ESPP Academic Year Courses


ESPP 77. Technology, Environment and Society
Course ID Number: 112610
Sheila Jasanoff
Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:30-11:45am. Location: Zoom
An introduction to the history, organization, goals, and ideals of environmental protection in America. Examines the shifts in emphasis from nature protection to pollution control to sustainability over the past hundred years and develops critical tools to analyze changing conceptions of nature and the role of science in environmental policy formulation. Of central interest is the relationship between knowledge, uncertainty, and political or legal action. Theoretical approaches are combined with case studies of major episodes and controversies in environmental protection.

ESPP 90G. The Law and Policy of Climate Change: Influencing Decision Makers

Course ID Number: 208113

Aladdine Joroff

Fridays, 10:30am-12:00pm; 4:00-5:30pm. Location: Zoom

Empirical data demonstrate that the climate is changing and that these changes could produce increasingly serious consequences over the course of this century.  Governments and private actors around  the world are strategizing, debating, lobbying, implementing, and defending mechanisms to both mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.  This course will explore (i) the legal framework in which climate change action occurs in the United States, (ii) policy tools available to regulators, (iii) impacts on regulated entities and individuals and (iv) opportunities for private stakeholders to participate in and influence climate change decisions.


ESPP 90N. Addressing the Global Climate Crisis: Challenges for Both Developed and Developing Economies
Course ID Number: 123858
Michael B. McElroy
Thursdays, 3:00-5:30pm. Location: HUCE 429

The seminar will discuss the nature of the climate challenge and the implications it poses for different communities and different parts of the world. Mitigating negative impacts of human induced climate change will require an urgent transition from the current global fossil fuel-based energy economy to one based on renewable alternatives. Possibilities include wind, solar, hydro, biomass and potentially nuclear. The seminar will review options with specific attention to differences in the challenges faced by developed economies such as the US and Europe and large developing economies such as China, India and parts of Africa. Can we chart a feasible path to net zero global carbon emissions by 2050?





ESPP 90E. Conservation Biology
Course ID Number: 119814
The major goal of conservation biology is to preserve and recover genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity through evidence-based assessment, analysis, and management. This course will integrate evolutionary and ecological theory into resource management, economics, sociology, and political science to explore conservation strategies associated with habitat fragmentation and loss, exotic species invasions, over-harvesting and sustainable development, re-wilding, and other relevant topics across the ever-changing wildlife-human landscape relationship. State-of-the-art tools and methodologies will be introduced and showcased with real examples. Weekly classes will involve discussions of emerging conservation issues through the reading of research papers as well as hands-on learning of methodologies of conservation science through analysis of real data. Seminars and discussion forums with guest researchers and field trips with hands-on data collection will also be offered.


ESPP 90M. Natural Climate Solutions: Feasible or Fantasy?
Course ID Number: 118736
Daniel Schrag 
“Natural climate solutions” are a set of conservation, restoration and improved land management actions that some have claimed can offer more than 30% of the required mitigation of “near-term” carbon emissions to hold global warming below 2°C.  Some have criticized these claims for overstating the potential of biological carbon sinks, arguing that the advocates for natural climate solutions are motivated by conservation of biodiversity rather than mitigation of climate change.  And yet the clamor around natural climate solutions in the policy world continues to grow, with multiple bipartisan legislative efforts in the new Congress focused on strategies such as carbon sequestration in soils by farmers.  In this course, we will explore various dimensions of natural climate solutions, including reduced deforestation, reforestation, afforestation, wetlands restoration, biochar, no-till agriculture and other farming practices to increase carbon content of soils.  We will examine the feasibility of each proposed action and also the potential limitations.  We will also explore policy dimensions for encouraging such efforts, if desirable, through direct subsidies, regulation, or integration into carbon pricing regimes including carbon offsets.  By the end of the semester, we hope that all participants will have a clearer understanding of the potential role for natural climate solutions in national and international climate mitigation strategies.


ESPP 90S. The Technology, Economics, and Public Policy of Renewable Energy
Course ID Number: 127572
George Baker
Energy is the lifeblood of economic activity, indeed of human society. However, the planet's stores of easily accessed fossil fuels are limited, and the climatological cost of continuing to rely on fossil fuels is high. This course examines the long run and short run prospects for renewable energy. We start by understanding the technology of various renewables, including hydro, solar, wind, biomass, etc. We then examine the economics of these technologies, and how policies (subsidies, taxes, regulations) affect their viability. Special attention will be paid to the interaction of technology, economics, and public policy.