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Karen R. Polenske
Professor of Regional Political Economy and Planning

People > Faculty ProfiLes > Karen Polenske

Q. Who most influenced your work as a scholar of international development and why?

Polenske: My parents who continually encouraged me to do new and innovative work and who helped those in our farming community who were in need, regardless of age, sex, or social position, thus instilling in me the value of rural life and the desire to learn. Professor Wassily W. Leontief, who was my dissertation advisor, for his confidence in having me lead the regional work at the Harvard Economic Research Project and his desire to present the most complex issues in as simple a way as feasible.

Q. What is your research focus?

Polenske: I currently conduct research in three areas. (1) comparative analyses of energy use, pollution generation, and industrial-technology options in the People’s Republic of China (China), Brazil, and India; (2) land-recycling in China to examine effects of regional and industrial restructuring on the physical and social infrastructure, and (3) regional implications of fuel use on food security in the United States.

Q. Please tell us about of your most recent publications of note.


Karen R. Polenske, ed. 2006. The Technology-Energy-Environmental-Health (TEEH) Chain in China: A Case Study of Cokemaking. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Press/Springer. [Chinese language version, 2006, published by Higher Education Press, Beijing].

Karen R. Polenske, ed. 2007. The Economic Geography of Innovation. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. [Chinese language version, 2009, published by Higher Education Press, Beijing].

Karen R. Polenske and Roberto Guerrero Compeán. 2009. ”Regional, Economic, and Environmental Implications of Dual Ethanol Technologies in Brazil.” Presented at the 17th International Input-Output Conference in São Paolo, Brazil, July 14.

Patrick Canning, Ainsley Charles, Sonya Huang, Karen R. Polenske, and Arnold Waters. 2010. “Energy Use in the U.S. Food System”. U.S. Dept. of Agri., Econ. Res. Serv. Economic Research Report No. 94 (ERR-94) 39 pp, (March 2010)

Hongtao Liu, Karen R. Polenske, Youmin Xi, and Ju’e Guo. 2010. “Comprehensive Evaluation of Effects of Straw-based Electricity Generation: A Chinese Case.” Accepted for publication in Energy Policy, June 1, 2010 (article in press). doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.06.001

Q. What are some of your most recent public lectures?


Karen R. Polenske. 2010. “Regional Innovation Clusters in China: A Problem or a Solution?” Talk presented at the Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS) Symposium in Changsha, China, August 21.

Karen R. Polenske. 2009. ”Kicking Away Industrial Policy Myths—A Response to Ha-Joon Chang’s Plenary paper.” ABCDE (Annual World Bank Conference on Development Economics). Seoul, South Korea, June 22.