Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval Form

1. Dept. Political Science & Public Administration
2. Course No. 340
3. Sem. Hrs. 3
4. Frequency Spring Semesters, one section,30 per semester
5. Title Environmental Policy
6. Catalog Description A seminar in environmental policy analysis. Students examine and assess a variety of global, national, local and inter-governmental environmental problems and governmental efforts in response to manage these problems. Special emphasis

is placed on air and water pollution, erosion, toxic wastes, species loss and population growth.

7. Is this an existing A2C2 approved Course? Yes
8. Is this a new course proposal? No
9. University Studies Category Science and Social Policy
10. Department Contact Darrell Downs, 457-5405,
11. Course Objective & General Outcomes



The purpose of this course is to examine the relationship between ecological problems and public policy. Students actively engaged in this course will learn how particular environmental phenomenon are recognized and ultimately addressed (or not) by government decision makers. Students will learn the basic dimensions of contemporary ecological challenges followed by an examination of environmental law and policy designed to address the problems. Particular attention is devoted to the development of an intellectually more mature understanding of how environmental policy is made, modified, implemented, and how it can be evaluated in response to political demands to manage the natural environment.


12. Specific Course Outcomes A. Understand the Scientific Foundation of the Topic

The scientific foundations of topics in this course are addressed in three general areas.

bulletFirst, students are exposed to Ancient Greek to Enlightenment era thought on the relationship between nature and politics. For example, the natural environment and the scope of human behavior within nature is examined through the thought of Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean Jacques Rousseau. Students learn basic terminology of ecology and modern environmental problems, as well as an introduction to basic conceptual elements of political science such as power and legitimacy. See Week One in Syllabus.
bulletSecond, parts of the scientific process, such as conceptualization, hypothesis testing, and standards of validity, are introduced to clarify the standards by which environmental policy is frequently judged. Political demands can overcome standards of the scientific process, and the legitimacy of current policy is often questioned. Typically, students are exposed to this theme by studying the debate over the scientific support for current federal ambient air quality standards for Ozone. This is normally addressed in concert with the introduction to rule making and administrative law. See Week Two in Syllabus. bulletThird, as each substantive area of environmental policy is addressed, it is discussed in terms of an ecological or physical problem. For instance, Weeks Five and Six deal with air and water pollution, respectively. In each week's sessions, students receive instruction on the basic types and air and water pollution, in addition to physical aspects that can make public policy intractable. Examples include the trans-boundary dimension of air pollution and the difficulty of tracing specific causes of non-point source water pollution.

B. Understand the Social, Ethical, Historical, and /or Political Implications

Environmental/ecological problems have numerous social, ethical, historical, and political implications. Students in this course are exposed primarily to political implications associated with advances in the environmental sciences, such as: bulletImplications associated with political shifts due to gains (or losses) due to progress in certain environmental policy areas. For example, improvements in certain types of air and water quality have resulted in greater political attention devoted toward the regulation of toxic and more diffuse forms of pollution. This theme is addressed in all class sessions which address specific environmental policy areas, Weeks Five through Twelve, see syllabus. bulletPolitical implications to de-regulate environmental policy due to the costs and/or progress in environmental policy. This topic is addressed in Week Two and particularly in Weeks, Five, Six, and Nine in the context of examining recent political efforts to return environmental protection to state and local governments. bulletInternational political implications associated with national efforts to implement environmental protections. For example, international political relationships have developed, and in some cases, weakened due to environmental programs, especially in the areas of air pollution and international wildlife protections. Emphasized in Weeks Ten, Eleven, and Twelve, see syllabus.

  1. Understand and Articulate the Need to Integrate Issues of Science with Social Policy
  2. Students are exposed to the idea that the natural sciences and the social sciences offer different insights to environmental problems and environmental thought (major theme of Week Three, see syllabus). The value in drawing from both the natural sciences and politics is also emphasized at the outset in Week One and related reading assignments. Likewise, as noted above, most class sessions engage students in discussing both the physical and social (policy) aspects of environmental problems. Students have the opportunity to practice articulating the important link between science and social policy through their policy analysis projects, see syllabus.

  3. Evaluate the Various Policy Options Relevant to the Social Dilemmas Posed by the Science
  4. The social dilemmas associated with ecosystems beset by population and development pressure are numerous. In Week Three, students are exposed to concepts of environmental value ranging from sustainability to solitude and sacramental benefit, which serve as bases for alternative policy strategies. Students are exposed to alternative policy designs in Week Four. Through the students' independent research assignment, it is important that they understand the rationale for the policy options they encounter in their own research, as well as for understanding the lectures in the latter part of the course dealing with substantive environmental policy areas. Students will be required to evaluate policy and make recommendations in their independent projects, see syllabus.

    It is also expected that students will become more aware of the practical difficulty in overcoming the competing political demands that are partly produced by the interdisciplinary nature of environmental studies. The wide range of competing values associated with different scientific outlooks along with different assumptions about human nature pose different remedies for environmental policy, also addressed in Week Three.



  5. Articulate,Choose Among, and Defend Various Policy and/or Scientific Options to Cope with the Challenges Created
bulletOn an independent basis but with instructor guidance, students are required to identify an environmental problem and then analyze contemporary policy in relation to the problem. Students are then required to make recommendations. Students are required to turn in an early draft outline of the project and to present the final project orally to the course. See "policy analysis" in syllabus. bulletThe format of the course is designed in a manner to facilitate the discussion of alternative ecological problems and associated policy so that students may become more critical thinking observers and eventually participants in environmental policy making, implementation, and change. See "Format" of the class meetings in syllabus.




Environmental Policy 340

Spring 2001



Environmental Law. 2000. 3nd Ed. Nancy Kubasek and Gary S. Silverman. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.


The Politics of Ecosystem Management. 1999. Hanna J. Cortner and Margaret A. Moote. Washington, D.C.: Island Press.

Selected Internet Reading Assignments & Additional Papers (Provided by Professor)


The general purpose of this course is to examine the relationship between ecological problems and public policy. The readings and assignments are tailored to serve the needs of students with little background in politics but with an abiding interest in some aspect of environmental policy as a career or perhaps an avocation. Since environmental policy is shaped in political arenas by a myriad of social and economic forces combined with observations of the natural world, there is a strong inter-disciplinary content to the subject. The objective here, however, is to help you gain an intellectually more mature understanding of how environmental policy is made, modified, and implemented (or not) in response to political demands to manage the natural environment.

Environmental policy is often organized according to different types of ecological problems and/or different substantive areas of environmental law. Since it is impossible to address all environmental problems thoroughly in this course, there will be a relatively heavier focus on water, air, public lands, energy, and wildlife management topics.

Whether you are already committed to a profession in natural resource management or if you are simply concerned about the future of the environment, this course is, in short, an introduction to the challenges and opportunities that beset future progress in environmental policy.




The format of this course consists of a combination of lecture and discussions. Each evening's class is a forum for: 1) sharing information on different dimensions of environmental policy, 2) examining and evaluating the current status of environmental problems and our (public and private) responses to those problems, and 3) building defensible policy recommendations.

Over the course of the semester, I will deliver introductory lectures for each evening’s selected topics. In turn, for the purpose of leading class discussion on assigned topics, previously selected students will summarize text and any supplemental reading assignments. Questions and discussion on course material are welcomed and encouraged at all times.


Attendance. Missing class with advanced notice is acceptable on rare occasions, but more than one absence without advanced notice will result in a one letter grade reduction in your final grade. Chronic absences, even with advanced notice, may result in incomplete or failing grades.


Exams. There will be two in-class essay exams over the course of the semester. The first is tentatively scheduled at Week 5 and the second at Week 12. These dates may change depending on the pace and progress of class discussions.


Precis. Over the course of the semester, each student must summarize and critique two assigned readings. These assignments, which I refer to as the "precis," must be presented orally to the class (in small groups if necessary) and then submitted to me in written form (one page, single-spaced). This approach is designed to help the class become familiar with a large and diverse body of literature without having to read each article in its entirety. Each precis consists of: 1) a bibliographic reference of the source, 2) the author’s objective, 3) the author's method (if appropriate), the author's conclusions, and your critique which includes your assessment of whether the author has adequately satisfied his/her objectives. In most cases, you will select these articles on your own with my assistance. The precis will be graded on a pass/no pass basis.


Policy Analysis. Each student is required to research and write a professionally structured analysis and set of recommendations dealing with a specific environmental problem and/or program. The length of the analysis should be approximately ten pages (typed/double spaced). The style must be compatible with that of the American Political Science Association, Chicago Manual of Style, Modern Languages Association, or any professionally recognized style manual, and the format should generally follow the structure of policy evaluations conducted by the U.S. General Accounting Office.

Choosing the topic is up to you, but it is your responsibility to make sure that I have approved your topic before the third week of classes. For example, in the past, students have evaluated national and state water and air pollution control policies, environmental provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement, managing exotic species, Minnesota fishing regulations, national energy policy, international wildlife management, solid waste management, recycling, nuclear power at Prairie Island, Winona land use planning, and many other topics. All federal, state, local, and international environmental problems and programs are suitable for this project, but you should remember that data and published literature vary greatly depending on the topic and the governmental level of policy being considered.


You are required to hand in a typed outline of this analysis midway through the semester (or sooner if possible), a final written version on week twelve, and a ten minute oral presentation of your paper during the last three weeks of class.


Grade Calculation. The combined average of your exam grades and your policy analysis grade will count equally toward your final grade. Remember that your precis receive only a pass or no pass grade, meaning that they are required for the course but they do not apply to your final letter grade. My criteria for judging your exams and your policy analysis are the following:

    1. Knowledge of assigned reading

2. Skill in conducting thorough and systematic research

    1. Success in applying relevant course material to written and oral reports



Course Outline

Week I. Nature, Politics, and Global Realities (University Studies Outcomes A,B,C)

A. Course Overview

B. Ecology and Politics: From Plato to Rachel Carson

  1. A Primer on American Politics & Recent History of Environmental Policy

Required Reading: Cortner & Moote, Chpt. 1: Politics and Natural Resources: Making the Link

Week II. The Environmental Policy Making Cycle (University Studies A,B,C,D)

A. Institutional Actors

B. The Policy Cycle

C. Lawmaking & Legislation

D. Rulemaking & Administrative Law Issues

Required Reading: Kubasek Chpts.: 1 The American Legal System: The Source of Environmental Law;

2 The Litigation Process and Other Tools for Resolving Environmental Disputes; 3 Administrative Law and Its Impact on the Environment; 4 An Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy

Week III. Environmentalism(s) and Alternative Policy Theories (University Studies Outcome D)

  1. Free-Market Conservatives
  2. Structural Reformers
  3. Social Ecology
  4. Reform Ecology
  5. Deep Ecology
  6. Guardians

Required Reading: Cortner & Moote Chpts. 2 The Evolution of Ecosystem Management; 3 A Paradigm Shift?; 4 Policy Paradoxes; 5 Philosophical Underpinnings

Week IV. Environmental Policy Designs (University Studies Outcomes D,E)

  1. Research
  2. Subsidies
  3. Command & Control Regulation
  4. Economic Incentives & Pollution Credits

Required Reading: Cortner & Moote Chpts. 6 Collaborative Stewardship in Action; 7 Effective Governmental Policies and Structures; 8 The Future of Ecosystem Management

Week V. Air Pollution (University Studies Outcomes A,B,C,D,E)

  1. EXAM #1 (Covering material from wks 1 through 4)
  2. U.S. Clean Air Act & Amendments
  3. Transboundary Problems
  4. Administrative Rule Legitimization Problems

Required Reading: Kubasek Chpt. 5: Air Quality Control

Week VI. Water Pollution Control (University Studies Outcomes A,B,C,D,E)

  1. U.S. Federal Water Pollution Control Act & Clean Water Act
  2. Point versus Non-point Source Pollution
  3. Global Water Quality and Quantity Issues

Required Reading: Kubasek Chpt. 6: Water Quality Control

Week VII. Hazardous and Toxic Wastes (University Studies Outcomes A,B,C,D,E)

  1. U.S. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
  2. Superfund
  3. Scientific and Legal Challenges

Required Reading: Kubasek Chpts.: 7 Controlling Toxic Substances; 8 Waste Management and Hazardous Releases

Week VIII. Energy Sufficiency & Safety (University Studies Outcomes A,B,C,D,E)

  1. Hard versus Soft Energy Paths
  2. Natural Resource Impacts of Energy Use
  3. Radioactive Waste, Transportation, and Storage

Required Reading: Kubasek Chpt.: 9 Energy and Natural Resources (271-291)

Week IX. Public Lands Management (University Studies Outcomes A,B,C,D,E)

  1. Land Tenure & the Commons

B. Multiple Use/ Sustained Yield

C. Wilderness & Open Spaces

Required Reading: Kubasek Chpt.: 9 Energy and Natural Resources (292-298)

Week X. Wildlife/ Habitat Management (University Studies Outcomes A,B,C,D,E)

  1. Bio-diversity Protection
  2. Habitat Conservation Planning
  3. Reserves, Preserves, and Refuges

Required Reading: Kubasek Chpt.: 9 Energy and Natural Resources (302-307)

Week XI. Wetland & River Basin Management (University Studies Outcomes A,B,C,D,E)

  1. Water Resource Planning
  2. Dredge & Fill Management
  3. Inter-state and International River Basin Compacts

Required Reading: Kubasek Chpt.: 9 Energy and Natural Resources (295-302)



Week XII. International Policy Development & Restructuring (University Studies Outcomes A,B,C,D,E)

  1. EXAM #2 (Covering material from wks. 5 through 11)
  2. U.N. Environmental Program
  3. European Union
  4. Compliance & Coordination Issues for the Future

Required Reading: Kubasek Chpt.: 10 International Environmental Law

Weeks XIII-XV. Reserved for Student Presentations (University Studies Outcomes A,B,C,D,E)

    1. Week XIII is reserved for student research dealing with international environmental policy issues
    2. Week XIV is reserved for student research dealing with national environmental policy issues.
    3. Week XV is reserved for student research dealing with state and local environmental policy issues.


This syllabus & reading assignments may change with advanced notice.