Political Science | Environmental Policy
Y313 | 3715 | Day


	This course examines the politics surrounding environmental
problems.  Due to the unique nature of different environmental
problems, there is a wide diversity of interventions that have been
experimented with over time.  The result is a field that is messy at
best, and one of the fundamental lessons we will focus on is that
interventions should be context-specific to the case at hand, and
that we should avoid seeking out blueprint models of solutions.
	Nevertheless, some general lessons can be learned.  To begin
with, we will need to understand that environmental politics is a
relatively new field that emerged in response to changing societal
values and widely-held perceptions that there were man-made
environmental problems.  Therefore we will start with a brief
examination of the environmental movement.  Secondly, because we will
be focusing for the most part on environmental policy and politics in
the United States, we will examine American political culture and
governmental institutions and how these shape environmental policy
interventions.  We will then examine general policy issues such as
the role of risk assessment and the move towards using economic
instruments to shape behaviors affecting the environment.  All of
this will serve as a background for examining different areas of
environmental policy, and we will see that the unique nature of the
environmental problem often necessitates developing creative
solutions.  Next, because many environmental problems are not
isolated within a particular geographic area (i.e. there are trans-
boundary environmental issues), we will examine issues of
international environmental policy and governance, an area that, due
to unique political and institutional issues, presents a whole set of
new problems to address.  We will conclude with a brief examination
of comparative environmental policies from other industrialized
nations, as a means of showing that there are indeed a range
of “successful” policy solutions to environmental problems, and that
success often stems from consciously recognizing the unique political
environment within which policy is made.
At the end of this class, you should come away with a clearer
understanding of how environmental problems have gotten on the
agenda, how environmental policy is formulated within the American
context, what instruments are employed to address environmental
policy issues, how different environmental problems lead to unique
political issues that are particularly context-specific, how trans-
boundary environmental problems in particular have pushed the
frontiers of international governance, and how environmental policy
is conducted within different countries.