Geography 439: US Environmental Policy and Regulation
This course covers a broad cross-section of American environmental policy. The goals of this course will be:
- to familiarize the student with the spectrum of major US environmental regulations, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, CERCLA, regulations involving environmental justice and climate change
- to make students literate in the specialized language of environmental regulation
- to see how these policies affect our daily interaction with the environment
- to also view issues of policy through the critical and geographic viewpoints often adopted by scientists and academics
This course covers a broad cross-section of American environmental policy by focusing on specific statutes and policy arenas. In this course we will survey the basic elements of American environmental policy and regulation, but mainly focus on the specific people, sites and scales at which environmental decision-making happens through primary-source case material. Understanding environmental outcomes in a complex society depends on observing both the structure of regulations and the geographic and social context in which such regulations emerge. This course will maintain a dual focus on (a) the legal and regulatory aspects of environmental regulation and (b) the specific geographic and social features of actual cases in which regulations and policy are used. We will review the architecture of US environmental law in depth, but also pay attention to the social and environmental context into which such laws and regulations must enter in order to be effective. Each topic will generally be treated in three class periods: the first two will consist of lecture by the instructor (usually on Mondays and Wednesdays), and in the third the students will discuss readings, participate in group activities and debates/discussions (usually on Fridays). The readings will come from both the policy world and from academic and policy scholarship, on the issue of the week.