Kathinka Fürst, Ph.D.

Assistant Research Professor of Environmental Policy

Environmental law and regulation researcher with interest in environmental policy processes, law enforcement and compliance and the role of non-state actors in environmental governance processes. Socio-legal studies, qualitative methodology with specialization in comparative case studies.

Dr. Fürst received her PhD degree at the Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam and her MA degree at the Center from Environment and Development at the University of Oslo. She has a BA in Sinology from Beijing Language and Culture University.

Her research generally looks at environmental regulation and justice in China. In her first project, which culminated in her MA thesis she focused on pollution victims and their access to justice.  This thesis, entitled “Access to Justice in Environmental Disputes: Opportunities and Obstacles for Chinese Pollution Victims” sought to identify various structural, political, financial, technical, legal and cultural obstacles Chinese citizens face in the process of invoking their legal rights. It was based on empirical qualitative data derived from fieldwork in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The thesis used that data to engage with socio-legal literature on rights invocation and apply and further develop this in the context of China’s pollution victims.

Her doctoral project, entitled “Regulating through Leverage: Civil Regulation in China” looks critically at the role that civil society can play in regulation in an authoritarian state like China, focusing on the concept of “civil regulation” which has recently become a new key component of many Chinese environmental protection policy documents. It identifies several different forms of civil regulation and examines both their preconditions and effects. The research includes a near comprehensive set of case-studies of twenty-seventeen environmental NGOs based in fifteen different provinces and shows how weak NGOs with limited regulatory space have been able to successfully push powerful enterprises and governments to start to reduce pollution, using the leverage of the international market or the state to generate pressure. The thesis explains what civil regulation is, what preconditions it requires, how it relates to the state, and what it means in authoritarian settings.

She is now working on several projects focusing on:

  • Mapping and analyzing the effect of environmental public interest litigation and tort litigation in China
  • Examining the Jing-Jing-Ji air pollution reduction policies from an environmental, economic and social justice perspective
  • Smog Art in China

Dr. Fürst has extensive experience in interdisciplinary research through her work as an administrative coordinator for the Sino-Norwegian Center for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research and research fellow at the Social Science Research Council’s China Environment and Health Initiative.

Prior to joining Duke Kunshan University Dr. Fürst work as a consultant on program management and evaluation focusing on environmental governance projects in China. She also has substantial experience in research project design, implementation and monitoring.

Marielle Stigum Gleiss, Elin Sæther, Kathinka Fürst. “Re-theorizing civil society in China: Agency and the discursive politics of civil society engagement”, first Published on July 25, 2018
Link: https://doi.org/10.1177/0920203X18790395

“Environmental governance in China: Interactions between the state and ‘nonstate actors’ ”. Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 220, 15 August 2018, Pages 126–135
Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479718304924

Gleiss, Stigum Marielle, Sæther, Elin and Fürst, Kathinka (Forthcoming 2018): “Civil society and political agency: A conceptual framework for analyzing civil society in China”, working paper.

Fürst, Kathinka and Van Rooij, Benjamin (Forthcoming 2018), “Defining Regulation in the Age of Governance: Lessons from Civic Pollution Regulation in China”, working paper.

Fürst, Kathinka and Lee, Eungkyoon (Forthcoming 2018): “Regulatory effects of civil regulation in Authoritarian Regimes: Lessons from China”, working paper.

Fürst, Kathinka (Forthcoming 2018):  “Perceiving and debating the socio-economic costs of reducing air pollution in China: The role of environmental NGOs”, working paper.

Fürst, Kathinka (Forthcoming 2018): “Regulating through Leverage: Civil Regulation by Chinese Environmental NGOs”, working paper.

Fürst, Kathinka (Forthcoming 2018): “Think Local: Act Global: Chinese environmental NGOs utilization of supply chain pressure mechanisms”, working paper.

Fürst, Kathinka (2016): “Regulating through Leverage :Civil Regulation in China”. PhD Thesis, Amsterdam University, 2016

Link: https://dare.uva.nl/search?identifier=4fc0f14a-22e9-4f06-b61b-6245b50ca913

Van Rooij, Benjamin, Rachel E. Stern, and Kathinka Fürst. “The authoritarian logic of regulatory pluralism: Understanding China’s new environmental actors.” Regulation & Governance 10, no. 1 (2016): 3-13.

Fürst, Kathinka and Jennifer. Holdaway, “Environmental and Health in China: The role of environmental

NGOs in policy innovation” in Fulda, A. (ed) Civil Society Contributions to Policy Innovation in the People’s Republic of China, China Policy Institute Palgrave Macmillan book series, 2014.

Fürst Kathinka (2008) “Access to Justice in Environmental Disputes: Opportunities and Obstacles for Victims of Pollution in China”, MA Thesis, University of Oslo, Centre for Development and Environment,

Link: https://www.duo.uio.no/bitstream/handle/10852/32703/MA_FURST.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y