All papers should be no more than 1500 words long (5 pages, double-spaced, 12-point font), submitted as PDFs.

Assignment 1: National Environmental Policy-making

Due: Class 7

It should now be clear that national environmental policy-making is a much less structured and a much more haphazard process than many policy scientists have suggested. Given what you have read in Unit 1 and what we have discussed in class, provide the simplest model you can of national environmental policy-making for any country you choose. In developing your model, include a one-page diagram of your model and address the following questions:

  1. What are the key variables and forces at work in your model and why have you selected them?
  2. Which variables or forces are unique to “environmental” policy-making, if any (as compared to public policy-making in general)?
  3. To the extent that future environmental policy is largelyl a product of previous policy and practice, what’s your sense of how major shifts in national environmental policy might occur?

You can earn a maximum of 10 points. You will receive up to 2 points for the overall quality of your model. The diagram can earn up to 2 points. Answers to questions 1, 2, and 3 can earn 2 points each.

Assignment 2: Environmental Ethics

Due: Class 11

Traditionally economists have argued that humans are utility maximizers, although some behavioral economists and social psychologists have recently raised questions about this. With this in mind, please write a paper addressing the following questions:

  1. When environmentalists and environmental planners argue that each generation (and we as individuals) has a stewardship obligation toward the natural environment, is that just one more utilitarian argument? Or, is there a different ethical principle at stake?
  2. Please explain, with reference to the literature we read and discussed in Unit 2, where you stand on the utilitarian vs. deep ecology debate.
  3. Do you think Daly’s distinction between economic growth and economic development resolves the apparent rension between arguments on behalf of environmental protection and arguments on behalf of economic well-being?
  4. What is the strongest ethical argument you can make on behalf of sustainable development?

You can score up to 10 points. Your answer to question 1 is worth 3 points. Your answers to questions 2, 3, and 4 are worth 2 points each. An additional point will be awarded for the overall quality of your arguments.

Assignment 3: Environmental Assessment

Due: Class 18

Most environmental planners presume that policy decisions regarding the use of natural resources and patterns of development can be enhanced through the application of various analytical tools.

  1. Explain why and how you agree or disagree with this, with reference to each of the tools discussed in Unit 3.
  2. What do you think are the relative strengths and limitations of each of the analytical tools we discussed in Unit 3?

You can earn a total of 10 points; each question is worth up to five.

Assignment 4: Public Participation and Group Decision-Making

Due: Class 22

There is an ongoing debate between political philosophers and dispute resolution professionals regarding the most appropriate means of conceptualizing the public interest (with regards to the use ofnatural resources or patterns of urban development). The philosophers believe “deliberative polling” that provides a snapshot of what the “average citizen” prefers should be sufficient for elected officials to determine what actions to take in the public interest. Dispute resolution professionals argue the public interest can best be understood as the product of a consensus building dialogue among contending interests (not individuals) and that public officials armed with polling data can never know or produce on their own the public interest.

  1. In light of what you read and heard in Unit 4, what is your view of this debate?
  2. What should be most important, in your view, in assessing the relevant contributions that various public participation tools and techniques can make to environmental planning?
  3. What’s your reaction to the notion that a neutral facilitator can add value in important ways to environmental planning efforts?

You can earn a maximum of 10 points. Your response to questions 1, 2, and 3 are each worth up to 3 points. You will earn up to 1 additional point based on the quality of your overall arguments.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2016
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments
Other Video
Presentation Assignments with Examples