Environmental Economics

Are you interested in Economics as a possible major or minor?
Click here for information.

Click here for sample exams

General course information and requirements

Semester Fall 2013
Course: Economics 343 (Environmental Economics)
Prerequisite: ECON 103 or ECON 215 or ECON 216, junior status, an overall GPA of at least 2.00 and a C- or better in HMXP 102.
Instructor: Robert J. Stonebraker
Office: 401 Thurmond  
Office Phone: 323-2488
E-mail: stonebrakerr@winthrop.edu
Office Hours: M 3:30 - 5 pm, T 9 - 11 am, W 1 - 2 pm, TR 9:30 - 11 am and 3:30 - 4:30 pm, F 11 am - noon (no appointment needed)
                        Other times are available by appointment.


Discussions of environmental issues and policies are too often framed in superficial rhetoric and clouded by uniformed emotion. Students completing this course should be better able to discuss these issues rationally and coherently. This includes being able to:  
1.     Discuss the concepts of efficient and sustainable resource use and environmental pollution. 
2.     Explain the circumstances in which free markets will and will not generate efficient patterns of use and pollution.
3.     Characterize the types of public policies being used to curb environmental problems, and discuss their relative strengths and weaknesses.
The course links to the following University-Level Competencies:
Winthrop graduates think critically and solve problems: The course will challenge students to think critically about a wide range of current environmental issues.
Winthrop graduates understand the interconnected nature of the world and the time in which they live: The course will examine the interconnectedness of environmental and economic ecosystems and emphasize the value of collaborative efforts between natural scientists and economists.


Environmental Economics and Policy, 6th edition, by Tom Tietenberg and Lynne Lewis. This text is the standard in the field and covers the material thoroughly.  Unfortunately, it often gets bogged down in minutia.  Although we will follow the organization and broad topics presented in the text very closely, we will ignore much of the detail.  Read accordingly. I also have included links below to a few supplemental readings and instructional YouTube videos that you might find useful to help you better understand course topics.


Grades will be determined by the following:
        Paper and presentation:               15%
        Exam with lowest grade:             25%
        Other two exams (30% each):     60%


Exam questions will stress analysis rather than factual information and will be based on the material presented in class. You will be expected to write short essay/explanation answers and to solve graphical and numerical problems. Students caught copying/cheating will be dealt with harshly.  The final exam will be given at 8 a.m. on Monday, December 9 and will include some specified review material. You may use non-programmable calculators during exams, but graphing calculators, cell phone calculators or other programmable calculators are NOT allowed. The approximate grading scale will be
        86 - 100%      A
        72 - 85%        B
        60 - 71%        C
        50 - 59%        D
          0 - 49%        F
Make-up policy:
Make-up exams will be given to students with what I judge to be a valid excuse. Needing more time to study is not a valid excuse. If you cannot make an exam I expect to be notified as quickly as possible, preferably before the exam. Students who do not notify me in a timely manner should not expect a make-up exam.

Paper and presentation:

In addition to exams, there will a paper and an in-class presentation (15% of your grade) on an energy topic. For details, click here.  
Cell phones and related devices:
I expect never to see cell phones in class. That means no texting and no checking messages; even under the desk where you think I will not see them.  Laptop computers and tablets may be used with my permission.  However, they may be used ONLY for taking notes or other approved course purposes.  Students using these for other purposes will lose points from their final average.
Attendance policy:
While I expect you to attend every class on time and will hold you responsible for all class material whether or not you attend, there are no attendance requirements.   Quite honestly, I do not want students in class who do not want to be there.  However, students who do miss frequently should not expect me to go over the missed material with them, nor will they be welcome in any review sessions that I might hold.
Course withdrawal:
Friday, October 18, 2013 is the last day to withdraw from this course.  (Automatic N grade is issued.)  Students may not withdraw from a course after this date without documented extenuating circumstances.
Students with Disabilities:
Winthrop University is dedicated to providing access to education.  If you have a disability and require specific accommodations to complete this course, contact the Office of Disability Services at 323-3290 as soon as possible.  Once you have your Professor Notification Form please tell me so that I am aware of your accommodations well before the first assignment.
As a student you should expect me to take my class responsibilities seriously.  You should expect me to deliver quality instruction in each class, to start and end each class on time, to be responsive to student perspectives and questions, and to treat each of you with respect.  As an instructor, in addition to adherence to Winthropís Code of Student Conduct, I expect similarly responsible behavior from you.

Course Outline

I. Introduction: Issues to Come
chapter 1
II. Environmental Economics: Basic Concepts and Tools
A. Cost-benefit analysis
     1. Static and dynamic efficiency
     2. Measuring costs and benefits 
         chapters 2 and 3
B. Markets and efficiency
     chapter 4 (omit section on imperfect market structures on pp. 78-90)
III. Economics of Natural Resources
A. Human resources and population issues
     chapter 6
Exam #1: Approximately Wednesday, September 25
B. Non-human resources
        1. General concepts: time and sustainability
            chapters 5 and 7
        2. Energy
            chapter  8
        3. Water
           chapter 9
        4. Wood and wildlife
           chapters 12 and 13
Exam #2: Approximately Wednesday, November 6
IV. Economics of Environmental Pollution
A. General issues
     chapter 14
B. Air pollution
     chapters 15, 16 and 17
     Video: Cap and Trade I
     Video: Cap and Trade II
     Video: Cap and Trade III
C. Water pollution
     chapter 18
D. Waste and toxic substances
     chapter 19
V. Quest for Sustainability
Chapters 20 and 21
Final Exam: 8 p.m. on Monday, December 9

I reserve the right to modify this syllabus with cause if unexpected circumstances occur. 

Last modified 08/19/14