Sheldon Gen is the son of immigrants who fled China’s communist revolution following World War II. He was raised in Turlock—then a rural agricultural town—in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where his parents established a successful restaurant. Gen began working in the back of the restaurant at age 8, learning a full range of kitchen skills that would eventually pay his way through college and feed many friendships. He is a first generation college graduate, earning a BS degree in civil engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. This led to a decade of engineering work with federal agencies, including the Peace Corps (Kenya), the US Air Force (Los Angeles AFB), and the Environmental Protection Agency (San Francisco and San Diego) where he was a Presidential Management Fellow. As his engineering career progressed, he earned a MPA degree at USC (with honors) to understand the public service and policy contexts of his engineering projects. These studies engrossed him and eventually led him to complete a PhD in public policy at Georgia Tech (with honors). San Francisco State University hired Gen in 2003, into a joint appointment between the Public Administration Program and the Political Science Department, focusing on public policy studies. He is now an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement. He maintains interests in civil engineering, having worked on many Bay Area public policy issues related to public infrastructure and the environment. He has also kept his kitchen skills sharp, and for five years he was the co-owner and executive chef of Chef Camps, a cooking camp for kids in Sonoma County.
Dr. Gen primary teaches in the Public Administration Program, though his academic focus on public policy and applied research have had him teach in seven other degree programs at SF State and Aarhus University in Denmark. His courses cover public policy processes, civic engagement in public policy, policy analysis, program evaluation, environmental policy, and education policy. In the MPA program, he advises students in the public policy and environmental administration emphases.
Dr. Gen studies public engagement in policy making processes, and focuses on environmental and education policy issues. This ranges from how government agencies conduct public outreach to how advocacy groups try to influence policy outcomes, and the measurable outcomes of these efforts. These interests stem from his prior employment and consultancies with many public and nonprofit organizations, including Plan International, the International Boundary and Water Commission, US EPA, US Air Force, the Army Environmental Policy Institute, Caltrans, the Georgia Department of Transportation, SF Ed Fund, SF Unified School District, SF Public Utilities Commission, Petaluma Transit, Turlock Irrigation District, and others.
Gen, S., & Luger, E. (2019) Does mode of public outreach matter? In Kerley, R., Dunning, P.T., & Liddle, J. (editors). Routledge Handbook of International Local Government. Routledge.
Gen, S., & Wright, A.C. (2018) Strategies of policy advocacy organizations, and their theoretical affinities: evidence from Q-methodology. Policy Studies Journal, 46(2): 298-326.
Gen, S. & Wright, A.C. (2013) Policy advocacy organizations: a framework linking theory to practice. Journal of Policy Practice, 12(3): 163-193.
Gen, S., Shafer, H., & Nakagawa, M. (2012). Perceptions of environmental justice: the case of a U.S. urban wastewater system. Sustainable Development, 20: 239-250.
Gen, S. (2011) The dilemma of environmental valuation: ethics and U.S. policy. International Journal of the Humanities, 9(2): 133-145.
Gen, S. (2010). Public knowledge and wastewater management: a case in San Francisco. Environmental Practice, 12(4): 328-341.
Paarlberg, L. & Gen, S. (2009). Exploring the determinants of nonprofit coproduction of public service delivery: the case of k-12 public education. American Review of Public Administration, 39(4): 391-408.
Pendola, R. & Gen, S. (2008) Does ‘main street’ promote a sense of community? A comparison of San Francisco neighborhoods. Environment & Behavior, 40(4): 545-574.