Environmental Economics (EC 434:534)
WINTER 2021 SYLLABUS
Department of Economics, University of Oregon
环境经济学代上网课 How much is a polar bear worth? Is it good to buy local? If reducing pollution is expensive, is it possible to have too little pollution?
When: Tue & Thu, 12:15–13:45
Where: Remote! A Zoom classroom link is available on Canvas.
Who: Grant McDermott (instructor) Kyle Raze (GE)
Assistant Professor of Economics Doctoral student in economics
Mon 09:00–10:30 Wed 15:00–16:00
Course description 环境经济学代上网课
How much is a polar bear worth? Is it good to buy local? If reducing pollution is expensive, is it possible to have too little pollution? What is the best way to stop climate change? …
If these kinds of questions interest you, then you’ve signed up for the right course. Our goal is to ex- plore the relationship between the economy and the environment. Despite what you may have heard, these two concepts are not in conflict. Economics illuminates the importance of aligning individ- ual incentives with societal outcomes. It therefore provides a powerful framework for understanding and correcting environmental problems, as well as for measuring environmental benefits. The envi- ronment, in turn, serves as a fundamental input or outlet for nearly all forms of economic activity.
However, environmental goods and amenities aren’t priced or traded like most market goods and amenities. Environmental economics thus brings us into direct contact with some of the most inter- esting cases of market failure and deviations from the perfect world of “economics 101”. In this course, we’ll explore the ways in which unregulated markets can fail in the environmental realm, as well as the various policy tools that economists have developed to correct these problems. We’ll also look at the techniques that economists use to measure environmental costs and benefits, and how this can help society best allocate its scarce resources. By the end of the course, students should have developed a solid understanding of environmental economics theory and how this theory continues to shape effective environmental policies in the real world.
Intermediate Microeconomics (EC 311), and one of Introductory Econometrics (EC 320) or Natural Re- source Economics (EC 423). My working assumption is that you have a good understanding of basic calculus and econometrics.
Successful completion of the course will entail:
- Class participation and semi-weekly homework quizzes onCanvas.
- A midterm around week five.
- A research paper (EC 534only).
- A final exam.
Grade determination and protocol 环境经济学代上网课
Grades will be determined as follows:
Note: A class participation bonus worth an additional 2.5% will be awarded at my discretion.
Please note that you are going to be graded on a curve. This means that the absolute scores or percentages from your midterm and final are largely irrelevant. What matters most is where you are in the distribution of scores among your peers. Your letter grades that I post at the end of the quarter will reflect this curve. Usually (but not always) the threshold for an “A” grade is around 80%.Usually (but not always) the threshold for a “B” grade is around 70%. There is only one absolute standard: To pass this course, you need to get at least 50% in aggregate. This pass/fail threshold could be higher depending on how the class performs as a whole, but it will not be lower.
Homework quizzes (and class participation bonus)
Homework will be assigned semi-weekly and will generally take the form of multiple choice quizzes on Canvas. The goal is to reinforce concepts from the lectures; particularly the sections and examples that we work through together during class. (If you’re wondering about the costs of missing class, this is one of them.) I will also award a class participation “bonus” — equivalent to one of the homework assignments — at my discretion. I’ll explain this in more detail during our first lecture, but basically it will entail answering iClicker questions in class, and providing real-world examples of environmental news and topics related to the concepts that we cover during the course.
The midterm will take place around week five. Please note that no make-up midterm will be given. If you know that you cannot take the midterm for valid, non-medical reasons (e.g. sports/athletic events), talk to me immediately. Failure to do so will result in a zero grade. If you miss the midterm due to medical reasons or last-minute emergencies, you will be required to provide proper documentation. If the documentation is acceptable, then the weighting for this section of the course will be placed on the final exam.
Final exam 环境经济学代上网课
The final is scheduled for Thursday, March 18 at 08:00. (Note the unusual time.) It will be a cumulative exam, i.e. covering the entire syllabus. Make-up final exams will be allowed in the case of documented emergency and advanced notice. Missing the final exam without a documented emergency and ad- vanced notice will result in a zero grade. If you know now that you cannot make this exam, do not register for the class.
Both the midterms and final exam will be closed notes, closed book. Acceptable items are limited to: pens/pencils and a straight-edge for the final exam, and non-programmable, non-cell phone based hand-held calculators.
Lecture notes, textbook(s) and other readings
Teaching an environmental economics course for upper undergraduates is complicated by the fact that there is no ideal textbook aimed at this level. Lecture slides will thus be “self-contained”, in the sense that you won’t require additional textbook material to pass the course. I will make these slides available on Canvas ahead of class. However, please note that the slides will n ot be entirely complete: I’ll save some of the most important material for the actual lecture, where we’ll work through these missing sections together in real time. You will need to take your own notes here and will only be able to do so if you actually attend the lecture.
While I won’t be prescribing any textbook, there are several options out there for motivated students who want to deepen their understanding of environmental economics. Here are two that you might consider. Both should be available at the Duck Store, or can be loaned from the Knight Library. 环境经济学代上网课
- “Markets and the Environment” (2nd edition) by Keohane and Olmstead (K&O). I’m a big fan of this book. It does an excellent job of conveying the intuition of environmental economics and discusses a bunch of interesting case studies. It’s also pretty cheap and has proven popular with students in the past.
- “Environmental and Natural Resource Economics” (10th edition) by Tietenberg and Lewis (T&L). Anotherwell-regarded textbook that provides a solid, if superficial, introduction to the field.
Honesty and academic integrity 环境经济学代上网课
Students caught cheating or plagiarizing will automatically be assigned a zero grade. Please acquaint yourself with the Student Conduct Code at http://studentlife.uoregon.edu.
If you have a documented disability and anticipate needing accommodations in this course, please make arrangements with me during the first week of the term. Please request that the Accessible Education Center send me a letter verifying your disability.
Please turn off all cell phones when entering my class. You know the drill. In addition, a growing body
of evidence points to the fact that in-class laptops lower student understanding and recollection. (See
here or here.) As a result, I strongly discourage you from using laptops during class. Of course, I’m
happy to make exceptions for relevant cases, so please speak to me or send an email if you fall into
this category. Update: Okay, so this applies less with the remote version of the class. But I still want you to keep your phones off and your cameras on. 环境经济学代上网课
More generally, I’m hoping to encourage an interactive and vibrant classroom atmosphere. In-class participation will be rewarded and you should expect me to call on you to answer questions and dis- cuss ideas during lectures. I will treat you as adults and anticipate that you can engage with challeng-
ing or uncomfortable ideas accordingly. At the same time, discriminatory or egregiously inflammatory language will not be tolerated. Similarly, the university takes an appropriately hard-line policy on sex- ual discrimination and violence that you should acquaint yourself with. President Schill’s NYT op-ed on free speech on campus is another useful reference.
Tentative course outline 环境经济学代上网课
|Jan 5||Review: Basic calculus and welfare analysis|
|Jan 7||Economic efficiency and property rights||K&O (1, 4); T&L (1, 2)|
|Jan 12||Externalities and market failure||K&O (5); T&L (2)|
|Jan 14||Evaluating trade-offs: Cost-Benefit Analysis & co.||K&O (3); T&L (3)|
|Jan 19||Non-market valuation: 1) Stated preference methods||K&O (3); T&L (4)|
|Jan 21||Non-market valuation: 2) Revealed preference methods||K&O (3); T&L (4)|
|Jan 26||Pollution control: 1) Pigouvian policy||K&O (8, 9); T&L (14)|
|Research paper topic (EC 534 only)|
|Jan 28||Practice problems|
|Feb 2||MIDTERM 环境经济学代上网课|
|Feb 4||Pollution control: 2) Tradeable permits||T&L (14); K&O (8, 9)|
|Feb 9||Stationary-source air pollution||T&L (15); K&O (10)|
|Feb 11||Mobile-source air pollution||T&L (17)|
|Feb 16||Climate change: 1) Discounting||K&O (10); T&L (16)|
|Feb 18||Climate change: 2) Damages||T&L (16)|
|Feb 23||Trade and the environment||K&O (11); T&L (20)|
|Feb 25||Water pollution||K&O (9, 10); T&L (18)|
|Mar 2||Placeholder day (topic TBD)|
|Mar 4||Frontiers of environmental economics|
|Research paper deadline (EC 534 only)|
|Mar 9||Overview and exam prep|
|Mar 18||FINAL EXAM|
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