Karen Christensen is an entrepreneur, environmentalist, and scholar who writes about the many ways women have gained and wielded power.
She is the owner and CEO of Berkshire Publishing Group, a controversial former trustee of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Press, a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations, associate in research at the Fairbank Center at Harvard University, and founder of the Train Campaign. In earlier days, she served on the board of the Content Division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), and when she lived in the UK she was a trustee of the Ecological Design Association, speaker on women’s issues for the UK Green Party, and founding member of the Women’s Environmental Network.
Karen is known for her work with Chinese companies and for publishing about China and sustainability. She was the senior academic editor of the Encyclopedia of Community (SAGE). As a young mother, she wrote a number of popular environmental books including Home Ecology and The Armchair Environmentalist. She was also senior editor of the International Encyclopedia of Women and Sports (Macmillan).
One of her current projects is coauthoring a new version of the classic, landmark guide to “third places,” The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg (1932-2022). Karen and Ray agreed that she would bring the book into the 21st century. In May 2023 their coauthored article on coffee shops as third places after COVID-19 appears in the UNESCO magazine, and among recent interviews is one in Bloomberg CityLab and another in BBC Worklife. Visit www.greatgoodplace.org for details.
Her articles have appeared in many publications including the Daily Telegraph Magazine and her books on green living were serialized in the Daily Express, Family Circle (UK), and Woman’s Own. Karen’s cover story in the Guardian Review, “Dear Mrs. Eliot,” was a memoir of her work with Valerie Eliot, second wife of T. S. Eliot, and she has published a variety of articles on Eliot’s women while working on a book entitled Too Near the Flame.
Read Karen’s past dispatches from the frontlines of international publishing (and from small-town New England) at the Berkshire Blog. Her current writing is at Karen’s Letter on Substack, where she is also going back to her early environmental activism with a newsletter called Home Ecology. As a publisher, she is expanding her list to include Black Studies, Women’s Studies, and much more on the environment, and launching a series of Very Very Short Introductions.