Environmental Policy & Politics – PUBP 3315A
Somewhere around the time “An Inconvenient Truth” came out, caring about the environment went from the fringe to the mainstream. “Climate change”, “deforestation”, “biodiversity loss”, and “water scarcity” went from being technical terms in the pages of scientific journals to the front pages of the major papers. But translating our increased concern for the environment into effective policy is no straightforward task. Perhaps unlike any other form of policy, environmental policy-making tests – and expands – the limits of our democratic processes and institutions.
The class will cover topics ranging from the local scale on up to the global. Although a variety of specific areas will be covered, we will focus in particular on three case studies: water policy in Georgia, forest policy in the age of climate change, and a third case study to be determined by the class. In the spirit of the current move in environmental policy-making towards “deliberative process” the class will be highly participatory, with traditional exams being complemented by class projects in which students will be challenged both to examine multiple sides of an issue AND to think critically about how the institutions we have (or need to develop) deal with these multiple sides in making and implementing decisions.
The instructor for the course is Paul Hirsch, who previously taught environmental politics and policy at Emory’s department of Environmental Studies. He has conducted research on Georgia’s state water planning process (sponsored by the National Science Foundation) and is embarking on a new project sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation to study the issue of “trade-offs” between economic development and protecting the environment. He also co-founded The Georgia Community Loan Fund, a statewide nonprofit designed to invest in projects that integrate environmental conservation and affordable housing.