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Shiran Shen

Shiran Shen

Ph.D. Candidate


Shiran Shen is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Stanford University. Her research explores how incentives shape environmental politics, with three areas of substantive inquiry: 1) political pollution cycles, 2) environmental consequences of government policies, and 3) public opinion on the environment. Shiran 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. Shiran received an M.S. in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Stanford University and a B.A. in Political Science and Environmental Studies from Swarthmore College.

Shiran's book-style dissertation theorizes and illuminates a critical, new determinant for environmental policy implementation: local political tenure cycles. Shiran extends the political business cycle approach to delve 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, Shiran 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. Shiran scrutinizes various measures to break such cycles across China and test the external validity of my theory with evidence from the United States and Mexico using textual analysis and other techniques.

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

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

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