Dr. Erskine was born and raised in the mountains of North Carolina and considers himself a Southern boy. But Erskine has spent much of his life outside the South after leaving for college. He spent three years as an undergraduate just outside London, England, and then spend a year teaching on a small island in the Marshall Islands, Micronesia. After getting his career started teaching high school in Upstate New York, Erskine and his wife Marla and two boys, Kellen and Ian, moved to Asia where Kris was both a teacher and vice-principal at an American School in Taipei, Taiwan. After one year the parent company of his school transferred him to Hong Kong where he opened a new American high school while simultaneously acted as director of a new partnership with a Chinese school in the southern city of Guangzhou. While living in Hong Kong Erskine completed his Ph.D. at The University of Hong Kong in the history of Chinese-U.S. relations, primarily focusing on the 1930s and 1940s. In 2012 the Erskine family left Hong Kong and moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee where Kris began teaching full-time in a history department. After several years Kris decided he wanted to be connected to the education side of university teaching and made the move back to high school education. Erskine teaches in both the education department and the history department at Athens State University and loves being here.
Kris’ wife Marla is on the nursing faculty at a university near Chattanooga. His boys are both in high school.
Ph.D., History, The University of Hong Kong, 2014
M.S., Social Science, Syracuse University, 2008
M.A., International Relations, Troy State University, 2005
M.S., Education, Atlantic Union College, 2004
B.A., History / Religion, Andrews University, 1996
Dr. Erskine’s research interests focus on twentieth-century American cultural history, particularly in the south. Specifically, he is interested in the interplay between religion and politics in this region. Erskine’s research considers the missionary impulse in China – understanding how the missionary of the 1930s and 1940s left a larger imprint on American foreign policy in the United States than on the religious life of the Chinese.
Erskine is working on a couple of projects. The first is a case study on how non-state actors shaped American public opinion, and in this case how the Chinese government-funded American missionaries and enlisted their help to shift American foreign policy just prior to World War II. This is a particularly relevant topic in today’s political climate. The second project on which Erskine is working is a history of commercial sweet cake, pie, and cookie-baking in the south. This project centers on the rise of the McKee family, and other local and regional commercial baking families, and raises many questions about southern food and its impact on southern culture and history.
U.S. History to 1865
U.S. History from 1865
American Foreign Policy since World War II
History Content Area Methods and Materials
Awards and Grants
NEH Summer Institute, Slavery and the Constitution, Washington D.C., 2018
McKee Library Research Grant, Southern Adventist University, 2017
NEH Summer Institute, China and America, Calvin College, 2015
Taiwan Fellowship, Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2012
George C. Marshall Foundation Baruch Fellowship, 2012
University of Hong Kong Research Grant, 2011
“Adelphian Academy,” The Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Forthcoming, encyclopedia to be published in 2020.
“Milo Academy Academy,” The Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Forthcoming, encyclopedia to be published in 2020.
“Fletcher Academy,” The Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. The article requested by encyclopedia editors, encyclopedia to be published in 2020.
“Gem State Academy Academy,” The Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. The article requested by encyclopedia editors, encyclopedia to be published in 2020.
China’s American Advisor: Frank W. Price, Missionary Advisor to Chiang Kai-shek (tentatively titled manuscript, in progress).
“Frank and Harry Price: Diplomatic Backchannels between the United States and China During World War II,” The American Journal of Chinese Studies (October 2017).
“Missionary Diplomacy: The Genesis of the China Lobby in the United States and how Missionaries Shifted American Foreign Policy between 1938 and 1941,” The Journal of American-East Asian Relations (2017).
Conference & Presentation Highlights
“American Public Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics: Missionaries in the (China) Lobby, 1938-1941,” presented at American Association for Chinese Studies annual conference, October 2017.
“You are Not Going to North Korea!” The lecture was given at La Sierra University, June 2017.
“Donald Trump: The First Six Months.” Luncheon talk at the “55+ Club” in Chattanooga, June 2017.
“You have to actually know history to teach it.” Convocation talk was given to Southern Adventist University Department of Education, January 2017.
“Dear Smart People,” a lecture for the Southern Adventist University Southern Scholars, December 2016.
“American Public Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics: Missionaries in the (China) Lobby, 1938-1941,” presented at The Association of Seventh-day Adventist Historians conference, March 2016.
Moderator for an American Historical Association panel on the history of American missionaries in China at the January 2016 annual convention in Atlanta.