CCOG for PS 297 archive revision 201704

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Effective Term:
Fall 2017 through Summer 2021

Course Number:
PS 297
Course Title:
Environmental Politics and Policy
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Introduces the politics of environmental policymaking in the United States. Examines the key factors behind environmental policy conflicts, with an emphasis on themes and patterns that cut across cases. Explores topics such as interest groups, social movements, political culture, public opinion, court decisions, political leadership, media coverage and partisanship. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion, students should be able to:

  1. Identify and analyze the key variables that influence the resolution of environmental policy conflicts in the United States.
  2. Demonstrate a strong understanding of the institutional context within which environmental policies are proposed, formulated and implemented.
  3. Critically evaluate the pros and cons of various regulatory strategies and the challenges associated with implementation.
  4. Apply theories of policy development to real-world environmental problems affecting our communities and natural areas.
  5. Apply sustainable practices in the workplace, in our communities, and in the development of public policy (SPARC Green Outcome).
  6. Use an awareness of the impacts of ecological issues and policies on communities of diverse backgrounds in order to interact with sensitivity, respect, and a sense of responsibility to others and the future (SPARC Green Outcome).

Social Inquiry and Analysis

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to apply methods of inquiry and analysis to examine social contexts and the diversity of human thought and experience.

Course Activities and Design

The course design will encourage active student engagement in the learning process. Possible course activities include interactive lectures, class discussions, student debates, oral presentations, reading reflections, research papers, short-answer exams, films, and guest speakers.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Methods of student assessment may include the following:

  1. Short-answer exams testing students' depth of understanding of key concepts and topics.
  2. Short-essay exams testing students' ability to think holistically about the interrelationship of major course themes.
  3. Small writing assignments requiring students to reflect critically on either required reading material or current events.
  4. Analytical research paper requiring students to explore a particular environmental policy conflict in greater depth and sophistication.
  5. Oral presentations on assigned readings, optional readings, current events, or term paper research and findings.
  6. Student debates challenging students to defend competing perspectives on contemporary environmental policy conflicts.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  1. Environmental Policy: Historical Context
    1. Precursors to and emergence of environmentalism
    2. Major policy trends and developments since the 1970s
  2. Environmental Policymaking: Institutional Setting
    1. Constitutional origins and constraints
    2. Congressional power: Partisanship, gridlock and ambiguous mandates
    3. Executive power: Presidential leadership and agency discretion
    4. Judicial power: Competing judicial philosophies
    5. Federalism: Sharing and debating policymaking responsibilities
  3. Environmental Policymaking: Socio-cultural Setting
    1. Political culture, values and public opinion
    2. Social movements and counter-movements
    3. Interest groups
    4. Science and economics
    5. Media and messaging
  4. Risk Assessment
    1. The role and limits of science
    2. Challenges associated with determining acceptable risk
    3. Risk assessment, racism and environmental justice
  5. Air and Water Pollution
    1. The birth of modern environmentalism
    2. The statutory framework
    3. Regulatory challenges
    4. Contemporary issues and climate change
  6. Toxic and Hazardous Waste
    1. A growing and daunting problem
    2. The statutory framework
    3. Regulatory challenges
    4. Contemporary issues
  7. Energy Policy
    1. Energy and environmental policy
    2. The government versus the market
    3. From fossil fuels to renewable energy
    4. Energy policy in the 21st century
  8. Public Land Management
    1. The original environmental problem
    2. History of the public domain and federal land agencies
    3. Trends in the use and value of public lands
    4. Contemporary management conflicts