Judith Shapiro is the director of the Masters in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development for the School of International Service at American University. She was one of the first Americans to live in China after U.S.-China relations were normalized in 1979, and taught English at the Hunan Teachers’ College in Changsha, China. She has also taught at Villanova University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Aveiro (Portugal), and the Southwest Agricultural University in Chongqing, China.

Professor Shapiro’s research and teaching focus on global environmental politics and policy, the environmental politics of Asia, and Chinese politics under Mao. She is the author, co-author, or editor of seven books, including China's Environmental Challenges (Polity 2012), Cold Winds, Warm Winds: Intellectual Life in China Today (with Liang Heng, Wesleyan University Press 1987), and Son of the Revolution (with Liang Heng, Knopf 1983), among others. Her book Mao’s War against Nature (Cambridge University Press 2001) inspired a documentary film, Waking the Green Tiger (2011). Professor Shapiro’s latest project is a textbook for Polity Press called China’s Environmental Challenges, published in 2012.

Professor Shapiro earned her Ph.D. from American University’s School of International Service. She holds an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and another M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois, Urbana. Her B.A. from Princeton University is in Anthropology and East Asian Studies. Before coming to American University, she had a lengthy career as an independent writer and commentator on Chinese politics. She also has extensive experience as a legal interpreter of Mandarin Chinese.

Last Updated: April 3, 2014



China’s Environmental Challenges

Judith Shapiro
China’s huge environmental challenges are significant for us all. They affect not only the health and well-being of China but the very future of the planet. In this trailblazing book, noted China specialist and environmentalist Judith Shapiro investigates China’s struggle to achieve sustainable development against a backdrop of acute rural poverty and soaring middle class consumption. Using five core analytical concepts to explore the complexities of this struggle - the implications of globalization, the challenges of governance; contested national identity, the evolution of civil society and problems of environmental justice and equity - Shapiro poses a number of pressing questions: Do the Chinese people have the right to the higher living standards enjoyed in the developed world? Are China’s environmental problems so severe that they may shake the government’s stability, legitimacy and control? To what extent are China’s environmental problems due to patterns of Western consumption? And in a world of increasing limits on resources and pollution “sinks,” is it even possible to build an equitable system in which people enjoy equal access to resources without taking them from successive generations, from the poor, or from other species?China and the planet are at a pivotal moment; the path towards a more sustainable development model is still open. But - as Shapiro persuasively argues - making this choice will require humility, creativity, and a rejection of business as usual. The window of opportunity will not be open much longer. —Polity

Surviving the Hurricane

Judith Shapiro from New York Review of Books
At a time when the new freedoms of the post-Mao years are in jeopardy, many issues of intense concern to Chinese can freely be discussed only abroad. Of these, among the most important is the Cultural Revolution, about which Nien Cheng has written...