Dr. Kristin Olofsson

EPSCoR Research Focus: 
Social Dynamics Research Framework
Asst. Professor
Department of Political Science
Oklahoma State University
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B.A. | Political Science | University of Colorado, Boulder, CO | 2001
M.S. | Developmental Studies | Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden | 2012
Ph.D. | Public Affairs | University of Colorado, Denver, CO | 2019
Research Interests: 

Dr. Kristin Olofsson, assistant professor of political science at Oklahoma State University, is a member of the OK NSF EPSCoR Track-1 RII Award titled Socially Sustainable Solutions for Water, Carbon, and Infrastructure Resilience in Oklahoma. The $20 million research project is a social science-led, multi-disciplinary collaboration among social, physical, biological, engineering, and computational scientists. More than thirty researchers from across the state are working together on the project, which began July 1, 2020. 

Dr. Olofsson's research interests are in the areas of public policy, energy/environmental policy, political behavior, and political psychology. She specializes in environmental and energy policy, using comparative research design to focus on the dynamics of policy coalitions and networks of policy actors engaged in policymaking. Dr. Olofsson explores differentiation in institutional settings to better understand how the people involved in the policy process shape policy outcomes. Her research questions the rational capabilities of policy actors and how decisions are made in contentious politics. Dr. Olofsson often uses survey data to explore political behavior and utilizes network analysis and geospatial modeling in her work.  

Dr. Olofsson's research supports the Social Dynamics Research Framework aspect of the OK NSF EPSCoR project. Human perceptions and beliefs are at the heart of the most critical challenges facing Oklahoma. They shape behaviors and collective decisions, and therefore our responses to the changing world. Using data from the M-SISNet, the social dynamics team will (a) measure and model perceptions and beliefs underpinning the social narratives that shape debates among the public, opinion leaders, and scientists about the emerging, interconnected, and salient threats to Oklahomans identified in our research focus areas; (b) evaluate how widely shared narratives have undermined collective action to pursue convergent solutions to wicked problems that recognize and address the array of anthropogenic drivers of these threats; and (c) measure social valuation for solutions using willingness-to-pay for potential sustainable solutions. 

Coupled with the project’s four interconnected focus areas, the Social Dynamics framework provides the structure and direction of the project. The distinct but interrelated focus areas and the research questions they pursue were selected for this project because they deepen understanding of overlapping natural and human dynamics that drive critical problems facing Oklahoma today. Treated individually as stand-alone problems, they are susceptible to social polarization and policy gridlock. Addressed as an integrated set, these dynamics offer the prospect for revised understandings of problem boundaries and provide the potential for informed value tradeoffs across social groups that can enable socially sustainable solutions to address our most pressing problems. 

Dr. Olofsson is a former National Science Foundation (NSF) Sustainability Research Networks AirWaterGas Student Research Fellow and an NSF Research Coordination Networks Sustainable Cities Student Fellow.

Learn more about the OK NSF EPSCoR research project.  

Key Publications: 
  • Olofsson, Kristin L. (Under review). “When on the ‘Losing” Side: Policy Engagement in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.
  • Olofsson, Kristin L., Juniper Katz, Daniel Costie, Tanya Heikkila, & Christopher M. Weible. 2018. A Dominant Coalition and Policy Change: The Development of Shale Oil and Gas in India. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning 20(5): 645-660.
  • Olofsson, Kristin L. 2018. Perceptions of Contentiousness: How Individual Traits Shape Environmental Policy Conflicts. In Environmental Policy and the Pursuit of Sustainability, Chelsea Shelly and Aparajita Banerjee (eds.). London, United Kingdom: Routledge.
  • Olofsson, Kristin L., Weible, Christopher M., Heikkila, Tanya, & Martel, J.C. (2017). “Using Nonprofit Narratives and News Media Framing to Depict Air Pollution in Delhi, India.” Environmental Communication 11: 1-17. 
    Heikkila, Tanya, Weible, Christopher M., & Olofsson, Kristin L. (2017). “Lessons from State-Level and National-Level Policy Conflicts Over U.S. Shale Development.” Environment 59 (3): 4-13. 
  • Weible, Christopher M., Olofsson, Kristin L., Costie, Daniel, Katz, Juniper, & Heikkila, Tanya. (2016). “Enhancing Precision and Clarity in the Study of Policy Narratives: An Analysis of Climate and Air Issues in Delhi, India.” Review of Policy Research 33 (4): 420- 441.
  • Nohrstedt, Daniel & Olofsson, Kristin L. (2016). “Advocacy Coalition Politics in the Swedish Policy Process: A Review of Applications.” European Policy Analysis 2 (2): 18-42. Awarded Policy Studies Organization “EPA Presenting” article. 
Curriculum Vitae: