School of International Service

Global Environmental Politics

4400 Massachusetts Ave NW

Washington, DC 20016


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Ph.D. in Environmental Politics and International Relations from American University
M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley
M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana
B.A. in Anthropology and East Asian Studies from Princeton University

Judith Shapiro is the Director of the Global Environmental Politics MA Programs at American University.

One of the first Americans to work in China after the normalization of U.S.-China relations in 1979, Shapiro taught journalism and literature to more than 600 students and faculty in Changsha, Hunan from 1979 to1981.  Her marriage to a Chinese literature student launched a career as a writer and commentator on Chinese issues.  Other professional experience includes co-founding and writing grants for The Chinese Intellectual (Zhishifenzi) a Chinese-language scholarly quarterly circulated in China and the West intended to encourage China's development toward a more open society.  Fluent in Chinese, Professor Shapiro occasionally serves as a legal interpreter in the District of Columbia and is a frequent guest on the Voice of America’s Chinese programs.

Professor Shapiro has also taught at the University of  Pennsylvania, Villanova University, the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, and the University of Aveiro in Portugal.  She lectured in China for the U.S. Department of State on the diversity of environmental non-governmental organizations in Western countries.

Her current research is in the political and social dynamics of environmental degradation, and sustainable development in China.

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Judith Shapiro’s latest book, Mao’s War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China (Cambridge University Press) describes how Mao's insistence that "Man Must Conquer Nature" supplanted the Chinese ideal of "harmony between heaven and humans," with dire consequences both for human beings and the natural environment.  Told in part through the voices of average Chinese citizens and officials who lived through and participated in some of the destructive campaigns, the book shows how the abuse of people and the abuse of nature were often linked.  Today, as human beings struggle to find a more harmonious relationship with the natural world, the book offers a cautionary tale with wide-ranging implications.

Professor Shapiro is co-author, with Liang Heng, of other well-known books on China, including Son of the Revolution (Knopf 1983), a memoir of the Cultural Revolution, After the Nightmare (Knopf 1987), an eyewitness account of China after Mao, and Cold Winds, Warm Winds (Wesleyan University Press 1987), a discussion of freedom of expression in the reform period.  Her co-edited volumes include Debates on the Future of Communism (St. Martin’s) and A Handbook of Current Americanisms (Hunan Provincial Publishing House).  She frequently reviews books for The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Courses Taught

Professor Shapiro teaches a wide range of courses in environmental politics, including: the Washington Environmental Workshop, Global Environmental Politics in the Public Imagination, Environment and Politics, Contemplation and Political Change, From Maoism to Market-Leninism, and Cross-cultural Communication.

SIS 315 - Contemplation and Political Change

SIS 396 - Global Environmental Politics in the Public Imagination

SIS 596 - Environmental Security in Asia

SIS 663 - Washington Environmental Workshop

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