Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Objectives of the Course

This is the required introductory course for all graduate students pursuing environmental policy and planning as their specialization in the MCP Program. It is also open to all DUSP/TPP students interested in "the environmental policy debate" as well as the range of environmental planning tools and techniques that are the focus of the course.

There are no prerequisites. The class is taught comparatively, that is, with constant reference to examples from around the world.

The course consists of three parts: The Environmental Policy Debate, Environmental Planning Techniques and Strategies, and Synthesis and Preparation for Practice. The first part of the course revolves around debate-style presentations in which student teams test contrary arguments drawing on the relevant philosophical literature. The second part of the course provides an overview of techniques and strategies for environmental management and planning. The third part of the course introduces students to Environmental Policy Group (EPG) faculty work and helps students formulate a plan for the remainder of their MCP studies.

Course Requirements

Students are encouraged to attend class meetings.

Required Text

Part III: Environmental Planning Techniques and Strategies

Amazon logo Randolph, John. Environmental Land Use Planning and Management. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2004. ISBN: 1559639482.

Recommended Background Texts

Part II: The Environmental Policy Debate

Amazon logo DesJardins, Joseph R. Environmental Ethics. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1993. ISBN: 053420046X.

Amazon logo Hanson, Philip, ed. Environmental Ethics: Philosophical and Policy Perspectives. Burnaby, British Columbia: Simon Fraser University, 1986. ISBN: 0864910614.

Part IV: Synthesis and Preparation for Practice

Amazon logo Daniels, Tom, and Katherine Daniels. The Environmental Planning Handbook. Washington, DC: Planners Press, American Planning Association, 2003. ISBN: 188482966X.


Journal-keeping via the class blog is required. You may choose to share your journal entries with your classmates, or you may keep them private.

Examples from the class blog can be found in the assignments section.

Participation in Simulations

Participation in simulations (both in-class and out-of-class) is also required. Two games will be played in class and two will be played outside of class. These games present a series of situations in which you will have an opportunity to apply the ideas and techniques discussed in class in the face of numerous institutional obstacles. One simulation deals with the management of sustainability, one with environmental impact assessment, one with joint fact finding and one with environmental justice considerations in facility siting.

Participation in Debates

Everyone will be asked to choose one of these four debates in which to participate. These are not Oxford-style debates. We are interested in understanding more about the philosophical underpinning of various "ethical claims," not in choosing a winner and a loser. Your grade will be solely a function of how well you prepared and presented your ideas, not on the point-of-view you adopted.


Recitations are not required, but you might find useful the few that are scheduled.


Grading will be based on in-person (class discussion, out-of-class simulations) and on-line (journal writing, commentary) participation and completion of the final memo. In the final memo you will be asked to highlight how you intend to use the remaining three semesters at MIT to prepare to be an effective environmental planner. There is no final exam.