Karen Christensen is chief executive officer and owner of Berkshire Publishing Group and also a writer specializing in sustainability and community with a focus on China. 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.

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.

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).

In earlier days, she worked for Blackwell Science and the T. S. Eliot Estate (“Dear Mrs. Eliot” a memoir about working with Valerie Eliot, was a cover story in the Guardian Review) before writing a bestselling environmental handbook. 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 returned to the United States in 1992 and worked with the Council on Foreign Relations as managing editor of the Encyclopedia of U.S. Foreign Relations. In 1998, she came up with the idea for an Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, which her new company developed for Charles Scribners Sons.

She is the creator and publisher of the 10-volume Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability, the definitive educational resource written by 1,000 expert authors and now translated into Chinese.