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Introduction to Environmental Policy

Course Overview



EVR 2861 

Division of Marine Sciences and Ecological Sciences

College of Arts & Sciences

Florida Gulf Coast University

Fort Myers, Florida


212 Academic Building Seven

(239) 405-4164


Plagiarism Warning


Office Hours:

Thursdays 9:00 am - Noon & By Appointment

Course Description:

This course is provides frameworks for environmental policy analysis that can be applied to a variety of environmental case study scenarios to critically evaluate the costs, benefits and implications of implementing particular environmentl policies. The course also serves to introduce students to the basic organization of the U.S. Federal System in and effort to help them understand and interpret how public interests become translated into laws and regulations. It also introduces students to the principles of separation of power and the unique role each branch of government - to include the judiciary - plays in creating, shaping and managing environmental policy. This framework of federal system operation will then be translated into a number of other environmental case studies which require students to effectively "deconstruct" the case study to determine the identity and roles of the political players involved, the unique role each branch of government plays in regard to the issue at hand, how laws are translated into regulation and how regulations are administered and overseen by the courts.


  1. Enable students to apply analytical policy frameworks to current environmental policy issues.
  2. Educate students regarding the basics of the policy process
  3. Familiarize students with the workings of the U.S. Federal System
  4. Assist students in demonstrating a familiarity with the process by which environmental policy is conceived and implemented
  5. Assist students in interpreting the practical implications of policy initiatives.

Required Video:

Students are required to either purchase or preferably rent the video Fracknation. The video can be rented from Amazon, Netflix, Google Play.

Texts & Readings:

Cohen, Steven (2014) Understanding Environmental Policy. New York, NY: Columbia University Press

Students are also required to read the following readings.

Adler, Jonothan H. (2005) "What Happens When Environmental Law Meets the Constitution?" Annual American Bar Association Meeting on Environment, Energy and Resources, (September 21-25), Nashville, TN.

Arnold, Paul A. (2008) About America: How the United States is Governed. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of International Information Programs.

Canada's Sytem of Government (2015) Illustration. The Parliment of Canada, Ottawa, CA.

Casey, Timothy T. (2011) "A Model Environmental Nation? Canada as a Case Study for Informing U.S. Environmental Policy," American Review of Canadian Studies. Vol. 41, No. 4, p. 345-357.

Cohen, Steven (2014) Understanding Environmental Policy. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. (A required purchase for this course!)

Government of Canada (2015) The Canadian Constitution. The Canadian Department of Justice, Retrieved from the Worldwide Web October 12, 2015 at http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/just/05.html

Makrenot, Jay (2007) "The Canadian Constitution: Introduction to Canada's Constitutional Framework," (August 1), Mapleleafweb. Retrieved from the Worldwide Web October 12, 2015 at http://mapleleafweb.com/features/canadian-constitution-introduction-canada-s-constitutional-framework#what

Morestein, Florience (2012) A Framework for Analyzing Public Policies: Practical Guide. Quebec, CA: National Collaborating Center for Public Policy.

Novotony, Thomas E; Lum, Kristen; Smith, Elizabeth; Wang, Vivian and Barnes, Richard (2009) "Cigarette Butts and the Case for An Environmental Policy on Hazard Cigarette Waste," International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Vol. 6, p. 1691-1705.

Ostrom, Elinor (2010) "Institutional Analysis and Development: Elements of the Framework in Historical Perspective," In Charles Crother's (Ed.) Historical Developments and Theoretical Approaches in Sociology. (Volume III), New York, NY: United Nations Educationa, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Polten, Eric P. and Glezl, Peter (2014) Federalism in Canada and Germany: Overview and Comparison. Toronto, CA: Polten & Associates.

Powell, Brenda Heelan (2014) Environmental Assessment and The Canadian Constitution. Ecmonton, CA: Environmental Law Centre

Sabatier, Paul A. (2007) Theories of the Policy Process. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press.

Walker, Genevieve (2014) United States Department of State Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Project. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State.

Wirth, David A. (1996) "Public Participation and International Process: Environmental Case Studies at the National and International Levels," Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy. Vol. 7, p. 6f.

Yell, Mitchell L. and Conroy, Terrye (2015) "Introduction to the American Legal System," In Yell and Conroy's (Eds.) The Law And Special Education. New York, NY: Pearson Education.

Basic Course Requirements:

  1. Attend and participate in class on a regular basis through weekly posting of homework on Canvas email.  Class participation centers around participation in completing and posting homework via Canvas email. Homework completion counts as 50% of the course grade and also reflects upon the class participation grade. Students must receive permission from the instructor to miss a class. Missing (i.e. nonparticipation or inadequate participation in class activities on Canvas via email) for 3 classes or more without instructor permission will result in students being withdrawn from the class. Homework turned in late will not be graded. Homework written into the email memo field rather than attached as Word or rich-text format documents, will not be graded. Homework turned in without the student's name, date and a description of which homework assignment the work is responding to will not be graded. All work is submitted through Canvas email.

  1. Successfully complete a comprehensive examination.  The comprehensive exam will be administered at session 14 and will cover the material covered over weeks 1-14. The exam will be administered via Canvas.  Exams returned later than the specified deadline will not be graded and the student will receive a grade of 0% for such exams.  All work is submitted through Canvas email.

  1. Complete all homework in a timely and thorough fashion and weekly post study question / homework answers to Canvas email.  What the course considers to be "homework" are the discussion questions that occur between sessions 1-10. All homework must be completed weekly and must include APA source documentation (in text citations and references at the end). Additionally, each week's homework must be numbered and include the enumerated homework question followed immediately with the student's response and all papers must include the students name, the course name, the assignment number and the date. Work failing to fully meet these criteria will receive no credit. Likewise work turned in late will receive no credit. Homework submitted later than 5:00 p.m. on the final date of the class session or submitted via anything other than Canvas email will will be considered late homework and will not be credited toward class attendance and participation. The dates for each class session can be found in the course schedule located on the course home page. Distance learning course are considered to operate over a seven day week period. All work is submitted through Canvas email.

    4. Complete a Pretest and Posttest for the course that will be mailed to you by Canvas email. Failure to complet either test will cost you 5% of the total grade. No credit however will be awarded for taking the test - only credit deducted for failing to take the exam. Failure to take either one of these two tests will result in an automatic reduction of your final grade by 5%.


Comprehensive Exam: Sessions 1-14 50%
Attendance & Participation (a.k.a. homework):Determined by weekly homework assignment performance. (Logging in on a weekly basis and answering assigned questions and doing so thoroughly and in accordance with question completion guidelines and expectations).   50%

 Total Percentage



Grading Scale

























59% and Below


Homework submitted later than 5:00 p.m. on the final date of each weekly class session will will be considered late homework and will not be credited toward class attendance and participation. Distance learning courses are considered to operate over a seven day week period.


NOTE: Course assignments and schedule, course objectives, and grading criteria, distributions and weights may change as circumstances dictate and at the discretion of the instructor.


APA Citation & Reference Style

I strongly encourage every student to take the time to complete the following online APA Citation and Reference Tutorial. One of the objectives of this class is that you learn how to use the APA documentation style. You can learn everything you need to know about how to use this method by studying the fmaterial at the following sites. Please understand that any of your discussion questions or your student presentation papers that are lacking in complete APA styled documentation will be returned to you and will not be graded until they are in order.