Political Science Professor Michael Krasner is a well-known source on New York City and state politics for news outlets ranging from New York-1 News to CNN.com. Among his other areas of expertise are the development of a September 11 high school curriculum and citizenship-training programs; and a focus on food politics and global warming, which explores the effect of industrialized farming on the evolution of the American diet.
Michael Krasner has been teaching at Queens College since 1970, covering a wide range of topics from presidential, gubernatorial, and mayoral elections to American foreign policy, politics and media, and arms control. “I grew up in a family that talked politics around the dinner table,” Krasner says, recalling how his involvement in the peace movement of the early 1960s ultimately cemented his decision to teach politics.
But teaching at QC, according to Krasner, is a unique experience thanks to the school’s reputation as a champion of diversity. “It’s great to call roll and hear all the different names,” he says. “You really get a mental image of all the different places our students have come from: Africa, Central America, Dominican Republic.”
Krasner’s career is marked by impressive professional milestones, from lecturing in Haiti and providing political commentary to local media outlets such as 1010 WINS and NY1 to receiving two Fulbright Distinguished Professorship Awards.
Krasner co-directs the Taft Institute for Government, an independent, not-for-profit organization located at QC that promotes better understanding of the political process among young people. “The institute developed a curriculum that helps high school teachers present the events of Sept. 11,” Krasner explains. He also directs his department’s internship program, which offers students experience working for elected officials, private attorneys, the Queens DA’s office, media, advocacy groups, labor unions, and political consultants.
Krasner’s work often borders on activism. In 2002 he helped develop a community leadership, empowerment, and citizenship-training program for new immigrant, minority, and low-income groups in New York City. “We trained almost 200 parents and community leaders who have now become quite active,” Krasner says. “In Brooklyn, they replaced a school that was causing health problems.”
Food politics and global warming are of particular interest to Krasner, who commutes weekly to his home on six acres of land in Vermont, where he raises lambs, hens, and chickens. “The course I teach on food politics looks at the connections between how Americans eat and how the American diet has evolved and been influenced by corporatized and industrialized farming,” Krasner explains.
“Global warming is one of the most important issues our country now faces. If we don’t do something about it soon, it will be too late,” Krasner warns, citing a dangerous combination of powerful oil company lobbyists and right-wing conservatives that have waged a campaign to discredit the facts behind global warming.
“Many Americans think global warming is a hoax and a plot by liberals. But it’s real and it’s urgent,” Krasner cautions. “It’s a classic snowball rolling downhill. The rate at which it’s getting worse is increasing. I think we’re at a crisis point here.”
Books he recommends: Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma; Bill McKibben’s Earth and Fight Global Warming Now; Wendell Berry’s The Art of the Common Place.