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Students in Dr. Madhavi Venkatesan’s class publish in Contemporary Justice Review

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Contemporary Justice Review published a special issue on bell hooks. Two papers by Dr. Madhavi Venkatesan and students in her Economics of Crime class were featured.

Designing engagement: a student-based perspective of the economics of crime


This paper, developed by participants in an Economics of Crime course at Northeastern University in conjunction with their professor, Madhavi Venkatesan, highlights student perspectives of the relationship between the economic system, its operations and institutions, and the marginalization and victimization of Black people. The paper addresses specific attributes of the course curriculum that facilitated student understanding of these topics, and in doing so suggests an alternative pedagogy for discussing crime from an economics disciplinary perspective. The inclusion of historical context in the criminalization of race and poverty aligns to bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress, as course engagement centers on social context and responsibility while also critically assessing economic models of crime that have arguably obscured the relationship between racial discrimination, economic opportunity, legitimized slavery, and monetization of human life, and instead have provided credibility to economic incentives for crime by assuming rational behavior and free will. Additionally, inclusion of the causes and criminalization of groups and resulting student outcomes from the course provide an example of bell hooks’ learning community and reflects the engagement between students and their professor.

Link to abstract

PDF of paper


Noah Alper, BS Economics/Business Admin 2023

Alexis Baker, BA Intl Affairs/Economics

Stephen Bernard, Economics/Business Admin, Business Administration 2021

Paolo Lichtenthal, Economics/Business Admin, Business Administration, 2023

Katherine Murphy, BS Economics, 2023

Jackie Peterson, BS Criminal Justice, 2022 

Rayana Radueva,  BS Economics/Business Admin 2022

Anthea Simon BS Political Science/Economics 2021

Madhavi Venkatesan, Associate Teaching Professor in Economics

To cite this article:

Madhavi Venkatesan, Noah Alper, Alexis Baker, Stephen Bernard, Paolo Lichtenthal, Katherine Murphy, Jacklyn Peterson, Rayana Radueva & Anthea Simon (2023) Designing engagement: a student-based perspective of the economics of crime, Contemporary Justice Review, DOI: 10.1080/10282580.2023.2181289

Addressing race in economics: Teaching to Transgress


In economics, race is often used as an explanatory variable. However, context for observed correlations is not often discussed and when it is, the discussion truncates history to the 1960’s and the era of the Civil Rights movement. The latter is consistent with the projection that regulation has limited or eliminated racial disparity and therefore, other factors, cultural and individual, account for observed economic status. However, the evidence to counter this is observable. For example, to the extent that the intergenerational impact of oppression is factored into economic analysis, and qualitative attributes such as anxiety and depression are incorporated into the explanation for the persistence of poverty, social norms rather than race are revealed to be the contributors to present period variations in economic outcomes. Inspired by bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress we address how the teaching of economics has contributed to the normalization of racialized discrimination. We then address how the economics curriculum can be used as a tool to facilitate racial equity. The discussion adds value to the discourse on race by addressing how the commoditization of teaching has eliminated classroom engagement and critical thinking and concludes with the value of transgression in addressing social justice in economics.

Link to abstract

PDF of paper


Wenchunyan Liang, BS Economics/Business Admin, 2026

Emre Muftu, BS Economics, 2024

Darlene Rumenser,  BS Economics/Business Admin

Ira Sharma, BS Economics/Business Admin, 2024

Madhavi Venkatesan, Associate Teaching Professor in Economics

To cite this article:

Madhavi Venkatesan, Wenchunyan Liang, Emre Muftu, Ira Sharma & Darlene Rumenser (2023) Addressing race in economics: Teaching to Transgress, Contemporary Justice Review, DOI: 10.1080/10282580.2023.2181288

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