PUBPL 481: Seminar in Environmental Policy


“Three Mile Island” by Z22, CC BY-SA 3.0

Download my Spring 2018 Syllabus

Course Description

As the Earth’s population continues to grow rapidly and attention is increasingly drawn to the challenges of a warming planet, our relationship with our environment remains an important concern for all levels of governmental institutions: local, state, federal, and international. This course will explore the origins, growth, and evolution of the environmental movement, from early efforts at conservation through current debates surrounding climate change. We will also explore how research in political science and public policy helps us understand environmental politics. Thus, students will learn about government regulation, public opinion, agenda setting, punctuated equilibrium, formal and informal institutions, interest groups, and more. Students will also work in teams to develop their own case studies that can be used to teach about environmental policy. This course serves as a capstone seminar for Public Policy majors, thus it will draw on various courses in political science and public policy. That said, we will do so in a way that non-majors can understand.

Course Schedule

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Policy and Science

  • January 16: Theoretical Approaches to Study Public Policy (Slides)
    • Smith. Appendix A.
  • January 18: Our Place in the Environment (Slides)
    • Smith. Chapter 1.

Week 3: The Environmental Movement

  • January 23: History (Slides)
    • Smith. Chapter 2.
    • Case Study Topic Due
  • January 25: Opinion and Framing (Slides)
    • Smith. Chapter 2.
    • Policy Theories Essay Due

Week 4: Regulations and Science

Week 5: Institutions

  • February 6: UNECE Meeting
    • Team Work Day
    • Environmental Discourse Essay Due
  • February 8: Institutional Setting (Slides)
    • Smith. Chapter 4.

Week 6: Politics and Air Pollution

  • February 13: Political Setting (Slides)
    • Smith. Chapter 4.
    • Regulatory Environment Essay Due
  • February 15: Air Pollution
    • Smith. Chapter 5.

Week 7: Air Policy

Week 8: Water and Energy Policy

  • February 27: Water Policy (Slides)
    • Smith. Chapter 6.
    • Draft Case Study Due
  • February 29. Energy Policy (Slides)
    • Smith. Chapter 7. 
    • Fuel Standards Essay Due

Week 9: Spring Break

  • March 6 and 8: No Class

Week 10: Toxic and Hazardous Waste

  • March 13: ASPA
    • Team Work Day
  • March 15: Toxic and Hazardous Waste (Slides)
    • Smith. Chapter 8. 
    • Peer Review Due

Week 11: Environmental Racism

Week 12: Land Management and International Issues

  • March 27: Land Management (Slides)
    • Smith. Chapter 9.
  • March 29: International Issues (Slides)
    • Smith. Chapter 10.

Week 13: International Management and Climate Change

Week 14: Natural Gas and Fracking

Week 15: Case Presentations

  • April 17: Case Presentation
    • Team 1 Presentation
    • Team 2 Presentation
  • April 19: Case Presentation
    • Team 3 Presentation

Week 16: Choose Your Own Adventure

Week 17: Finals Week

  • Final Case Study Due May 1 by Midnight
  • Complete group participation survey by Midnight on May 1