Fall 2022  |  PA 5724 Section 001: Climate Change Policy (23832)

Class Component:
3 Credits
Grading Basis:
Student Option
Instructor Consent:
No Special Consent Required
Instruction Mode:
In Person
Enrollment Requirements:
Graduate Student
Times and Locations:
Regular Academic Session
09/06/2022 - 12/14/2022
Tue, Thu 09:45AM - 11:00AM
UMTC, West Bank
Blegen Hall 120
Enrollment Status:
Open (33 of 40 seats filled)
Also Offered:
Course Catalog Description:
Existing and proposed approaches to mitigate and adapt to climate change through policies that cross scales of governance (from local to global) and impact a wide range of sectors. Exploration of climate change policy from a variety of disciplinary approaches and perspectives, emphasizing economic logic, ethical principles, and institutional feasibility. How policy can be shaped in the face of a variety of competing interests to achieve commonly desired outcomes. Students develop a deep knowledge of climate change in particular countries through a team final project. prereq: Intro microecon (such as Econ 1101 or equiv)
Class Notes:
Class Description:

Global climate change poses perhaps the most significant environmental challenge of this generation with responses and impacts falling unevenly across the globe now and well into the future. 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.

Who Should Take This Class?:
Graduate students from across the university with interests in climate policy, including students in policy degrees, science and engineering degrees, and in the humanities. Exceptional undergraduates may seek permission to enroll from the instructor.
Learning Objectives:
By the end of the course, my hope is that you will achieve the following learning goals:
• Gain a substantive understanding of the climate change problem, including trends and drivers of greenhouse gas emissions, the effectiveness of existing and proposed policies, and the range and likelihood of impacts;
• Gain a holistic understanding of climate change policies and how they fit together so that new developments in climate policy at the local, national, and international stages can be situated in the context of decades of climate policy development;
• Develop a familiarity with major environmental policy theories and frameworks and how they apply to climate change policy accounting for the differing positions of a wide array of public and private actor groups;
• Build an expanded capability to apply multiple lenses to understand and evaluate climate policies, bridging economic, ethical, institutional, and environmental dimensions;
• Practice writing memos and briefs that support the policy-making process;
• Gain experience working through complex policy arenas in teams while developing a greater openness to receiving constructive feedback from your peers and improved skills in providing feedback yourself;
• Develop a deepened curiosity in climate change policy that inspires future coursework, research, professional development, and learning.
Grading for this course will have four major components. First is participation, which will be evaluated based on your participation in classroom activities and evidence that you have completed the readings. Second is a policy memo on climate stabilization. Third is a climate campaign platform. Finally, you will complete a group project where you will be challenged to develop and defend a national climate strategy. Evaluation of the final project will be based on a written paper, oral presentation to the class, and your engagement with other project teams.
Exam Format:
No Exams
Readings will be assigned for every class. You should expect around 50-70 pages of reading (or equivalent) per week drawn from books, scholarly publications, popular articles, and other forms of media (e.g. videos). Each week, students will be given a list of required and optional readings.
Students are expected to come to class having completed readings and prepared to engage in discussion.

Brief descriptions of the assignments are detailed below. More specific guidelines will be distributed in class well before the deadlines. Assignments are subject to change but will be finalized by the first class.

Stabilization wedges memo: In this memo you will use design a comprehensive technical solution to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions based on the stabilization wedge logic of Pacala and Socolow. After presenting the technical components of your climate stabilization strategy, pick the three wedges you believe will pose the greatest policy challenges and explain the nature of these challenges. How can policies be designed to overcome these challenges. Your audience is a general group of international stakeholders concerned with overall global strategic directions.

Campaign platform: Choose a real or imaginary candidate running for a political office and draft a campaign platform on climate change. What kind of authority does your chosen candidate seek and what kind of tangible impact on climate change mitigation and adaptation would this candidate be able to have? Consider that the audience for the campaign platform consists of likely voters, so take care to describe your candidate's position in a politically favorable way.

Final project: Working in groups of 3-4 students, you will develop a comprehensive national climate strategy for an assigned country. Identify the key government agencies in your country with authority on climate-related issues. Summarize the key interests of domestic groups with a stake in climate policy, and then identify the key areas for policy reform. Grounded in your analysis of domestic conditions, develop an international negotiating position for your country to take into multilateral negotiations. How is your outward facing position informed by internationally agreed upon norms and what are negotiating strategies and coalitions that are likely to yield favorable outcomes for your country? You will prepare a written report of your analysis and present the key findings of your research in class. Following presentations of all groups, we will have an in-class simulation-style debate where you will take on your country's negotiating position and hash out a path forward for multilateral action with other project teams.

Instructor Supplied Information Last Updated:
7 May 2020

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