Environmental Economics

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General course information and requirements

Semester Fall 2016
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 3:30-4:30 p.m., T 9-11 a.m., W 12:30-1:30 p.m., R 9-11 a.m., F 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. (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 resource 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.


Markets and the Environment, 2nd edition, by Nathaniel Keohane and Sheila Olmstead. This is a relatively inexpensive and concise treatment of environmental economics. Although the text forms the foundation for what we will cover in the course, we will go beyond what the text presents in some areas.  Exam questions will be based on the material discussed in class, however good class notes and conscientious textbook reading reinforce each other.


Grades will be determined by the following:
        Presentation:                                10%
        Journal:                                          8%
        Exam with highest grade:             30%
        Other exams (26% each):            52%


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 11:30 a.m. on Monday, December 12 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

          Click here for a spreadsheet that will calculate your course average.

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.

Other assignments:

In addition to exams, there will be two other graded assignments, each worth 10% of your final grade: an in-class presentation on an energy topic (click here for details) and a journal (click here for details).  
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.  Laptops, tablets or similar electronic devices may be used for note-taking or specified course activities with the instructorís permission. Students using these devices must turn off the wireless function and close all applications/windows other than the allowed document or application. Each time a student is caught violating this policy I will deduct one point from his/her 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 However, based on past experience, there is a high probability that students who miss class frequently will have very low exam scores.
Course withdrawal:
Friday, October 21 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/Need of Accommodations for Access:
Winthrop University is committed to providing access to education.  If you have a condition which may adversely impact your ability to access academics and/or campus life, and you require specific accommodations to complete this course, contact the Office of Accessibility (OA) at 803-323-3290, or, accessibility@winthrop.edu. Please inform me as early as possible, once you have your official notice of accommodations from the Office of Accessibility.
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.   In addition to adherence to Winthropís Code of Student Conduct, I expect similarly responsible behavior from you. However, students that treat this class with a cavalier attitude should expect a similar response from the instructor.


Course Outline

I. Introduction: Issues to Come
chapter 1
II. Environmental Economics: Basic Concepts and Tools
A. Static and dynamic efficiency
     chapter 2 
     Video: Future and Present Value
     Video: Calculating Net Present Value
B. Cost-benefit analysis
     chapter 3

III. Markets and Efficiency
A. Efficiency of markets
     chapter 4 
B. Market failures
     chapter 5
IV. Economics of Natural Resources
A. Efficient intertemporal allocations
     chapter 6
Exam #1: Approximately Monday, October 3
B. Sustainability
     pp. 231-245 in chapter 11
C. Energy
D. Water
      pp. 214-217 in chapter 10     
E. Forests and fisheries
     chapter 7 and  pp. 207-214 in chapter 10 on tradable fishing quotas
Exam #2: Approximately Monday, November 14
V. Economics of Environmental Pollution
A. Market-based controls in theory
     chapters 8 and 9
B. Current control policies
     chapter 10
VI. Final Thoughts
pp. 245-253 in chapter 11, chapter 12
Final Exam: 11:30 a.m. on Monday, December 12
I reserve the right to modify this syllabus with cause if unexpected circumstances occur. 

Last modified 09/21/16