Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:
1. Define environmental sustainability and explain the ecological imperative underlying it.
2. Differentiate between ecological and economic perspectives, and identify ways in which these two perspectives can be combined to address environmental issues.
3. Describe the relationship between economic growth and the environment, explore the question of planetary limits, and posit a formulation for environmentally sustainable economic development.
4. Outline the shortcomings of current national income accounting measures in terms of their ability to serve as indicators of sustainable development; describe adjustments to these measures that would cause them to better reflect environmental and resource factors; and evaluate whether new, "greener" measures of national well-being are needed.
5. Explain how markets work and why they fail, and evaluate the market's ability to look after the environment as well as the case for government intervention.
6. Compare and contrast command-and-control type policies with incentive-based policies and evaluate their effectiveness in reducing environmental impacts.
7. On the basis of current evidence regarding global climate change, discuss the seriousness of the problem, evaluate the role of economics in creating the problem and appraise economic policy alternatives.
8. Evaluate the perspectives of women and those in the non-Western world regarding the interface between economics and the environment.
I. An introduction to economics and the environment
A. Two methods of inquiry
1. The traditional economics approach
2. The ecological economics approach
B. Brief history of environment and economics
C. Science and ethics
D. Sustainability and sustainable development
II. The environment; biophysical constraints
III. Humans in the environment - some history
A History and human numbers
B. Human environmental impact
IV. The economy in the environment - a conceptual framework
A. The big picture: circular flow model with economy-environment interdependence
B. Stocks and flows
C. Natural capital
D. Implications of the laws of thermodynamics
E. Threats to sustainability
V. Macroeconomics and the environment
A. Economic growth and human well-being
B. Economic growth and the environment
1. Kenneth Boulding: "The Spaceship Earth"
2. Donella Meadows: "The Limits to Growth" and "Beyond the Limits"
3. Herman Daly: "Beyond Growth"
4. Tim Jackson: "Prosperity without Growth"
C. Issues of macroeconomic scale
D. National income accounting conventions (such as GDP)
E. National income accounting and the environment
F. Greening the National Income Accounts
1. Index for Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) and Genuine
Progress Indicator (GPI)
2. Other alternative measures of economic progress
3. Environmental asset accounts
VI. Microeconomics and the environment
A How markets work
B. Limits to markets
1. Market failure
b. Public goods
c. Common-property resources
2. Correcting market failure. Markets and sustainability: The case for
VII. Governance and the economics of a sustainable society
A. Determining policy objectives
B. Operationalizing sustainability
1. Weak and strong sustainability
2. Precautionary principle
C. Environmental policy instruments
1. Moral suasion
2. Command and control
3. Creation of property rights [including Coase Theorem, common assets)
4. Taxation (Pigouvian taxes)
5. Quotas, caps and tradable permits
6. Others, may include: least cost theorem, environmental performance bonds, subsidies
D. General policy design principles: An ecological economics approach
1. Sustainable scale
2. Just distribution
3. Efficient allocation
VIII. Applications: pollution (Topics may include some, not all, listed below)
A. Pollution: impacts and policy responses
B Global climate change
C. Industrial ecology
D. Environmental justice considerations
IX. Applications: energy and resources (Topics may include some, not all, listed below)
A. Non-renewable resources
B. Energy: the great transition
C. Renewable resources
D. Ecosystem management/ biodiversity
X. Environment, trade and development
A. World trade and the environment
B. Institutions for sustainable development
1. Muhammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank
2. Vandana Shiva and Navdanya
C. Climate change
D. Biodiversity loss
1. Regular weekly reading assignments from course texts and supplementary materials.
Typical reading assignments are 25 to 50 pages.
2. Ten to twelve take-home assignments and practice quizzes covering assigned readings
and discussion topics. Quizzes may be multiple choice or short answer.
3. One or two midterm examination(s): Students must write in-class essays in response to
questions on material covered in class and in texts and supplemental readings (50%).
Students will answer multiple-choice questions on material covered in class and in
assigned readings (50%).
4. Final Examination: Students must complete an in-class final examination in response to
questions on material covered in class and in texts and supplemental readings. (Essays
and multiple choice questions.)
5. Additional written assignments such as critical analysis and personal response papers
(250-1500 words) regarding topics from assigned readings, an additional book from a
selected bibliography, SRJC Environmental Forum presentations, and relevant news articles.
An Introduction to Ecological Economics, 2nd ed. Costanza, Robert; Cumberland, John;
Daly, Herman; Goodland, Robert and Norgaard, Richard. CRC Press: 2015
Economics and the Environment, 7th ed. Goodstein, Eban. John Wiley and Sons, Inc: 2014
Environmental and Natural Resource Economics a Contemporary Approach, 3rd ed.
Harris, Jonathan M.; Roach, Brian. M.E. Sharpe: 2013
Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, 10th ed. Tietenberg, Tom; Lewis, Lynne
State of the World 2008: Innovations for a Sustainable Econoomy. The Worldwatch Institute.
W. W. Norton and Company: 2008. (classic)
State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible? The Worldwatch Institute.
W.W. Norton and Company: 2013