PERE Affiliate Researchers

Chris Benner

Associate Professor, Community and Regional Development, and Chair of the Community Development Graduate Group at the University of California, Davis

Dr. Chris Benner is an Associate Professor of Community and Regional Development, and Chair of the Community Development Graduate Group at the University of California, Davis. He is also a research associate at the Keystone Research Center (Harrisburg), the Industrial, Organisational and Labour Studies Program at University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal (South Africa) and the Sociology of Work Program at University of Witwatersrand (South Africa). Professor Benner's recent book, co-authored with Manuel Pastor and Martha Matsuoka, is This Could Be The Start of Something Big: Social Movements for Regional Equity and the Future of Metropolitan America, which examines new regional movements around community development, policy initiatives, and social movement organizing, and their potential for promoting greater economic opportunity for disadvantaged residents in metropolitan areas.  He is also author of Work in the New Economy (2002) and co-author Staircases or Treadmills: Labor Market Intermediaries and Economic Opportunity in a Changing Economy (2007).

Benner's research focuses on 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 patterns. His applied policy work focuses on workforce development policy, the structure, dynamics and evaluation of workforce intermediaries, and strategies for promoting regional equity. Prior to joining UC Davis, he was an Assistant Professor of Geography at Pennsylvania State University. Prior to that, he was a research associate at Working Partnerships USA, a dynamic non-profit advocacy organization in Silicon Valley working to rebuild links between economic policy and community well-being. Benner's work has also included providing technical assistance to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), analyzing regional development strategies for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), evaluating workforce development programs for the Keystone Research Center and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and serving on technical advisory boards for the Urban Habitat Program (San Francisco), the Center for Policy Initiatives (San Diego) and the California Economic Strategy Panel. He received his doctorate in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact Information:


Phone: (530) 752-1805

  • Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE)
  • 950 W. Jefferson Blvd., JEF 102
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-1291