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S. Victoria Shen

Photo of S. Victoria Shen

S. Victoria Shen

Ph.D. Candidate


Shiran Victoria Shen is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Stanford University. Her research explores how incentives shape environmental politics, with four areas of substantive inquiry: 1) political pollution cycles, 2) environmental causes and consequences of government policies, 3) public opinion on the environment and 4) emerging technologies and society. Victoria believes interdisciplinary techniques can help us generate new data, reveal new patterns, and offer new insights into important questions. Hence, she seeks to integrate relevant techniques from political science, engineering, earth systems, computer science, and other disciplines to illuminate problems of energy and the environment. While pursuing the Ph.D. in political science, Victoria also completed an M.S. in civil & environmental engineering, with a concentration in atmosphere and energy, at Stanford. She graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in political science and environmental studies in 2012.

Victoria's book-style dissertation theorizes and illuminates a critical, new determinant for environmental policy implementation: local political tenure cycles. Victoria delves into how career incentives of local political leaders influence their prioritization of multiple – some of which are complementary while others are contradictory – policy targets and implementation. Using remote sensing, observational data, and qualitative fieldwork, Victoria finds that political tenures of prefectural leaders in China during 2000 -- 2010 foster what she calls a “political pollution cycle,” where economic activities are strategically timed so that the delivery of economic achievements bodes well for the career advancement of local political leaders, but at the same time contributes unintentionally to air pollution at considerable human costs. Victoria scrutinizes various measures to break such cycles across China and tests the external validity of her theory with evidence from the United States and Mexico.

Victoria's works have appeared in the Journal of Cleaner Production (ranked no.1 journal in the category of sustainable development by Google Scholar), and have won best paper awards from the American Political Science Association, the Southern Political Science Association, and the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Her research has been very generously funded by the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford China Center, Stanford Center for International Development, the School of Humanities and Sciences, and the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, as well as by the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy.

Victoria has served as a teaching assistant for "The American West," "Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law," and "Chinese Politics: Transformation and the Era of Reform."

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