ENVIRON 212: U.S. Environmental Policy

Reader requirements: professional experience in environmental policy with background in environmental science, management, law, policy, civil or environmental engineering, industry.

  1. Course Information
  2. Schedule
  3. Giving Feedback

Course Information

Instructor: Prof. Elizabeth A. Albright

US Domestic Environmental policy aims to provide a broad overview of the key institutions, organizations and policy processes central to environmental management. As a class, we will examine the evolution of policy instruments used to manage air and water pollution—including command-and control policies, market-based cap and trade programs, self-regulation, certification and information-based policy instruments. We will also cover environmental politics and policy at the regional and local levels, considering topics of environmental justice, resilience, collaborative processes and ecosystem management.

These policy concepts will be examined across many environmental policy domains including: water, fisheries, energy, air pollution, toxics, climate change, among others. Throughout the semester we will bring in examples of current environmental issues, such as, but not limited to, food production, endangered species management, the Keystone XL pipeline and the domestic dimensions of COP21.

This course has a writing-in-the-discipline designation. Students will be required to write about the topics in the course for a wide range of audiences. Writing assignments will include standard policy memos, but also policy analysis aimed at the public through new media including blogs and twitter. Last year’s blog posts can be found here:

Student Writing Assignment

What are students writing? Policy memos and blogs aimed at the general public.
For whom?  Policy actors including elected officials, bureaucrats/government officials, stakeholders (e.g., ngo, industry groups), the general public.
Where would such writing typically be found? In a professional context (e.g., government, business).
Why would someone usually read it? Students will target their policy memos to a specific individual or audience (e.g., the mayor of a community that is struggling with a specific environmental issue) and will assume a given perspective/identity (e.g., consultant, staff/bureaucrat, industry representative). In their blog posts, students will craft an argument about a self-selected environmental topic. Their blogs should be written for a general audience.


Student – Reader Interactions

Here are the deadlines for students in the reader project:

Students work with readers on 2nd and 3rd memos;
  • 2nd memo: draft Feb 29th; final version March 7.
  • 3rd memo: draft March 30; final due April 6.
Blog (on WordPress): Readers are invited to respond to blogs. (link coming)

Link to full Syllabus:


Giving Feedback

Giving feedback is the activity around which the entire project is designed. You may have considerable professional experience giving feedback on writing — whether to colleagues, employees, or other contexts — or perhaps this is an fairly novel experience. Given the aims and nature of the Reader Project, we are hoping that our volunteers engage with student writing in a particular way–one that is quite different from what is conventionally done in other contexts.

The primary aim of the project is to help students really understand what it means to write for readers, rather than as a school assignment. Think about the following when you give feedback, whether in writing or in real time:

  • Respond as a reader rather than as an editor. (They can get basic editorial help from others.) Focus on sharing your reactions to the draft as a user of such writing. What are you thinking as you read? More