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Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management

Developing the skills to better understand and manage environmental problems is the core concern of the Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management concentration within the Master of Public Affairs program at SPEA.

Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management is a rigorous course of study that integrates skill-based courses in public policy, management, and environmental affairs with training in the environmental sciences.

The concentration includes coursework in:

  • Data analysis and modeling
  • Environmental economics and policy
  • Environmental resource management and policy
  • Environmental law

These courses are complemented by more specialized policy and management coursework such as environmental risk analysis, geographic information systems, benefit-cost analysis, intergovernmental systems management, and other policy analysis and tool-based courses. Additionally, students develop a core area of knowledge in a particular environmental or natural resource-based sub-discipline, such as lake and watershed management, forest ecology, environmental chemistry, hazardous materials, or other environmental or resource-based media.

Careers in Environmental Policy & Natural Resource Management

Graduates with the Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management concentration assume management positions in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in local and state agencies, federal government, corporations, consulting firms, international and intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental and community-based organizations. Here is a sampling of recent placements:

  • Associate, ICF Consulting, Fairfax, VA
  • Senior Environmental Officer, Agency for International Development, Washington, DC
  • Public Utilities Specialist, Bonneville Power Administration, Vancouver, WA
  • Project Scientist, TRC Consulting, Chicago, IL
  • Energy Policy Analyst, City of Portland, Portland, OR
  • Environmental Specialist, Science Applications International Corporation, Reston, VA
  • Ecoassociate, Environmental Careers Organizations, Washington, DC
  • Assistant Project Manager, International City/County Management Association, Washington, DC
  • Urban Program Manager, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Soil and Water Division, Fredericksburg, VA
  • Program Analyst, Booz Allen Hamilton, Washington, DC
  • Environmental Policy Analyst, Government Accountability Office, Washington, DC
  • Research Fellow, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC
  • Wind Energy and Environmental Dispute Resolution Specialist, Resolve, Incorporated, Washington, DC
  • Environmental Scientist, Safety Kleen Corporation, Boulder, CO

Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management Curriculum

All MPA students develop needed technical tools with the MPA core
(18 credit hours).

The concentration includes four required courses which introduce students to the fundamentals of environmental policy and natural resource management:

  • Data Analysis and Modeling for Public Affairs (V 507)
  • Environmental Economics and Policy (V 625)
  • Natural Resource Management and Policy (V 643)
  • Environmental Law (V 645)

SPEA also offers a wide range of elective courses to meet individual objectives. This broad range of possibilities enables you to focus your concentration on those aspects that you wish to pursue and to develop career-enhancing capabilities. With the approval of a Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management advisor, students may select from many elective options, including the following examples:

  • Environmental Risk Analysis (E 560)
  • Intergovernmental Systems Management (V 518)
  • Management Science for Public Affairs (V 539)
  • Benefit-Cost Analysis of Public and Environmental Policies (V 541)
  • Law, Public Management, and Public Policy (V 640)

Students will also select two courses from one of the following groups:

  • Group I: Environmental Management
    • Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment (E 431)
    • Application of Geographic Information Systems (E 529)
    • Environmental Chemistry (E 536)
    • Aquatic Chemistry (E 539)
    • Hazardous Materials (E 542)
    • Environmental Management (E 543)
    • Environmental Engineering (E 552)
    • Toxicology in the 21st Century (E 555)
    • Environmental Risk Analysis (E 560)
  • Group II: Resource Management
    • Fisheries and Wildlife Management (E 460)
    • Fisheries and Wildlife Management Laboratory (E 461)
    • Applied Ecology (E 527)
    • Forest Ecology and Management (E 528)
    • Ecosystem Structure and Function (BIOL-L 575)

For complete details of the Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management curriculum, please see the Graduate Bulletin.

Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management Learning Outcomes

To participate effectively in the development and implementation of environmental and natural resource policy, and the management of organizations involved with these activities.

  1. Knowledge of the scientific, political, policy, and legal contexts in which environmental and natural resource management and policy issues arise.
  2. An understanding of, and the ability to apply, analytical, managerial, scientific, and legal tools essential to policy development and implementation and the management of environmental and natural resource programs and activities.

Dual Concentrations

Dual concentrations with Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management and other concentrations offered by SPEA—such as Nonprofit Management—offer unique advantages for those wanting to make a difference in particular areas of public affairs. Our faculty work to accommodate these specialized professional interests in the design of student programs.

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