Faculty Profile

Global Studies Faculty

Tara Natarajan, PhD

Associate Professor of Economics

Ph.D. University of Nebraska at Lincoln
M.A. University of Bombay, India
B.A. Sophia College, India

Areas of Expertise:

Applied research on development and poverty: food, agrarian change, capitalist transformation, development activism in India.

Courses I Teach:

  • Development Economics
  • History of Economic Thought and Policy
  • Microeconomic Theory
  • Senior Seminar
  • World Economies

My Saint Michael's:

I like the fact that my students and I have a truly meaningful student-teacher relationship. They know me and I know them. Our college engenders mentoring as an ethos which when combined with manageable class sizes, makes it really possible for me to contact students personally and let them know that I care, not only about their understanding of the subject but also their well-being as a person through their educational experience.

After 10 years of being a faculty member here, I have realized how much this connection with students, matters to me. The kind of personal investment we make in each one of our students is a mutually reinforcing process between students, faculty and all those who are connected with students outside of classes as well, all of which is embedded in our evolving institutional ethos and collective values.

Applied Research:

Development and Poverty: Food, Agrarian Change, Capitalist Transformation, Development activism in India.

Theoretical Research:

Economic Thought and Methodology — Comparative contributions: Paradigm shift in contemporary economics; Integrated methods for practical real-world problems; de-constructing behavioral assumptions in economics.

Collaborative research on rural poverty among Native Alaskans with Dr. Wayne Edwards, currently visiting associate professor of economics at Middlebury College and formerly associate professor of economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage

My research is in the area of poverty and development studies primarily in relation to the Indian subcontinent. I am an institutional economist by training and primarily rely on field studies to conduct research. My research is on the capitalist transformation of agrarian India and its impact on the rural poor. This has lead me towards studying responses of the rural poor particularly that of development activism and action engaged in creating autonomous, food secure, self sufficient village communities in southern India. Research allows me the freedom to further the continuum of teaching and learning.

In recent years I have expanded my application of heterodox approaches to poverty analysis by investigating rural areas outside of India, which are impacted by severe rigidities. This has resulted in my collaborative research on rural poverty among Native Alaskans with Dr. Wayne Edwards who is an associate professor of economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage. I am expanding my application of heterodox approaches to poverty analysis by investigating rural areas outside of India, which are impacted by severe rigidities.

In addition to several national and international conference papers, international development workshops, field work, and book review I have published articles in the Journal of Economic Issues, The Forum for Social Economics, Native Studies Review. My most recent work is a book entitled Institutional Analysis and Praxis: The Social Fabric Matrix edited by Tara Natarajan, Scott Fullwiler and Wolfram Elsner (Springer, Summer 2009).

Life Off Campus:

I live in Hinesburg, VT with my husband and daughter. If I could, I would live in Vermont, Norway, Alaska and India simultaneously! Aside from economics, I am a trained south Indian classical singer and participate in Indian dance performances. I am on the board of the Friends of Indian Music and Dance. Music, food preparation, art in everyday living and language are all interwoven organically into my everyday home and life in Vermont. 

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