Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Introduction to important issues in contemporary environmental law, policy, and economics. Discusses the roles and interactions of Congress, federal agencies, state governments, and the courts in dealing with environmental problems.
Assessment of current and potential future energy systems. Covers resources, extraction, conversion, and end-use technologies, with emphasis on meeting 21st-century regional and global energy needs in a sustainable manner.
Explores the evolution of food production, from farm to plate, in the US and globally. Considers the science, economics, and politics behind the transition from pre-industrial to an industrial food system. Debates the costs and benefits of genetically modified food, organic agriculture, and local/regional food production.
The Schumpeterian notion of technological innovation as "the engine of growth" is being challenged as the globalization of trade is increasingly seen as the driving force of industrial economies.
First subject in the Environmental Policy and Planning sequence. Reviews philosophical debates concerning growth and scarcity vs. deep ecology. Examines the ongoing policy debate concerning "command-and-control" vs. market-oriented approaches to regulation. Considers the debate regarding the importance of expertise vs. indigenous knowledge.
Reviews and analyzes federal and state regulation of air and water pollution and hazardous wastes. Analyzes pollution as an economic problem and the failure of markets. Emphasizes use of legal mechanisms and alternative approaches (such as economic incentives and voluntary approaches) to control pollution and to encourage chemical accident and pollution prevention.
Examines the economic impact of climate change, the costs of mitigation, and the challenges that climate change poses to conventional approaches to policy analysis, including among others: the paradoxes of intergenerational discounting; the difficulty of taking account of extreme uncertainty and irreversible risks, and incorporation of non-monetized values into a cost-benefit framework.