Student Profile: Cecilia Shang '18

April 30, 2018


Princeton School of Public and Internal Affairs, with certificates in Cognitive Science, Environmental Studies, and Dance

How do you define sustainability?

What a tough (but definitely important) question. Sustainability to me personally is a dynamic concept about the long-term, about action and change, about well-being and balance (for ourselves, our planet, and future generations), and as much as it is about the environment - our air, water, forests, soils, animals, etc. - it is also about people and culture and everyday behaviors. Princeton's VP of Facilities Kyu Whang also made an important point in a class last year, that while critically important, sustainability is not an end in and of itself, which speaks to how sustainability needs to be embedded within systems, behaviors, institutions, choices, etc.

Why did you decide to get involved with Greening Dining and the Greening the Street and Mend EcoReps Initiatives?

All three groups/initiatives are pretty different, but fundamentally, my motivation was always to engage and take action on issues that are very important to me, and work with my peers to shift campus practices and culture toward sustainability from a students perspective. It's also very fulfilling and fun to work with other passionate students toward an important issue that cross-cuts so many aspects of our everyday lives!

How has your leadership role shaped your experience at Princeton?

I have learned and gained so much through collaborating in sustainability leadership positions at Princeton. Whether through talks with administrative members and local organizations, getting to work and connect with inspiring role models and student peers, or co-leading new sustainability initiatives that excited me personally, I have been really fulfilled and am grateful for my experience in the different sustainability groups I've been a part of. Those experiences and engagement also contributed to my decision to write my senior thesis on how behavioral science nudges can facilitate a more sustainable diet through a reduction in excess meat consumption and run my own field experiment in the dining hall. Finally, I think in many ways, my leadership experience in various sustainability groups at Princeton has shaped and solidified my belief that solutions to the complex environmental issues of our generation will necessitate concerted effort along as many lines as possible (there is no silver bullet panacea) and has reinforced my decision to pursue a career in the environmental domain - whether that be through behavioral science, policy, or some other facet.