readings, students will work in groups to research and make presentations on topics related to international finance (e.g., the Swedish banking crisis of the early 1990s and that government’s response); Islamic banking and finance: its meanings and dynamics; questions of currency exchange rate manipulation for purposes of competitive advantage (e.g., the Chinese renminbi); and the viability and future of the Euro.

Faculty
Related Disciplines