Dr. Chris Benner is the Dorothy E. Everett Chair in Global Information and Social Entrepreneurship, and a Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He currently directs the Everett Program for Technology and Social Change and the Santa Cruz Institute for Social Transformation. His research examines the relationships between technological change, regional development, and the structure of economic opportunity, focusing on regional labor markets and the transformation of work and employment. His applied policy work centers on social and economic dimensions of technological change, workforce development policy, the structure, dynamics and evaluation of workforce intermediaries, and strategies for promoting regional equity.

Significant book publications include: Equity, Growth and Community (2015, with Manuel Pastor), which examines diversity and dynamics of regional knowledge communities, and their relationship to social equity and economic growth; Just Growth (2012, with Manuel Pastor) which helps uncover the subtle and detailed processes, policies and institutional arrangement that might help explain how certain regions around the country have been able to consistently link prosperity and inclusion; This Could Be The Start of Something Big (2009, with Manuel Pastor and Martha Matsuoka) which examines new regional movements around community development, policy initiatives, and social movement organizing; and Work in the New Economy (2002), an examination of the transformation of work and employment in the information economy, providing an original analysis of growing volatility in work demands and increasingly tenuous employment relations.

Dr. Benner’s work has also included: visiting or associate academic appointments at the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (University of Southern California), the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (Maynooth University, Ireland), the Industrial, Organisational and Labour Studies Program (University of kwaZulu-Natal in Durban), and the Society, Work and Development Institute (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg); evaluating workforce development programs for the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and the Keystone Research Center; providing research and technical assistance to a wide-range of public, private and non-profit agencies, including the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the California Energy Commission, the California Workforce Investment Board, the California Labor Federation, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Food Chain Workers Alliance among others; analyzing regional development strategies for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); and serving on advisory boards for the Center for Amazon Community Ecology, the Urban Habitat Program (San Francisco), the Center for Policy Initiatives (San Diego) and the California Economic Strategy Panel, among others.

He received his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

By this expert

All Together Now?: Inequality and Growth in US Metro Areas

Article | Sep 10, 2014

With the publication of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, the American public has become increasingly concerned about the scale and impact of inequality in economic life.

Featuring this expert

Equity and Growth Through Knowledge Based Economies

Video | Apr 26, 2016

Benner’s recent work with Manuel Pastor suggests the somewhat counterintuitive result that geographic regions with the most equitable distributions of wealth and influence also tend to have the highest growth.