Graduate Seminar in Environment Policy
Public Policy & Administration/Environment Studies (PPA/Envs2966)
Fall 199
Th 5:30-8:15 p.m.

Office Hrs:

Professor Mary Brentwood
Amador 555D
Office 278-6810; or, Dept. phone: 278-6620; Fax: 916-278-7582
Monday & Wednesday, 10:30 am -12:00 pm; or by appointment; or,

[A] Land ethic changes the role of homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.
-Aldo Leopold


This course will examine the political, legal and social interactions that shape and define environmental policy in the United States with a specific focus on issues relevant to California and the West. Predominate environmental issues in the West include; air pollution, agricultural practices, water use, land use, hazardous and toxic waste disposal, and common resource use such as fisheries.

The modern day natural resource manager must be aware of the ecological consequences of their decisions. In this seminar we will examine environmental policy and environmental decision-making within a framework of ecosystem management.

The course begins with an introduction to environmental law. This introduction will provide the student with an overview of the varied and complex issues that can be brought before our legal system for resolution. Laws are make by humans according to the values and beliefs of a particular society. Therefore, a study of environmental policy and law must include the ethical, social, political, and historical aspects of environmental issues.

This course is taught as a seminar. It is centered on students researching topics and presenting their findings to the class. Case studies used in the course will help students learn how political, legal, and social interactions define environmental policy. The case study will provide students with an example of how to focus their individual research.


My principle objective is to make this course informative, interesting and fun. This course is designed to provide the student with an interdisciplinary overview of the various issues which impact environment policy.

Objectives of this course are as follows.

To identify the issues relevant to environmental policy and law.
To examine the interactions and relationships between policy, law, and societal values.
To develop an understanding of the ramifications of decision making based on ecological principles.
To develop an understanding of the ethical issues relevant to the development of environmental policy.
To increase research and critical thinking skills.
To develop skills in discussing complex issues in a seminar setting.
To develop skills in solving problems of environmental policy, legislation, rule-making, and enforcement.


This course is taught as a seminar. This means all students are required to attend class and be prepared to participate in discussion. In a seminar setting, we all learn from each other. No more than four absences will be allowed. All absences must be discussed with me.

Reading assignments are mandatory. Students are required to develop a research topic relevant to environmental policy. Each student will write a 20 to 30 page paper based on the topic researched. The research should include interviews that explore various perspectives of the issue. Two to three interviews should be conducted as follows. (1) And interview with a state, Federal or county official with expertise in the issue. (2) Attend a public hearing related to the issue. (3) Interview a member or the California State legislature who serves on a committee relative to the issue. (4) Attend a state, county or Federal legislative committee meeting related to the issue. (5) Interview an actor involved in the issue--an environmental advocate, an industry supporter, etc.

Each student is required to orally present their research papers to the class. Students must be prepared to answer questions and critiques of their paper. In addition, students will report on the findings of their research throughout the semester. Each student will be required to submit a 5 page book report of a book chosen from the list provided. The book report will be critiqued by another member of the seminar and the entire class will participate in the discussion.

Grades and evaluation of student performance is based on the following

Research Paper:
Hypothesis with 25 item bibliography
Comprehensive paper outline
Final Paper

Book Report (written)
Book Report Discussant (written)

Oral Presentations:

Book Report
Research Paper
Class Participation and discussion




I do not grade on the curve. I believe each student should be evaluated by his/her individual performance and not how well they compete with everyone else. That means if everyone in the class earns a "A" then everyone will receive an "A." However, if no one earns an "A" then no one will receive an "A." It's up to you!

59 & less

= A
= B
= C
= D
= F

LATE POLICY: This is a graduate seminar class which means we depend on each other for information and the deepening of knowledge. Late papers and presentations will not be accepted for any reasons that are not approved by me. You must negotiate any late assignments with me in advance if you are aware that a situation will occur preventing you from being on time. If more than one late paper or presentation occurs during the semester, substantial (one grade per assignment or more) penalties may apply to all late work.

ATTENDANCE POLICY: It is your responsibility to attend all classes on time. A good discussion and sharing of information mearns all members of the group must be in class. PLEASE BE ON TIME. It is distracting to me and your fellow students if you are late.

You must inform me of any absences in advance, if you know you can't make it. If absences are not anticipated, please let me know the reason you were absent. It is important that I know you are committed to the seminar.


  1. Hanna J. Cortner and Margaret A. Moore, The politics of Ecosystem Management, (Washington, D.C., Island Press, 1999).

  2. Norman Vig and Michael Kraft, eds., Environmental Policy in the 1990s, 3rd ed., (Washington, D.C., CQ Press, 1997).

On Reserve

Zygmunt J.B. Plater, Robert H. Abrams, and William Goldfarb, Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society, (St. Paul, MN, West Publishing Co., 1992).

Additional readings and handouts may be assigned throughout the semester.


Week 1:

Th. 9/2
Introduction to the course and overview

Week 2:

Th. 9/9
Ethics, Values, and Law
Plater, Chapter 1 (pp. 1-15 scope of environmental problems & Environmental Ethics)
Cortner, Chpts. 1 & 2
Vig & Kraft, Chapter 4, Environmental Values & Public Policy

Week 3:

Th. 9/16
Ethics, Values, and Law (Cont'd)
Plater, Chapter 1 (pp. 15-26, The case of road salt)
Cortner, Chapter 5
Vig & Kraft, chapter 8, Environmental Policy in the Courts
List of 3 Paper Topics Due

Week 4:

Th. 9/23
Economics and Cost Benefit Analysis
Plater, Chapter 2 (pp. 28-54, Economics and the Tragedy of the Commons)
Garrett Hardin, "The Tragedy of the Commons" (Handout)
Vig & Kraft, Chapter 9, Economics, Incentives, & environmental Regulations

Week 5:

Th. 9/30
Risk Assessment, Decision making
Plater, Chapter 2, (pp. 54-92)
Cortner, Chapter 4
Vig & Kraft, Chapter 10, Risk-Based Decision making
Research Paper Hypothesis & Bibliography Due

Week 6:

Th. 10/7
Governmental Policies and Structures
Cortner, Chapter 7
Vig & Kraft, Chapter 6

Week 7:

Th. 10/14
The Future of Environmental Policy
Cortner, Chapters 6 & 8
Vig & Kraft, Chapter 17

Week 8:

Th. 10/21
Book Reports and Discussant
Paper Outline Due

Week 9:

Th. 10/28
Book Reports And Discussant

Week 10:

Th. 11/4
Book Reports And Discussant

Week 11:

Th. 11/11
Paper Presentations

Week 12:

Th. 11/18
Paper Presentations

Week 13:

Th. 11/25
Happy Thanksgiving

Week 14:

Th. 12/2
Paper Presentations

Week 15:

Th. 12/9
Finish Presentations
Research Papers Due

Week 16:

Finals Week-December 13-17