Credit Bert Wu

Dr. Judith Shapiro directs the Natural Resources and Sustainable Development (NRSD) dual degree program, which offers students the opportunity to gain a macro-level perspective in Washington, DC, at American University’s School of International Service (SIS), while also exposing students to sustainable development in practice at the United Nations mandated University for Peace (UPeace) in Costa Rica. Located in a nature reserve outside of Ciudad Colon, a town about 30 minutes from San Jose, UPeace is a small, graduate-level, English-language university with students and faculty from all over the world.

Professor Shapiro teaches a wide range of courses in environmental politics, including the Washington Environmental Workshop, Environment and Politics, Environmental Politics in Asia, Contemplation and Political Change and China from Inside. She is a visiting faculty member at Schwarzman College at Qinghua University.


SIS 352 Environmental Politics in Asia. Environmental issues such as climate change, ozone depletion, transboundary air and water pollution, deforestation, biodiversity loss, resource competition and conflict and desertification are among the most challenging issues that the world faces today. Asia, home to a complex mix of rapidly transforming developed and developing countries, faces all of these issues. It is critical that any well educated person understand these problems if s/he is to engage meaningfully in global politics. 

SIS 660 Environment and Politics. This course provides an overview of the field of Global Environmental Politics. It is assumed that upon entering your Masters program you already have a basic grasp of the nature of such environmental problems as climate change, ozone depletion, biodiversity loss, invasive species, air and water pollution, hazardous waste, deforestation and desertification. This class aims to introduce core concepts and arguments within the field of GEP, provide you with basic familiarity with theories in the field, and help you develop skills in research, writing, and presentation that you will be able to draw upon throughout your Masters career and into the future.

SIS 663 Washington Environmental Workshop. This course involves two major components: A “workshop” in environmental institutions and an in-depth research paper. The Workshop dimension of the course exposes participants to a range of Washington environmental policy-making and policy-influencing institutions, including government agencies and NGOs. The research component is intended to consolidate your expertise in a particular area of sustainability politics and to develop analytical, theoretical and writing skills. 

SISU-106 Environment and Imagination: Planetary Crisis in Fiction and Literary Non-fictionThis seminar draws on novels, literary non-fiction, political analysis, film, and scholarly classics to explore our planet’s past and future, developed North and developing South.

SIS 106.007 China from the Inside. This First Year Seminar is intended to provide students with an introduction to modern Chinese history, culture, and contemporary challenges. The primary goal is to help students feel enduringly fascinated by China and to learn to think critically about sources of information. All First Year Seminars have these two learning outcomes: Demonstrate critical thinking as evidenced through both written and oral presentation; interpret issues from multiple cultural and philosophical perspectives.

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