Christina Elson - Center for the Study of Capitalism


Christina Elson

Christina Elson

Executive Director

elsonc@wfu.edu | 336-758-3740 |


Christina is a firm believer in the value of interdisciplinary thinking in fostering creativity and the development of an entrepreneurial mindset in supporting individual flourishing. To the Executive Director role Christina brings her background as an anthropologist and businessperson. Her business career has focused on designing realistic, executable strategies to successfully launch new initiatives and ventures while maintaining an underlying focus on continuous improvement. Her research career has focused on the creation and dissolution of shared elite identities and on the limits of early states. More recently, she has initiated projects exploring psychological traits and behaviors that support team success.

In college Christina pursued a career in anthropology, archaeology, and Spanish. She lived and studied in Mexico for five years beginning in 1987 for the next twenty years spent three to six months a year in Mexico and Peru conducting research funded by the National Science Foundation and other organizations. She did this as a researcher and educator with the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where she worked before and after graduating from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a PhD in Anthropology. Her dissertation on the limits of early states based on ideology, trade, elite interests, and bureaucracy was published by the University of Michigan Press and she has written numerous peer reviewed journal articles on New World civilizations. While at the American Museum she also collaborated on building online learning and research tools, including the archaeology Ology and a thesaurus to facilitate collections research.

Then, Christina was offered a unique opportunity to work for National Geographic Magazine. She joined a new initiative called Mission Projects to strategically amplify the outcome of the magazine’s investment in research and media partnerships. In this role she worked with other divisions such as online, books, television, and exhibitions to create media synergies and cost efficiencies and she traveled internationally to facilitate partnerships with scientists and government agencies.

In 2010 Christina and her husband Chris Sloan launched a boutique media firm called Science Visualization that specializes in integrated print media, graphics, animation, video, and exhibitions. Their clients include the Hong Kong Science Museum, the Kavli Foundation, and International Development Bank.  Science Visualization remains active under Chris’ leadership.

While attending the executive MBA program at the University of Maryland, the Smith School of Business received at $6 million-dollar gift from alumnus Ed Snider to open a new center dedicated to research and programming on enterprise and markets. Christina assumed the Managing Director role for the Ed Snider Center and from 2013 to 2019 focused on building the center and teaching courses including strategy and the capstone course for the QUEST honors program, a professional practicum pairing student teams and corporate clients on real-world projects. She also received a grant from the Kauffman Foundation to start The Inc. Tank podcast, where she interviews experts about the impact of technology such as blockchain, AI, and synthetic biology on industry and society.