Course Descriptions

The Core Curriculum

ENVP U6234
Sustainability Management

The course translates academic study in organization theory, bureaucracy, and public management into practical lessons for public managers. We develop a framework for understanding and applying tools that can be used to influence organization behavior and obtain resources from the organization's environment. Memo-writing, group process and communication skills are taught through hands-on assignments.

Earth system-related case studies present a set of problems for public managers to address. The focus is on state and local environmental management cases, and treatment of local land use and NIMBY (not in my backyard) issues. Cases will deal with public, private, and nonprofit environmental management, and will include U.S. and international cases. Each week students are either briefed by a group of their colleagues on a case or submit a two-page memo on the week's case.

Click here for the course syllabus.

ENVP U6310
Quantitative Techniques and Systems Analysis in Policymaking

This course concentrates on the quantitative techniques of organizational decision-making. Students learn how to formulate and design policy questions amenable to empirical inquiry, as well as how to identify and apply specific measurement and analytic methods appropriate to particular questions. Students are also introduced to the foundations of systems analysis: how to model and understand the design, operation, and impact of a system. The course begins with a discussion of the formulation of policy questions, the collection and organization of data, and the analysis and presentation of facts. Basic concepts of measures of central tendency, descriptive quantitative measures, and advanced inferential statistical techniques are covered. These techniques include multiple regression, time series and factor analysis, as well as the organization and presentation of advanced statistical analyses. Students are introduced to the use of computer-based data analysis and the rudimentary modeling of systems. Early in the fall semester, the class is divided into several groups to work on specific earth systems policy problems. The groups draw samples, design survey instruments, conduct surveys, code, clean, set up, and analyze data. They also write and present analytic reports, as the course places a heavy emphasis on presenting information to decision-makers.

ENVP U6224
Environmental Data Analysis

This course introduces students to statistical data analysis in the context of environmental issues. The is taught through a combination of lectures and laboratory exercises. The course encourages a rigorous examination of the many applications of statistical analysis in climate change assessment, environmental justice, land use, land cover change and measuring the impacts of natural hazards on populations. This course is recommended but not required.

Click here for the course syllabus.


ENVP U8213-U8216
Microeconomics and Policy Analysis I and II

This two-semester course shows students that it is both possible and useful to think about public policy rigorously to see what assumptions work; to understand how formal models operate; to question vagueness and clichés; and to make sophisticated ethical arguments. An important goal of the class is to have students work in groups to apply microeconomic concepts to current public policy issues having to do with urban environmental and earth systems.

The course includes problem sets designed to teach core concepts and their application. In the spring semester, the emphasis is on the application of concepts to analyze contemporary policy problems. Some time is also devoted to international trade and regulation, and industrial organization issues. Students not only learn microeconomic concepts, but also how to explain them to decision-makers. Student groups take on specific earth system policy issues, analyze options through the use of microeconomic concepts, and then make oral presentations to the class.

ENVP U8201
Financial Management

The course provides an introduction to budgeting and financial control as a means of influencing the behavior of public organizations. Concepts include the budget process and taxation, intergovernmental revenues, municipal finance, bonds, control of expenditures, purchasing, debt management, productivity enhancement, and nonprofit finance. Students learn about the fiscal problems that managers typically face, and how they seek to address them. Students also gain experience in conducting financial analysis and facility with spreadsheet programs.
Case materials utilize earth systems issues as well as other policy issues. A computer lab section is an essential aspect of the course, as it teaches students to use spreadsheet software to perform practical exercises regarding the budgeting and financial management of a hypothetical state environmental agency.

Click here for the course syllabus.

ENVP U6320
Political Context of Public and Private Management

This course is recommended but not required. This course focuses on the role of politics, interest groups, elected leaders, public opinion, and governmental institutions in the formulation and management of public policy and programs. It includes a discussion of agenda setting, political management, and political-executive relations. The course also discusses campaign finance rules, the changing role of the media in public policy, and the development of international environmental regimes. It will analyze the impact of citizen participation and the media on public policy with an emphasis on environmental policy.
Click here for the course syllabus.

The Workshops in Applied Earth Systems Management and Applied Earth Systems Policy Analysis
The chief advantage of this workshop experience is the practical training gained by working on real problems where student analyses and reports may have an impact on actual public sector operations. The basic objective of the Workshops in Applied Earth Systems Management and Applied Earth Systems Policy Analysis is to teach students how to integrate their understanding of natural science, social science, policy studies, and management in a problem-solving exercise.

Summer and autumn semesters:

ENVP U9229-U9230
The Workshop in Applied Earth Systems Management I and II
In the summer and autumn semesters, the Workshop emphasizes management issues. Students enroll in small, faculty-advised project teams and design a detailed operational plan for addressing an important public policy problem. Each Workshop faculty member selects a piece of proposed but not yet enacted state, federal, or local environmental law (or a U.N. resolution) and students are asked to develop a plan for implementing and managing the new program. In the summer semester, the Workshop groups write reports explaining the environmental science aspects of a management problem to political decision-makers who are not scientists. During the autumn semester the Workshop completes the operational plan for implementing the program. Both the summer and autumn Workshop projects will be on issues central to the two earth systems problem themes that the cohort will focus on throughout their course of study.

Click here for the summer 2013 course handbook.

Spring semester:

ENVP U9232
The Workshop in Applied Earth Systems Policy Analysis

In the spring semester, new groups are formed to undertake analytic projects for real-world clients in government and nonprofit agencies. These teams, working under the supervision of faculty members, write a report analyzing an actual environmental policy or management problem faced by their clients. Again, projects selected will be relevant to the cohort's two earth systems problem themes.

The Environmental Science and Earth Systems Concentration

The Environmental Science and Earth Systems Concentration is comprised of both natural and social science courses.

The five natural science courses are:

    •Environmental Chemistry
    •Environmental Toxicology
    •Ecology and Biodiversity

The three social science courses are:

    • Earth Systems and Environmental Politics, Policy, and Management
    • The Economics of Sustainable Development
    • Ethics, Values, and Justice

The science component of the concentration is designed to enable students to understand enough science to manage the work of science experts. Our goal is for students to be capable of more than passive consumption or understanding of environmental science. However, we do not expect MPAs to become producers of scientific research. The focus of the environmental science taught in the program is on understanding the ecological processes that directly effect human health and well being.

The policy and management issues our graduates are being trained to address include global change issues such as global warming but more frequently focus on:

    • the provision of safe drinking water;
    • environmentally-sound sewage treatment and disposal;
    • solid and toxic waste management; and
    • the control of local sources of air pollution.

The science courses required in this concentration are designed to support global and local environmental decision-making and management.

ENVP U6220
Environmental Chemistry

The course teaches basic techniques for getting to know an environment and understand key chemical processes central to environmental science. Students build an understanding of the key chemical processes related to pollution generation and control. The focuses of this course are the processes that affect the fate and transport of specific compounds that act as contaminants on local- to global-scale levels. The behavior of contaminants is influenced by physical, chemical, and biological processes naturally occurring within various ecosystems. This course describes these processes and the extent to which they affect different classes of contaminants. Students learn how to analyze chemical information they will encounter as environmental managers.

Click here for the course syllabus.

ENVP U6221
Risk Assessment and Environmental Toxicology

This course will explore the effects of different contaminants on the health of all organisms within an ecosystem, with a particular focus on human health. While toxicologists study a wide variety of toxicants, from naturally occurring poisons (venoms) to synthetic chemicals, this course will emphasize anthropogenic toxicants, in the context of how (and whether) exposure to such toxicants should be controlled: risk assessment.  The main goal of this course is to foster an understanding of how environmental scientists think and solve environmental issues and most importantly to develop an expertise in assessing the validity of scientific research and its conclusions.

Click here for the course syllabus.

ENVP U6115

Students learn how the atmosphere, oceans, and freshwater systems interact to affect climate. Causes of greenhouse warming, energy production and alternatives are studied. A local case study focuses on planning for climate changes on interannual, decadal, and centennial time scales. A goal of the course is to teach an appreciation of uncertainties and predictability in earth systems.  A particular emphasis will be placed on the role of humans, in the last centuries, on the perturbation of the natural climate and how these perturbations can be characterized and discerned from natural fluctuations.  Other concepts examined include an integrated view of the Earth’s energy budget, structure and circulation of the atmosphere and the ocean, interaction between oceans and atmosphere.

Click here for the course syllabus.

ENVP U6116

Students are introduced to the hydrologic cycle as well as processes governing water quantity and quality. Students learn how the atmosphere, oceans, and freshwater systems interact to affect the hydrological cycle and climate. This course focuses on basic physical principles (evaporation, condensation, precipitation, runoff, stream flow, percolation, and groundwater flow), as well as environmentally relevant applications based on case studies. Most specifically, students will be exposed to water quantity and issues from global to regional scales and how human and natural processes affect water availability in surface and groundwater systems.

Click here for the course syllabus.

ENVP U6111
Principles of Ecology

This course facilitates learning about 1) basic principles related to ecological interactions of life on earth and 2) the causes and consequence of changes in biological diversity. For the first portion of this course, we will focus on how organisms interact with one another and with the non-living environment. For the second portion of this course, we will study the effects of biodiversity at the genetic, population, community, and landscape levels. This course aims to give students an understanding of the ways in which biology can contribute to the solution of environmental problems facing human society and to contribute biological perspectives to an interdisciplinary approach to environmental problem solving.

ENVP U6112
Urban Ecology

This course facilitates learning about how ecology can inform land use decisions and applied management strategies of natural resources (e.g. water, air, biodiversity), particularly in urban environments. Towards that end, this course covers topics ranging from applied ecology and conservation biology to sustainable development. It uses a cross disciplinary approach to understanding the nature of ecology and biological conservation, as wells as the social, philosophical and economic dimensions of land use strategies.  The course will focus on applications and problem-solving in issues related to urban development. The course will give particular attention to developing skills using geographic information systems (GIS). Students will gain a basic, practical understanding of GIS applications using ArcView GIS 9.3.

ENVP U6241
Earth Systems and Environmental Politics, Policy, and Management

This is the first social science course in the earth systems concentration. Its goal is to take a system-level approach to environmental policy problems. Issues presented include defining the environmental problem; the politics of the environment; environmental agenda setting; pollution prevention; U.S. pollution control through regulation, public works, and market incentives; cross-media and cross national environmental problems; and the response of societies, economies, and political systems to environmental issues. The course also discusses international environmental regime development, conflict resolution, and citizen participation in environmental decision-making.

Click here for the course syllabus.

ENVP U6225
Ethics, Values, and Justice

This course examines the way in which the earth has been viewed by various societies and cultures today and over time. Differing views of the relationship of humans to the environment are discussed and debated, and the impact of ethical systems on environmental policy and practices are described and analyzed. Environmental values, perceptions, norms, and behaviors are studied and analyzed. Environmental justice and the impact of racism on environmental outcomes are discussed in detail. The course also discusses the environmental policy and management process from the standpoint of ethics, as distinct from efficiency, effectiveness, expertise, cost, or other organizational considerations. Attempts are made to discover some guidelines for ethical stewardship of the planet and for formulating policy decisions with ethical considerations factored in.

 Click here for the course syllabus.