Course Detail

Political Science: U.S.Environmental Politics

POLS 130 Z1 (CRN: 60164)

3 Credit Hours

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About POLS 130 Z1

Environmental and natural resources politics in the American context. Analysis of the environmental movement and political theories, issues, processes, and institutions. Prerequisite: POLS 021.


Jody Prescott ()


Dates: July 13 - August 7, 2015; Prereq: POLS 021; Sophomores, Jrs and Srs only


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Section Description

Although it is not an introductory course, Environmental Politics is an introduction to the complexities of dealing with the environment at the intersection of policy, law and science. This course is suited to the non political-science major who is interested in knowing more about the broad range of laws, regulations, policies, and interest groups that effect change in the way we handle environmental issues in the U.S, but who may not have a background in political science or law classes. I was a zoology major as an undergrad, and as a practicing attorney I handle environmental compliance and litigation issues ? to be competent I must know how things work legally and scientifically. For political science majors, this course is particularly useful as a launching pad for further study because of the complementary way in which the two textbooks will allow us to interweave the applicable politics with the relevant law. Importantly, as distinguished from classes on environmental policy and environmental law, this class focuses on the politics that underlie the formulation and implementation of these authorities, rather than the authorities themselves.

Section Expectation

My intent for you in this class is to develop the ability to both holistically assess the big picture of any given environmental political issue, and to critically assess and understand the functional and dynamic relationships between law, policy, and constituencies ? that is, environmental politics ? that play out in the resolution of these issues. As a result, you should by the end of the course be able to: ? Demonstrate mastery of basic concepts and theories of American politics and public policy making and to demonstrate the ability to apply these to matters of environmental politics. ? Analyze the distinctive character of environmental problems and politics. ? Describe and analyze basic characteristics of the American political system, the key actors and institutions, and the main processes through which these actors engage in environmental politics. ? Use a set of arguments from one reading and apply them to analyze critically a different issue or set of arguments. ? Advance a normative position on critical matters of environmental politics and policy, backing this judgment with sound arguments and evidence. ? Demonstrate the above skills in written essays and in extemporaneous discussions.


Because of the pace of the course, there will only be two graded events, a two-hour midterm exam at the end of the second week of class, and a cumulative three and three-quarters-hour final exam given at the end of the course. Each exam will have a multiple choice portion worth 25 percent of the exam grade, and an essay section worth 75 percent. The midterm exam will be worth 30 percent of the class grade, and the final worth 60 percent. The multiple choice questions will assess your understanding of the readings. The essay portions will test your ability to quickly conduct concise and accurate situational analysis and address hypothetical situations involving the application of what you have learned through discussion in class. Exam make-ups are rarely given, and will be at my discretion and convenience. 10 percent of the grade will be for class participation ? attendance at each of the ten classes is worth 1 percent of the final grade.


Course runs from to



Old Mill 523 (View Campus Map)


to on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

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