Christi Smith

Christi Smith

Senior Lecturer in Global Studies
PhD, Indiana University
research interests:
  • Migration
  • Education
  • Inequality
  • Caste
  • Organizations
  • Social Theory

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1088
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Christi Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Global Studies. She is interested in how educational systems, politics, and organizations shape processes of social inclusion and exclusion.

Dr. Smith has published in several academic journals, including the DuBois Review, Law & Social Inquiry, and Race and Justice. Her book, Reparation and Reconciliation: The Rise and Fall of Integrated Higher Education, was reviewed by the American Journal of Sociology, the American Journal of History, and Contemporary Sociology, among others.

Dr. Smith has been a visiting scholar at the University of Aarhus (Denmark) and the University of Mannheim (Germany), and mostly recently taught a service-learning course focused on refugee incorporation at the University of Konstanz (Germany). 

Christi graduated from Smith College with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. After working in refugee services in Copenhagen, policy advising in Washington, DC, and teaching as part of Teach for America in North Carolina, Smith earned a Masters in Education Policy and PhD in Sociology at Indiana University.

Recent Courses

Equity, Merit and Social Change: Higher Education Policy in International Comparison

Colleges and universities have long been sites for state development and political expression. Over the past decade, we have seen major protests focused on university campuses that draw attention to legacies of exclusion and oppression, economic accessibility, and decolonializing curricula. With the rise of neoliberal economic policies, universities are increasingly engaged in global competition. Yet, debate about who should go to college, for what purpose, and the social benefit of higher education is a very old one. This course places policy around racial and ethnic diversity and economic mobility in international comparison through the development of sustained case studies. The first half of the course is dedicated to developing concepts and questions, often through a focus on the US. The latter section delves deeply into case studies and developing tools for making cross-national comparisons.

    Ampersand: Comparative Refugee Resettlement and Integration

    How do people whose lives have been disrupted by trauma - often by war, but also other forms of state violence - make a new home? How do differences in political and welfare state development shape the social organization of refugee incorporation? How do governments, civil society organizations, and peers shape these processes? We focus primarily on three major national contexts: The US, Denmark, and Germany. Why these three states? One of our concerns is to understand how national context and within-country variation - that is, the history, political development, cultures, and contours of the welfare state model - shape the potential for persons fleeing trauma in their country of origin to resettle. This class focuses on asylum-seekers and refugees who make their way to Denmark and Germany and we use examples from the US as additional comparative case. We will examine a range of sources - from scholarly books and articles, supranational, and governmental sources, and from the artistic and journalistic projects devoted to elevating the voices of displaced persons - to gain a broad understanding of the topics at hand. Part of this class includes the opportunity to learn from a local partner school district striving to improve connections to students and families who arrived as refugees. As part of your coursework, you will create a project for the school district that responds to district needs. Students in this year-long Ampersand course will also have the opportunity to join an optional study trip to Morocco and Germany in May. Course is for first-year, non-transfer students only.

      War and Peace

      What happens when wars end? This course examines social experiences around violent conflict and its aftermath. How does the portrayal and memory of war shape future possibilities - whether in terms of social policy or ideas about civic inclusion? How does martial conflict shape social policies? We examine war and the social experiences of those adjacent to geopolitical conflict through the experiences of survivors, policy makers, soldiers and families, and international relief agencies. Our emphasis is in understanding the social implications of war - what are the social consequences of martial conflict and how is war represented to those not directly involved? How is war and its aftermath witnessed and how is its commemoration and remembrance constitutive for future action?



        Smith, Christi M. 2016. Reparation and Reconciliation: The Rise and Fall of Integrated Higher Education. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

        Selected Articles

        Smith, Christi M. 2019. Race and Higher Education: Fields, Forms, and Expertise. Research in the Sociology of Organizations. Race, Organizations, and the Organizing Process: Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Volume 60, 25 48.

        Nyseth Brehm, Hollie, Christi M. Smith, and Evelyn Gertz*. 2018. Producing Expertise in a Transitional Justice Setting: Judges at Rwanda’s Gacaca Courts. Law & Social Inquiry 44(1): 78-101.

        Smith, Christi M. 2017. “The Demise of Integration: Competition, Diffusion and Ethnographic Expertise in the Emergent Field of Higher Education, 1865-1915.” DuBois Review: Social Science Research on Race 14(1).