Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Engagement or Control? The Chinese State’s Burgeoning Presence in Online Environmental Discourse

Date and Time
Wednesday, October 2, 2019 - 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Grainger Hall, Room 2102
Engagement or Control? The Chinese State’s Burgeoning Presence in Online Environmental Discourse


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Since 2013, Chinese environmental authorities have become extremely proactive in expanding into online spaces. This has been seen alternatively as a promising attempt to improve governance by increasing citizen engagement and transparency, or as a new tool of societal control. However, empirical research into the practices of state microblogs are rare, and the implications of their emergence for state-society relations remains poorly understood. This talk by Coraline Goron, assistant professor of environmental policy at Duke Kunshan University, will present research using a combination of online and offline methods to analyze Chinese state microblogs, focusing on the 172 local environmental authorities at various administrative levels in Shandong Province.

This talk is part of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the University Program in Environmental Policy seminar series featuring leading experts discussing a variety of pressing environmentally focused topics. This talk is also sponsored by the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy.


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Dr. Coraline Goron obtained a double Ph.D. degree in Political Science from the University of Warwick and the Université Libre de Bruxelles under the aegis of the Erasmus Mundus GEM program. She holds an MA in European politics from the Université Libre de Bruxelles and an LLM in international and Chinese law from the China-EU School of Law at the Chinese University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. Before joining DKU, Coraline was a postdoctoral research fellow funded by the Wiener-Anspach Foundation at the University of Oxford China Centre.

Her research centers on environmental politics with a specific focus on China, both domestically and as an increasingly influential actor in global environmental governance. She is particularly interested in the contentious politics of socio-ecological transformations, confronting interests, ideologies and imaginaries of the future. Her Ph.D. thesis received the Marthe Engelborghs-Bertels Prize for Sinology in May 2018. It traced the transformation of China’s regulatory institutions in the field of energy and environmental protection and analyzed their combined outcomes on the implementation of decarbonization and renewable energy policies.

She is keen on developing the academic fields of Political Ecology and Science and Technology Studies from the perspective of China. Her current research includes:

  • The politics of environmental information disclosure in the resolution of environmental disputes, citizen production of environmental information and their participation in local environmental governance
  • The politics of stateled ecological transformation, with a focus on the social impacts, pushbacks, and renegotiations of top-down environmental measures
  • The transnational (non)diffusion of environmental norms and practices to and from China, especially in the field of climate change