Spring 2022  |  PA 4790 Section 001: Topics in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy -- Policy and the Path to Carbon Neutrality (68167)

Class Component:
3 Credits
Repeat Credit Limit:
6 Credits
Grading Basis:
A-F only
Instructor Consent:
No Special Consent Required
Instruction Mode:
In Person Term Based
Class Attributes:
Topics Course
Enrollment Requirements:
junior or senior
Times and Locations:
Regular Academic Session
01/18/2022 - 05/02/2022
Thu 04:00PM - 06:45PM
UMTC, East Bank
Science Teaching Student Svcs 512A
Enrollment Status:
Open (15 of 20 seats filled)
Also Offered:
Course Catalog Description:
Selected topics in the field of science, technology, and environmental policy. Topics vary.
Class Notes:
Class Description:

Global climate change poses perhaps the most significant environmental challenge of this generation. The response to climate challenge spans grassroots movements to coordinated international policy. As policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change continue to take shape, what do decision makers, advocates, and analysts need to know to take effective action? This course will investigate climate change policy from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, emphasizing economic logic, ethical principles, and institutional feasibility. It will focus on the energy transition, particularly in MN, as a way to provide context and action to the course.

This course will explore existing and proposed approaches to mitigate and adapt to climate change through policies that cross scales of governance (from the local to the global) and that impact a wide range of sectors (energy, transportation, manufacturing, water, agriculture, buildings, etc.). Students will have the opportunity to develop deep knowledge of climate change with respect to the energy transition to an economy with fewer GHG emissions. through a team final project. A key theme of the course will be how policy can be shaped in the face of a variety of competing interests to achieve commonly desired outcomes.

Who Should Take This Class?:
Policy is typically a graduate or professional school pursuit. As an undergraduate course, the objective here is to introduce the field to advanced undergraduates as either a further field of study or to further their understanding of policy in enhancement of knowledge of their own field. Students will gain a basic understanding of a more holistic world view and how to anchor that view to their expertise. This topics class will focus on climate policy, especially as it relates to the energy transition to fewer green house gas emissions.

Who should take this course? This course should be of interest to any student in a STEM, health or design related major that is interested in how topics in their field move from theory into an actual broader impact in the world, with a focus on climate change and the energy transition. Conversely, students in policy, global studies and business will be interested in how policy is developed from a broad range of inputs and stakeholders. Initially it may seem obvious if you think about a technology creating impact by being incorporated into a product or to a client or patient setting. But what about a broad challenge like climate change mitigation and adaptation? How does a single product or idea have an impact on that? Broader impact involves the business, public and non-profit sectors. A topic like climate change is deeply intertwined with all those sectors. How does science permeate into all those sectors? Policy is probably thought of as a political activity or the realm of students interested in political science or a government career. However policy is dependent on no one single discipline. The development of science and technology-focused policy involves taking into account the well-being of all citizens, requires excellent problem solving skills, holistic thinking, a breadth of knowledge and the ability to work with a wide range of professionals. These are all skills that will make anyone more impactful in their career. This course will cover the frameworks and practices around climate and energy policy and how they are shaped.
Learning Objectives:

Primary Learning Objectives

  • Students will understand major institutions that shape science, technology, and environmental policy.

  • Students will understand the basics of climate change, sources of emissions, and related policies.

  • Students will understand the key concepts of electrifying large elements of the economy.

  • Students will understand and apply basic public policy theory and frameworks to select case study topics.

  • Students will understand and apply policy implementation frameworks to select science or technology topics.

  • Students will apply core concepts from readings and lectures to contemporary policy issues, even in cases where the scientific or technical dimensions may be unfamiliar.

Secondary Learning Objectives

  • Students will synthesize knowledge from multiple sources.

  • Students will develop a basic understanding of the concept of system thinking and stakeholders.

  • Students will understand different paths to implementation and apply the appropriate path to their proposed intervention or solution.

  • Students will discuss and identify key leadership traits as they create arguments for panels and debates.

  • Students will defend in oral and written communications the various stages of select papers and positions..

  • Students will understand cultural and societal implications of their proposed intervention.

  • Students will work effectively in a team and with mentors.

  • Students will create and deliver effective oral presentations.

Contribution to undergraduate student learning outcomes.

  • Can locate and critically evaluate information

  • Have mastered a body of knowledge and a mode of inquiry

  • Can communicate effectively

  • Apply the role of creativity, innovation, discovery, and expression across disciplines

Exam Format:
No exams, only papers and presentations
Class Format:
Lecture, discussion, working with partners, project work.
Instructor Supplied Information Last Updated:
16 November 2021

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