UP543 : Environmental Policy and Planning
Spring 2013

Course Syllabus


Instructor:  Arnab Chakraborty
M-W 3:30 PM - 4:50 PM
Room 19, Temple Buell Hall


The purpose of this course is to develop an understanding of the elements of environmental policy at national and state levels and to explore how environmental policies are implemented at local levels.  In a practical sense, it will give students a better understanding of how local environmental planning practice fits within the broader context of environmental policies. This is the only course in environmental policy and planning offered by the Department, and offers the chance to examine environmental planning from both theoretical and applied perspectives.  The course is intended for graduate students in Urban and Regional Planning, but is also open to graduate students with appropriate background and interests from Landscape Architecture, Geography, and relevant social sciences. 

The course objectives are to understand:

  • Values and ideas that underlie environmental policies. 

  • Important examples of environmental policies at national and global levels. 

  • Local environmental planning practice within this broader context.

The course is designed as a seminar.  This means that we are all going to learn and discuss the material together.  The instructor will not lecture.  Students are expected to do most of the talking.  The instructor's role is to intervene when necessary, to prompt discussion, to referee, to bring discussion back to the theme of the day, or to provide some context for the topic.


Participation.  The most important part of this course is your participation.  You need to complete the assigned readings and come prepared to offer your opinions, praises, critiques, confusion, excitement, boredom.   For each week’s reading assignment, you will submit your reflections on the reading (1-2 pages total) before each Tuesday’s class (include your surname and the date in the file name). You also must show up to observe the presentations of the other students.  Participation will be 40% of the course grade.

“Participation” includes attendance, reading reflections, and substantive participation in class discussions. It is assumed, at a minimum, that students will attend and turn in their reflections. Students who show that they have read and engaged the material—by means of reflections and insightful comments/questions directly related to ideas from the readings—will  receive a relatively higher participation grade.

Lead Discussion.  Each student will lead at least one class session. This will also require developing 3-5 discussion questions and sending them to the class several days ahead of time. This will represent 20% of your grade.

Environmental policy memos.  Each student will select an environmental topic and will write two memos.

The first memo will review and critique an existing state program, as if you just took charge of it. You should select a specific program that has been around for a while, so that you can obtain information about it. For example you should be able to obtain annual reports, either on the internet, or by phone request. You will argue (to a new legislature or elected official) for the purpose of your program, how you propose to reallocate (not increase) spending, and how you can improve the program’s performance.  The second memo will describe and evaluate a municipal or metropolitan area implementation of this program (or a closely related one).  This assignment will help students to make the connections from policy to local implementation.

The first memo will be due March 11, and the second one on April 29. The memos will represent 40% of your grade.


The following textbooks are required:

The Environmental Planning Handbook, by Tom Daniels and Katherine Daniels, American Planning Association, 2003

Public Policies for Environmental Protection,
2nd edition, Paul R. Portney and Robert N. Stavins, Editors, Resources for the Future, 2000.

Environmental Policy: New Directions for the Twenty-First Century, 8th edition, Norman J. Vig, Michael E. Kraft, editors, 2012.


To be announced...